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2002-09-06 - 6:02 p.m.

I've been reading Maile's entries about her grandpa and thinking about an elderly man in my family. He married my grandmother several years ago and, in my heart, I always kind of resented him. My grandparents were married for 64 years and I never imagined her partnered with anyone else. He's very nice, but he and I have nothing in common - he's a Church of Christ minister, conservative, a golfer!, no use for the arts, etc. However, I started to feel a lot of sympathy for him because his two daughters never call or visit - my parents remember him on holidays, invite him places, etc. more than they do. And he is good companionship for my grandmother. Anyway, he has always made a big deal of saying, "When the Lord calls me, I'm ready to go. I'm not afraid. I'm ready." Now, however, he seems to be getting closer to that day. He's in his late 90s, in poor health, gets lost and confused easily, etc. And he is terrified, though he refuses to talk about it. Verona said, "Well, he can't admit he's scared. He's a minister. He's supposed to look forward to death as a Christian." I said, "But he is sacred and that's a normal human reaction. It just makes him feel worse to cover it up and not talk about it honestly." And it makes it worse for my grandmother because she's the one who has to notify EMS when he has panic attacks or gets lost and freaks out. She's about the same age and she doesn't need that stress.

I don't know. I feel sorry for him, but what can you do? He refuses to talk about his fears - or even admit to them.

In other news, I had a heart to heart with a kid after school today. She's a real "behavior problem" and had been sent to me so I could "punish" her. Well, we talked. She apparently lives in a house where there is a constant influx and outflux of gang members, all friends of her brother, hanging out, sleeping, eating, partying, etc. She is such an angry girl, and I can't blame her. She's very intelligent, too - intelligent enough to hold it together with her grades and test scores despite enormous anger, a terrible home environment and who knows what else. I honestly think that she doesn't hear about how smart she is very often. She told me, "Miss, I'm a bad kid." I said, "Marinel, you're a smart kid who gets into trouble sometimes. Not a bad kid." Can it be possible that she's never heard that before? And she holds onto grudges in a way that makes me think that at home, if she does something wrong, she never hears the end of it. I told her, "You gotta let go of the old stuff, learn from mistakes but don't beat yourself up about them, and move on."

If I could only follow all the good advice I dispense at school!



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