Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the power of three

three amazing people I have encountered in my life here in Wilmington have passed in the last 10 days. It is perhaps a sign that I am getting older and I know more folks who are dying or a sign that I have cast a wide net in which I have encountered and had the priviledge to know people and so therefore it is bound to happen that I will know of many who pass as well..but I have to say that here, in these passings, I am just grateful because knowing these souls..being known by these people and having a chance to hear their stories, must less hug their necks or share time with them is a treasure.

Gary, Anne, and Dora...three people who probably met each other...I have no idea. Considering the lives they influencing parks, one navigating all things good for planned parenthood, the colleges in the region, educaiton, and the other making a career out of reporting for a small newspaper nearby and then ending her life turning a horrific tragedy into a courgeous advocacy..but all intrinsically linked to selflessly giving and living lives that are such amazing powers of example....It is humbling to know and be influenced by each.

I have shared about Gary in a post recently. I met Gary over 10 years ago when a Mayor at the time appointed me to my first city board: Parks and Recreation. I remember very much why I wanted to be on that board: I wanted to influence gaining more green space and I wanted to see what could be done to get more facilities for seniors in our region. The very first meeting of the board I was a fish out of water, but as you can imagine I dove right in. Gary just sat back in his chair and across a wry smile listened as I babbled on..and at the very end said "I like you..we are going to do good things".

Today I know what he saw in me was someone who was willing to speak out for things that he spent his life working everyday on. I soon learned that Gary was the one that, behind the scenes, slowly and methodically, from one city council to another, from one Mayor to another, from one ploy and hoy to another, made it possible in a county that does not like taxes and is conservative about the way money is spent on things that may appear "non essential" but prides itself on its charm and its eminities, ensured that what parks and recreation was out there was for ALL people in the region and that everyone had a seat at the table and all concerns, wishes, and desieres were heard. I watched a master of consensus building before me and someone who understood that while you cannot get everything for everybody, you can do great things for the whole community that can satisfy the majority looking forward and seeing how it impacts the future. This is man who single handedly engineered a parks and recreation bond referendum in our county and got it passed as the tea party movement was on the rise. He demonstrated how this would effect our future and how got partners together that could make it happen. Make no mistake, no one did this more than Gary. And no one would have sooner run from trying to take credit or stepping into the spot light than Gary. This was just what he did. It was who he was..and for 100 years into the future and then some, what he did will impact this city in a positive way. But in my life, once I shut up from that first meeting and listened to him, learned how he got things he forged ahead..stayed on target with what needed to get done and let the detractors, the racists, those who needed power and priviledge have at it with what they needed..and just stayed focused on doign what was right for the community...once I understood how he did that..well..I saw a soul that, though human, was admirable and someone to be not admired, but cherished. His spirtit is probably trying to push through right now and cramp my fingers so I can't write this..saying this praise was not what he liked...he loved the work..but it is good to is good to is good to see and it is an honor.

Mrs. Ann Rowe first came into my life years ago at the Albert Schweitzer Honors Scholars Event that our Honors Office Hosts. Each year we reconginze somone in the Cape Fear region who exempliefies the work and life of Albert Schwietzer. This lecutre and award grew out of a program that one of our founding fathers of Honors at UNCW, Dr. Gerald Shinn and others started here with the Albert Schwietzer International Prizes. Those prizes hosted the likes of Beverly Sills and Mother Theresa at UNCW..and Anne Rowe was on that board and a leader in the community and development for making that happen. She was a force for education and health in the region and devoted her life to planned parenthood (healthy babies, women's reproductive rights and good health) and everything imaginable for all people for education. She got it atht what she had could make a difference for others and believed fervently in the responsibiltity to see that happen in everyting she was involved in.  After their prizes disappated, they were turned into the awards and each year Anne would come to the ceremony where we have honored folks like Dr. Ken White, Margaret Weller Stargell, Susan Dankel, Jock Brandis and the like. Each year, her angelic and warm presence lit up the room and she was a delight to the students. Mind you..that as the ceremony progressed she was in her 90's, but the involvement with the students, the engagement with the good works, and the opportunity to give was never something that slowed her down. She was always at UNCW or Cape Fear Community College doing something for students..and a hug from her was like a warm breeze from a kind soul. You just knew you had been engaged with someone who genuinely cared about the world and the people in it and that was the business of her day. She made it her business to help and create good things for others...another life to exemplify..another to be humbled to know.

Dora Corbett was someone I only met twice. That, frankly was enough to make me grateful and will keep me grateful for a lifetime.

Let me back up..I am not some big shot when I say that that our District Attorney is my friend. I knew him long before he was our district attorney and he and his amazing and lovely wife strarted to try and re-populate Forest Hills elementary school with thier own family (LOL)...He just happens to be an amazing man for which good things have happened and in turn good things have happend to a lot of folks with him becoming out DA...That said..we were planning a fundraiser for Coastal Horizons, which is the board I have served the longest on. Coastal serves the largest popluations for Substance Abuse and Mental health in the region and is also home to our Youth Shelter as well as our amazing Rape Crisis Center. Ben , being the amazing DA that he is, had someone special that he wanted to bring to the event.

As he stood on stage he began to tell the story of sexual assualt in our region and what he had seen as our chief law enforcement officer. He talked about the violence and he talked about its effects on everyone and then, as his voice broke a litle, he told the story about a woman, 78 years, old who had spent her whole life as a professional, writing, and living a goodlife. She lived in a small town area, in a pleasant home, very ameicana, and in one day, her life was altered forever. She was, and I have to admit I have blocked out some of the details of what happened, brutally and savagely raped in her home. At 78.
She was left for dead..
As he finished the story, his voice rose in a way that was..and it is hard to explain..but there was a mixture of emotion, pride, and celebration..he said, and today, "here, almost two years later, joined with us today and her detective who helped to capture and bring to justice her attacker, I would like to present, Mrs. Dora Corbett".
Everyone in the room turned to the spot from which his hand gestured and rushed to their feet in applause..with tears streaming down their faces as the demure, courageous, and amazing woman..this survivor..rose to her feet and allowed the crowed to collective hug and embrace her...all 300 people in the room...It was a moment I will never forget and one I have told Ben time and time again, one I will always be grateful for. Here was hope, survival, justice, triumph, LIFE! standing before us..and she was power! The power....She never slowed down becoming a witness and an advocate, though Cancer was ultimatley what took her at 84. But knowing her..knowing how she took such a horrific moment and taught us all how to LIVE...again...a life to exemplify..a life to be humbled by.

Now, all this is not here to eulogize..that is for others in thier lives..this is just for me to note becuase this is part of the journey that I would never have had without the blessings of the connections...the "greater through love and support"..the connections by being tapped in..the perfection that is part of it all...Just recognizing the power of the lives that are around us sometimes is the most beautfiul thing that I can witness in a single day...and I am so so very grateful!

thanks be!

No comments: