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Northern Michigan is my home and my delight...retirement gives me all the time in the world to find my subjects.
I decided to do some video stuff with my writings awhile ago...this is one I happened to record..I've already posted it in here..but I do have some ad-lib....(Sportsmen (and women) like rodeos and bull-riding too..ya know.
How can I tell you my story without letting you know the main character? Would that be the sheriff, the little girl, or my grandson?
When he was seventeen, our grandson entertained an interest in bull riding.
Yes, I said bull riding. We had taken him with us to several rodeos when he was very young.
It soon became apparent that his main interest was the activity in the bull pens. There was always a place to stand behind the spot where the contestants began their ride.
Always visible to us from our place in the grandstands, there was no need to wonder if he was okay. Closely watching the riders, his attention was riveted on their every move.
We shouldn’t have been surprised at this fairly unusual pursuit of the sport of bull-riding. Beginning in junior high school, his interest was maintained in many sports including wrestling, weight lifting and football, well known teen sports throughout high-school years.
Nothing could keep him from attempting to become successful at the projects he decided to pursue. With personal determination and a plan for accomplishing the goals he set for himself, dedication brought results.
Although we planned to be at every bull riding event in which he participated, there was one in the northern part of our state we were unable to attend.
A surprise communication arrived...
Sometime after the event, a letter arrived for him from the sheriff in a northern Michigan community. The sheriff was asking our grandson to consider sending him an autographed picture.
In explanation, he wrote that he was working with an eleven year old girl who was having difficulty, as he explained it, in finding a good path to follow in her life.
The sheriff went on to write that during his counseling he had asked the girl if she had any heroes. She said yes, and then indicated our grandson who she had seen riding in the rodeo in the northern part of our state,
was her hero.
Think about it. She must have indicated our grandson by name or there would have been no way for the sheriff to make this personal contact.
Bull riding events are well attended and the grandstands are usually filled to capacity. There was no personal contact between the girl
and our grandson.
This scenario amazed me.
Being the grandmother I am, I didn’t miss an opportunity to offer a lecture on good behavior. “What do you suppose you were doing when she saw you?”, I asked. “You had no idea you were being watched other than when you were actually riding. Were you chatting with other riders, were you watching the activities?"
At bull riding events, the young riders I've noticed, are neatly dressed. Our grandson always pressed his shirts with a crease in the sleeves.
(Only a Grandmother notices things like that, or so I thought.)
He didn’t smoke, or drink or chew. Any of those things could have been noticed by someone observing him at an event.
This time, a confused young girl was watching our grandson and later counting him as her hero.
He found a photo of himself, as the sheriff had asked, and penned a message on the back. In the message indicating that he hoped she would find good paths for her life in the future.
Since this incident happened, and it was a long time ago, I’ve had many opportunities to think about people who may be watching you and me right now.
What are they seeing? What are they hearing?
It would be unusual to be aware that someone is observing our actions.
We may never know when it’s happening. Are they noticing the way we're dressed? Can they hear what we are saying? Have we influenced someone’s life? Did we make them wish they could be like us? Or, did they wish they would never be like us? Were we an influence for good? Do we present a pleasant space around ourselves?
Perhaps, in an off moment, we may convince someone never to act as we do. It's quite possible something we’ve done, or said, or the way we have planned our lives, has influenced someone to change direction, or maybe to continue in a direction they’ve already chosen.
Someone is watching and listening to you and me right now. We will never know who it is or how our lives may have influenced them
to direct their own life.
I’ve shared this story with many people over the past years. The incident has made a difference in how I see myself, Sometimes I hope no one is looking or hearing; other times I hope I made a good impression.
Who’s watching now?
Good luck, son..
Photos By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck
Not sure how much more of this I can take. But I think I’m about to find out.
Ok, admittedly it was a different time when I was growing up. In the forties and fifties we didn’t have much first-hand information about disrespect, but we knew a lot about “respect”.
I’ll start with the flag, you know the one, stars and stripes, red white and blue. Remember when we stood up when the Star Spangled Banner was played at the games? No one told us, we just did it. (Hand over heart and facing the flag..) Now, the young folks are tired of it. Let’s toss it out they say..and get something groovy....good grief!
Remember when “taking a knee”, (a phrase we’d never heard), may have accompanied a prayer? How about, “stand on your own two feet” and “make a difference” for something worthwhile.
Remember when you were told to address the friends of your parents by Mr. and Mrs.? In my home, my Dad said “We don’t call the doctor “Doc”. He has trained to be a doctor and we will show him respect by calling him “Dr. Jones”.” Our teachers were also spoken of as Mr. and Mrs..maybe Miss..and never “old man or old lady..so and so”....at least that’s the way it was in our house. Teachers were to be an example to the children they were in charge of for several hours each day, nine months of the year. No wearing sloppy clothes, sitting on the desk to teach and preaching who knows what..
I recall visiting the local high school one day during “change of classes” time. The young folks were going this way and that, running into each other and cramming the hallway. Remember when we were instructed to always walk on the “right side” of the hallway? (No traffic jams there.) It was a simple yet effective way of managing the change of classes. Kind of like driving down the highway...keep to the right. It’s safer that way. (Hmm..never thought of that.)
Remember the words “table manners”? Don’t wear a hat to the table. Pass the food to the older person at the table first, or to a guest. If you don’t care for the dish that’s passed to you, the response is “no, thank you”...not...”I don’t like that”. When you were ready to leave the table you asked to be excused. .. Like this...”May I be excused?”..Of course, that was when families actually sat down to the evening meal together.
I admit, times have changed. Boy, have they changed.
Laws are meant to be obeyed. If you don’t like them, work toward having them changed. Everyone doesn’t think or believe the way you do. There’s room at the table, so to speak.
I was watching a commercial yesterday as a young girl is saying to her Mother, “I’m not going to eat that.”...Poor Mother, she must find something the dear child likes, so she buys macaroni and cheese in a package and the kid gobbles it up. When I was a child, (remember it was the forties and fifties), I was told, “If you don’t want to eat what’s on the table, you may be excused. Maybe you’ll be hungry again at the next meal.” No snacks in between, no dessert unless you eat what’s put before you first.
Oh my, it was certainly a time of cruelty.
And, what’s with this “protest” stuff? I’m mad because our town, our state, our country has done something I don’t like. I protest! Tear it down! Set it on fire! Throw paint on it! Start your own town! Throw stones at the police! Get rid of the police! Destroy businesses! Break their glass windows! Set police cars on fire! Scream the “f” word in everyone’s face.
There! That’ll fix ‘em.
If you aren’t old enough to vote, you may have to wait until your voice can be heard at the ballot box. That is, if “the box” is still used. There seems to be a difference of opinion at some state levels about circulating ballots through the mail. Oh yes! That’s a good one.
In case you haven’t noticed, much of what we need to learn begins at home. No, the kids don’t get to do everything they want. When we find ourselves saying, “My parents would never have put up with that.” Well...guess who the parents are now? That’s us. That’s you Mom and you Dad. Manners don’t drop out of the sky. Rules don’t come with your birth certificate. Choices are made by one person, you. Teach your kids that!
The cell phones don’t own us. At least, they aren’t supposed to own us. I sat in a restaurant one day, and watched two young folks highly engrossed in their phones, sitting across the table from one another but not acknowledging the presence of each other. Is that what you call going out for coffee, or a coke, or what?
When I was a kid, my favorite movies had actors like Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry...If there was violence, I never saw it. It’s a challenge today to find something on television that doesn’t contain violence or sex. The kids are watching it too, folks. Maybe we should pay more attention to what they’re doing with their time. How long has it been since your kids have heard, “go outside and play”....even the very little kids, as soon as they can sit up without help, are watching the television. I don’t know what Mom and Dad are doing, but they aren’t watching the kids.
Does anyone read to their young children anymore? You don’t have time, you say? Well find the time!
There............I think I feel better now. At least for the moment, I do.
But, I’ll be back..count on it.
Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck