Oct. 25, 2017

EARTH ANGELS

Anything is possible when you believe in yourself. You might say....I learned, over-time, to believe in me.... with some outside help.  What's remarkable is learning there are no rules or requirements or guidebooks... when you challenge a life-long dream. All it takes is believing in yourself and the possibilities.

Never under-estimate the dreams of a child. Growing up, I was sickly, prone to earaches, colds, a weak stomach, anxiety, and always described by the doctor as "frail". But, the Angels around me saw potential. Even today, when I listen to the little voice inside me, another Angel appears to connect me with another Angel and...on and on.  My Angels are impossible to forget, especially my Angels from childhood like.....

My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Moore. On the last day of school, she placed my much-loved Geography Book in my hands.  I was only nine years old, yet my wise teacher realized the seriousness of My Dream.  As if anointed to be the Architect of my Fate, Ms. Moore encouraged me, on that last school day, to keep pursing My Dream, then issued this challenge: “Grow up, finish school, then go to China and travel The Great Wall. Find all the answers—to all the questions—I couldn’t answer; discover the many secrets hidden there by its builders. Afterward, you will be responsible for sharing your Great Wall Journey with the World.”

My teacher made it sound easy---like riding a city bus across town. Forty years later, when the complicated plans were finalized and I was just two weeks away from my first-ever journey of The Great Wall of China—I reunited with Ms. Moore.

I found her in a welfare nursing home, reduced to a wheelchair and barely able to move.  Ms. Moore responded to my voice by slowly raising her head, looking in my direction. Weak and barely-able to speak above a whisper, she said, “Oh, Sally, it’s really you. A sweet nurse read me the article about your permission to travel China’s Wall. I never forgot how much you loved that Wall. I’m so happy for you and.... I promise to be with you each step of the way.”

I hugged the fragile body, marveling at the still-vibrant mind of my long-ago teacher. Our goodbyes were touching and also teary. I promised to call her when I finished my journey.

Seven months later, after completing All The Wall (the official name of my adventure), I returned to Beijing. I could hardly wait to call the nursing home, to speak with Ms. Moore,  and share the news of my Great Wall journey.

The nursing home receptionist, recognizing my voice, placed me on hold. The next voice I heard was that of the facility’s director. With deep sadness I learned Ms. Moore, my inspiring fourth-grade teacher, had “slipped away” during her sleep. I asked exactly when she had died. When I learned it was the very day I completed my Great Wall Adventure....I wasn’t surprised. 

Like finishing the happy ending of a book, I felt satisfied; at peace.  Ms. Moore didn’t need to hear about my Journey. Faithful to her promise, she’d been with me—each step of the way.

Sally Miller