“There is always a tomorrow. To me, it’s not worth stressing too much.”
Every year an American tradition has happened since the dawn of modern education: The High School Prom.
A night where young men rehearse gentlemanly conduct (they better) as they escort young ladies to fairytale evenings (we pray) as each practice social graces. And behind every elegantly dressed teen is a mother, a father, or other mixtures of family dynamics.
Tonight is that very night, and I find myself dead center in activity as I gather with such a group of parents and guardians. All of whom have decided to give their kids a heartfelt wave as they prepare to make prom memories.
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. And in telling this story, I need to tell you a little about Tom. For his persona does lead to the meeting of today’s stranger turned friend.
Tom is a spiritual man. A great example of living a life committed to family values. And in introducing him, I have to state that he is a person centered on love for community. Please know. I use the word love intentionally, and in choosing it, I assure you that I understand the depth of its meaning. If ever I have met a man who exemplifies the purest of benevolence towards his fellow human, it’s Tom. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he is also a constant fan of 365. Not that he has the time to read every story. His support is more than solely reading our narrative. He believes in the project and puts his faith in others at front in all he does. So to receive an introduction from him is a call to listen.
“Do you know Marilene? If not, you have to meet her. She is an amazing woman,” Tom proposes.
The bus pulls away, and as parents depart, I introduce myself to Marilene. She is all in.
“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.”
Tom calls Marilene amazing, and as she shares her wisdom, a statement that describes her pops into my mind. For Marilene is “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’m guessing many of us can relate to, and if so, probably has you looking at the hidden gems you are carrying from your youth. Those dark and bright moments that have contributed to the evolution of who you now are.
Yet, Marilene does not cite any blame or contempt. To quote, “I have hope for everything.” A hope that healed her from the unexpected loss of her husband when he passed away.
How many kids do you have? I ask.
“Four… and they are great!” Marilene reacts.
“We have a lot of love in our house, and they help me stay young.”
I have met many single parents. All of whom are doing their best to raise balanced children. And to be more personal, I cannot even fathom single-handedly raising my one child. So, hearing Marilene is caring for four teens by herself. Well, that’s an undertaking that gets my complete 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 a most peaceful and infectious countenance, 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 they do listen, and they do understand. Even when you think they are not.”
We shift gears toward to future, and in her signature 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.”
Dear Marilene, we’ll take heed to your council. Thanks for inspiring us!