11 August 2020

A great mind on some really young shoulders

“Wait, how did you get so much mental strength to withstand all this?”
“I do not know. I was determined not to follow in my parents’ path.”
“That takes some real determination.”

I was so engrossed in the conversation that I had completely forgotten to make up my mind what to have for lunch when Brelyn (Howard) came to check on us.

Let’s back up a little.

John and I was up to our usual Sunday thing – ride our motorbikes to some small town in Georgia, have lunch there, meet some local people and come back home. The town of choice this Sunday was Ellijay which is fairly popular with tourists nestled in the mountains of North Georgia.

We parked our cars and spotted a restaurant – “Emily’s Bar and Restaurant” on the other side of the road. There was a table open in the front patio. We agreed to settle down there. (BTW, if any of you go there – they have a lot of outside patio tables in the back – which I found out later).

That is when Brelyn came to help us out. John and I chatted her up asking her a few questions about the local area.

“Are you from this area?”, I asked
“Yes”
“Do your parents live here?”
“Well, my parents are not your run of the mill parents. They are drug addicts. My mom is in jail and my dad is on the run.”

Well, I was not sure what to say next. Brelyn, as I found out later, had just finished high school and apparently that was her parental background.

“Wait, so who is taking care of you? Meaning…” (I suddenly realized that as a 18/19-year old, she is an adult)
“Well, I stay with my grandparents.”
“So, they have taken care of you?”
“Yes. They are the loveliest people. Specially my grandma.”

“Do you have brothers and sisters?”
“Five sisters. Actually three step sisters. My grandparents are raising my younger sister too.”
“They sound like amazing human beings. Are they from your father’s side or mother’s side?”
“Mom’s side.”

“I have to ask you a question. With that background, you do realize that your life could have turned out very different, right?”
“Yes, sir. I am aware.”
“The peer pressure… the temptations at high school… those are difficult things for a young adult like you.”
“Yes”
“So, then how did you get keep yourself on the straight and the narrow?”
“I have seen my parents. I was determined what not to be.”

For a moment, as John asked her something, my mind floated back to my own daughters. I hope some day all kids like them will grow up to realize how lucky and blessed they have been. I shuddered to even think of a hypothetical situation of something like that befalling my own daughters.

As I snapped back to the present moment, I got Brelyn’s attention again…

“You know, Brelyn, for a kid your age – allow me to call you a kid – I have two daughters – one a couple of years younger to you and another a couple of years older…”
“I certainly think of myself as a kid.”
“… for a kid of your age, as I was saying… you have an incredibly strong mind. I think, at the end of the day, that is what will make the biggest difference in your life.”

“Have you thought of going to college?”
“Yes. Right now I am working in the mornings to earn money.”
“What would you like to be when you grow up?”
“I have a couple of ideas…”
“You know what? That is the best thing. Don’t make up your mind yet. Keep it open – try out new things and then settle down on what you want to do the rest of your life”.

“Before we leave, can I take a picture with you – would love to post your story on my blog.”

“Sure thing. Send it to me on Facebook. I will read it up.”

Riding back the lonely backroads of Georgia, I got yet another understanding of what privilege means and how I still have so much to learn from folks that are one-third my age!!!

If any of you make it to Ellijay, try out Emily’s (great food and nice presentation – that will take you by surprise) and if you are there for lunch – make sure you say Hi to Brelyn (she pronounces her name like the cheese).

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Posted August 11, 2020 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points

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