Thursday, January 19, 2012

Loretta (Don't Give Up Learning)

An awe-inspiring word of encouragement from Loretta, for anyone who’s ever had a speech problem or has struggled in any way:

Loretta Gaither
Don’t Give Up Learning

I would like to talk to other people about their lives and tell them they can make it, even with stuttering. They can learn and go to school. When I was 5 years old, I stuttered continuously; I am 69 now, and I am going back to school to get my GED.

I started going to a special school when I was 6 years old, where the teachers said I could learn. My mother said I couldn’t learn, but my teacher said I could. Her name was Mrs. Clark.

She sat with me during class and showed me how to break up works into syllables so I could say them slowly. The stuttering got better and better every year. But now sometimes it still comes back when I get upset. And people think I don’t know what I am doing or saying. But I am actually thinking clearly and just having trouble with my speech. They think I am senile, because I don’t sound clear. But I do know what I am saying in my mind.

I come to this class to express myself through written words. This class makes me stronger and want to always learn more. That’s why I am going to keep learning and get my GED. And that’s why I write this essay, to tell other people who stutter (and people who don’t stutter) that they can learn too. Don’t quit. God bless everyone who reads this essay.

When Loretta picked the title, “Don’t Give Up Learning”, she asked me if I remembered the young woman in the audience at our 2010 public event, Seniors’ Storytelling Day, who raised her hand to ask our seniors how she could better express herself.  I did. Very much so. You can click Here for the blog post I wrote about Loretta and the young woman a little more than a year ago, and Loretta’s reflection of their connection. I remember the story but I forgot its title until I reread the blog post. I got chills when I saw the title: "I Don't Give Up." I got chills again just typing that. It's like, back then, for her to say that about herself, was already the strongest I had seen her. And now, she is here to tell the whole world, Hey, don't YOU give up either! Loretta is a true leader now. I am in awe.