Monday, January 20, 2014

Brenda S (A Salute to My Mentor)

The Best Day of My Life (So Far) has 3 anniversaries that mean a lot to me every year:

1. June 26, 2006 when I called my grandma for the first time in my life, just to talk. Read more Here.

2. The first session of our founding group, deep in the basement of Philadelphia Senior Center, on September 24, 2009.

3. The session following Martin Luther King Day in 2011. That session was on January 20, 2011… which happens to be MLK Day this year, today!

The first two may be self-explanatory… "But why the third?" you may ask.

Because that one session, 4 different seniors spontaneously, unpromptedly, felt inspired to write about their reflections of him, including childhood memories of hearing him speak - in person! Afterwards, I wrote here on the blog, "Huddled around the same table with my senior buddies, I was just one degree away from Dr. Martin Luther King himself. How surreal is that? Who needs time travel? Past and present – I realized there is no real line between the two." You can reread the blog post Here.

That day forever changed my perception of "the past". I began to see history in present-tense. From the larger-than-life Martin Luther King to personal mentors who left a mark more softly in our lives, through our seniors' stories, their spirits live on.

Brenda Scantlebury
A Salute to My Mentor

Today my thoughts are on mentors.  This past Friday, January 25, 2013, I went to New York.  The occasion for my journey was to celebrate the eightieth birthday of one of my mentors.  The name of the celebrant is Mr. Eugene M. Brown. 

When I was in high school, I loved to swim.  The recreation center I belonged to was run by the Children’s Aid Society.  Every day after school, you could find me at the swimming pool practicing my swim strokes or my kicks so I could qualify for the swim team.  Mr. Eugene M. Brown was our swim teacher and coach.  We would practice under his supervision.  I would hear him say, “Straighten your arms, put more power in your kick, use the kick board”.  We also trained with weights on our ankles so that we could develop strong and powerful kicks, in order to win at the swim meets.

Mr. Brown was instrumental in my life and all of our lives.  He required of us: excellence, training, education, personal appearance and good manners.  He has impacted and imprinted on each of our lives and helped us to become the persons and people we are today!

God bless him.