This column, “The Town That Built Me,” first appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.
I thought it was such a good article that I wanted to share it with all of you. It was written by my daughter, Melissa, who is an outstanding product of the Joplin School system and currently is working as a law clerk for a federal judge.
When you click on the link, look in the 2011 archives to find this article.
Here is a tease:
“As a small girl, I would walk in circles around the giant metal cross that stood outside my church. As my parents caught up with their friends after mass, I would trace my hand across its rough surface, rusted from the weather, biding my time until I could pick out a Sunday donut. After a few trips around, I would stop, stare up at the towering rood, and slap my hand against it to listen to the echo move through its hollow center up to the sky.
In that stage of my life, I told my parents I wanted to be a hospital when I grew up. Impossibility meant nothing to me, and not a single real worry wandered my way. Life was a given, just like that cross standing tall to greet us every Sunday morning, or my brother walking home from Irving Elementary with me every Monday afternoon, or a stadium of fans cheering on the Eagles at home football games on Fridays nights. But even as a young girl, that town began to build skills in me that I would need somewhere down the line, slowly teaching me lessons about respecting others, facing challenges head on, and never giving up. Because two blocks away from that church, at a small two-story brick elementary school, I learned that sometimes just being nice to others can change their whole day when a classmate helped dust off my jeans after a spill on the playground. A few more blocks down the road at South Middle School, I learned that perseverance pays off after spending hours and hours squeaking notes out of my clarinet before I could play the song just right. And a few miles away on the volleyball and basketball court of Joplin High School, I learned that success isn’t necessarily measured in the number of wins at the end of the season, but in the way the game is played…”