Every year there is an American tradition that has happened since the dawn of modern education… That tradition: The High School Prom.
A night where young men rehearse they’re gentlemanly conduct (they better) as young ladies are escorted to a fairy tail evening (we pray) in their practice of social graces.
And behind every elegantly dressed teen, there is a mother, or a father, or other mixtures of family dynamics.
Tonight is that very night, and I find myself smack dab in the center of activity in gathering with a special group of families; whom as a group have decided to give their kids a grand start to their prom memory.
Around me are twenty-two of the most beautifully and handsomely dressed kids, all coming together at the home of one of my most respected and long time friend, Tom (not pictured), the coordinator of tonight’s bus limousine prom start.
I’ve got to tell you a little about Tom, it’s relevant, for his persona does lead to the meeting of today’s stranger turned friend, whom I’ll tell you about in the next minutes.
Tom is a spiritual man. A great example of living a life committed to family values, and a life that is passionately centered in a real love for community. I use the word love intentionally, and in choosing it, I assure you that I understand the depths of its meaning. If ever I have met a man who exemplifies the purest of benevolence towards his fellow human… it is Tom.
Tom is one of 365’s constant fans. Not that he has the time to read every entry to it’s fullest, but his patronage is greater than that of solely reading it’s narrative. He believes in the project. So to receive an introduction from him is a charge to listen.
“Do you know Marilene?” he inquires as we chaperone tonight’s gathering moment in photographing and bidding our have fun’s to our troupe of glowing young couples.
“If not… you have to meet her… she is an amazing woman.” Tom directs.
So as the bus pulls away and the majority of parents have departed, I take time to introduce myself, and 365, to Marilene.
Tom calls Marilene amazing; I title her “A guide to all that is good.”
“There is always a tomorrow. To me it’s not worth stressing too much,” Marilene shares in her native French accent.
“I have learned that from experience. I’m a worrier at heart. Something that was part of my life from the start, growing up with a dad who was very negative and worried about everything.
But after time… I realized that is not a healthy way to live.”
Advice that I am sure many of us have similar experiences to reference. We all have our own set of histories from youth. Some dark… some bright, but all part of the evolution of who we are today.
Yet, Marilene does not cite any blame or contempt in her outlook. To quote, “I have hope for everything.”
And it is this hope that has healed her from the unexpected loss of her husband when he passed away only a short ten years ago.
“How many kids do you have?” I ask.
“Four… and they are great!” Marilene joyfully reacts.
“We have a lot of love in our house and they help me stay young.”
In my travels I have met many single parents, both men and women, all of whom are doing their best to raise balanced children.
I cannot even fathom single-handedly raising my one child, and hearing that Marilene is caring for four teens by herself is a feat the gets the fullest of my respect and admiration.
There is a question that is becoming a regular inquiry. A question that not one of my single parenting friends has avoided, “What advice do you have for other single parents?”
Without hesitation, and bearing the most positively infectious countenance of peace and strength, Marilene responds, “Be close to your kids… Talk to them… And never forget that you are a team!
Even when they are teens, I promise that they do listen… and they do understand. Even when you think they are not.”
We shift gears toward to future, and in expected positive form Marilene formats her views using a blend of poignant reality and ingratiating optimism, “The idea of a global world is something that I see coming.
We have to help countries that are having troubles, but what’s hard about it is that we can’t change people.
Maybe in a hundred years, people will look at each other differently. It’s going to be a slow change… but one that will happen.”
Marilene, we take heed to you council, thanks for chatting with us this evening.