Good is a great word. Really. Good is a great word because it is so solid, so fundamental, so foundational. There are lots of superlative words in circulation out there—amazing, awesome, fabulous, incredible, glorious to name a few—but superlative words can be superficial, are sometimes artificial, and are often overused. Good, on the other hand, is a word that runs deep, is usually authentic, and probably is not used enough.
“She is a good worker.”
“He has a good heart.”
“They are a good family.”
The word “good” runs through these sentences like a solid steel beam; it conveys depth, strength and stability. “Good” is a great thing to be.
I am blessed to have some truly good people in my life. This week’s stories feature a few of them.
Mr. Mitchell, my OPA Junior High Principal, is a southern gentleman, a retired Air Force something-high-up, and a really good guy. He grew up roaming the woods and he misses it. He especially misses being able to shoot his gun. Last week he said to me, "Do you know anyone who has property where I could just shoot my gun? I wouldn't kill anything. I just really miss being able to be outdoors and shoot."
Justin Ropelato, a young father, a counselor in our bishopric, and a really good guy, has access to property that fits Mr. Mitchell’s needs. Justin does not know Mr. Mitchell from Adam (or from anyone else for that matter) and having an unknown person roaming one's property with a loaded gun isn't something that most people would consider a good idea however Justin willingly opened his schedule and his property to my boss. Amazing (in the non-superfluous use of the word)!
Grace had her tonsils and adenoids removed last week. Surgery is glamorous….until you have it. It has been a hard couple weeks for her. The new braces hurt so much she didn’t eat solid food for nearly two weeks. Two and a half weeks after the braces she had surgery and didn’t eat solid food (or talk) for another two weeks. Darling Bert Smith, Grace’s former Sunday School teacher, a current Intermountain Health employee, and a genuinely good man, checked on her multiple times in the surgical center and multiple times after we left. [NOTE: After seeing that a tonsillectomy stopped Grace from talking for two weeks, Lance is trying to figure out how to get Tanah to have her tonsils out….one at a time!]
Hans Moffett, whose sister Heidi and I were college roommates and whose Mom and Dad were my Utah parents when I attended BYU, made a special trip to OPA, timing his arrival so that it coincided exactly with my 25 minute lunch break, to deliver a couple snake skins and bird nests—perfect things for a junior high science classroom. It would have been much, MUCH easier for him to throw them away but Hans is a truly good man and good men recognize treasures and the message that personally delivered treasures sends.
The citizens of Roy are good people too. Friday night Roy High played Timpview High for the State Football Championship. There were easily two, maybe three, times more fans on the Roy side of the stadium than there were on the opposite side. Sadly we did not come away with the championship but we did come away with a great sense of community. Go Royals!!
It was the night before the night of the final, FINAL dress rehearsal and Tanah was still missing three hats. A late night visit to Wal-Mart and Joanne’s Craft yielded nothing; it is simply not the right time of year for large straw hats. At 10 p.m. I sent the following email to all OPA employees. “REQUESTING HELP!!! My darling daughter needs three large straw hats for her upcoming production of ‘Hello Dolly’. If you have a hat you could donate or have ideas of where I could find one (...or 3!), please let me know.” Within 24 hours there were four straw hats sitting on the desk in my classroom—two from people in the elementary building that I do not even know. Ogden Preparatory Academy employees are truly good people.
OPA students are truly good people too. I took a group of 27 kids to the University of Utah’s nuclear reactor last Friday. Our plan was to walk the mile plus from the school to the FrontRunner station and catch the 8:37 a.m. train to SLC. Timing was tight. We were right on schedule to make it………until we hit Wall Avenue. Wall is a busy, four lane highway that runs north/south on Ogden’s west side and the pedestrian light that would allow us to cross legally was not to be hurried. We could see the train idling across the street; it was only 100 yards (and four lanes of traffic) away. Four minutes until the train pulled out…..then three……and the light that needed to be red to allow us to cross legally had not yet turned yellow. Trains do not wait. Neither did we.
I saw a slight break in traffic. “RUN!” I yelled to my 8th graders. And they did…..across the street, across the parking lot, across the sidewalks, and across the track in front of the train. In between my sprinting-induced huffing and puffing I breathed a big sigh of relief when the first kids ran in front of train. I figured it would not pull out, even though it was scheduled to leave, as long as there were kids (even if the kids were teenagers!) on the tracks in front of it. We made it! And that was good. Really, really good.
“Mom,” Miles whispered urgently to me, “They are auctioning something from Spencer and no one has bid on it yet. Can I bid $10?” Our congregation sponsored an auction, featuring items donated by church members, the proceeds from which will go directly to buy Christmas presents for community members. Miles, concerned for Spencer’s feelings, bid on the item, not knowing what it was. [Miles, bless him, has a good, good heart.] Turns out that Miles, the acknowledged math whiz of the entire fifth grade at Midland Elementary, purchased an hour of math tutoring….which actually might turn out to be a good thing. Chick, Tanah’s math tutor, is unavailable for the next two years so that hour of math tutoring might be put to good use by Tanah……in which case we really should be concerned for Spencer’s feelings. Tanah is NOT an easy-to-tutor math student. [Lance and I are afraid of teaching her math….with or without tonsils!]
So, I’ve been dissing on Tanah a bit (…a tiny bit…..) but she really is a good person too. And she is a FABULOUS drunk. “Hello Dolly” opened Thursday. Lance gasped out loud when, in response to the lead’s statement “I hear you have a lot of money…”, she slurred, “Yes, in my garter” and pulled up her skirt. She wobbled around the stage, danced on a table, gurgled from a flask, and left loud lipstick marks all over a waiter’s face. Oh yes, she was good! If you haven’t seen it and are local, you have two more chances. Shows start at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday night at Roy High. Tickets are available at the door.
Triplets are good too. And living triplets are even better. My ewe had three lambs early Wednesday morning and, at press time, all three are living and thriving.
Sisters are also good. And my sister is really good. Really, really good. So good, in fact, that I will skip the superlatives and boldly declare that she is the best.
The story starts in March 21, 2013 when Marjorie, my true sister, mailed me a package that was clearly marked “Do NOT open until November 20, 2014”. Really? Yes, really!! The package sat in my t-shirt drawer for over a year and a half. Thursday I opened it. (The real miracle is not that I did not open it early; it is that I could still find it a year and a half after receiving it.)
Thursday, when I opened my email, I found that my sister (the same one)—knowing that I love stories—had solicited stories about me from family members and sent them to me for my birthday.
Thursday evening I opened my door to find Sallie arranging a bouquet of flowers in my kitchen, flowers sent me by my sister and my parents.
Also Thursday, two minutes before the final bell closed school for the day, Mr. Mitchell opened the intercom. Over the loud speaker, to the entire school, he said, “We have a very important announcement to make. We want to wish Mrs. Hislop a Happy Birthday. Today she turns 65 years old.” SIXTY-FIVE!!!! “With love from your sister”, he concluded.
The final bell rang and kids poured into my classroom. “You didn’t tell us it was your birthday!” “You don’t look 65!” “He must of read it backwards; you’re 56, right?” “Happy Birthday Mrs. Hislop!!” It was awesome. AWESOME. I feigned horror but I loved it.
Many, many years ago, my father had a birthday during the county fair. It was his 52nd birthday so my brother and I arranged for the following announcement made over the P.A. to everyone at the Washington County Fair: “Today is Mr. Wright Noel’s 65th birthday. Anyone who would like to is invited to join him in the pig barn for cake.” [There was cake in the pig barn but there was not a 65 year old!]
The instant Mr. Mitchell said “65” I felt totally loved. My darling sister cared enough to call the school, wade through the secretaries, speak to my boss, arrange for the delivery of a personal birthday message, and, best of all, she gave me a great story. She is good. Very, very good.
P.S. Just for the record……..I am NOT 65!!!