Outside Looking In
Recently, I was watching a YouTube video about a man who reunited with a high school classmate that bullied him in school and forgave him after 30 years.
That made me decide to tell a story that I have only shared with one other person in my life. It happened when I was 11 years old.
I grew up in Tracy. When the devastating F5 tornado struck my hometown in 1968, it completely destroyed the three-story elementary school a block away from our home.
We were forced to move to the other end of town and when I was in fifth grade, the former high school was turned into the elementary school, while a new high school had just been built on the south edge of town.
Back then, it wasn't uncommon for children to walk to school alone as abductions were almost unheard of. Our home was six or seven blocks from what was now my elementary school.
For some reason, I was singled out by an oversized high school freshman as someone to pick on when I walked past his house. I was very slender then and not about to fight someone over twice my size. It started out as modest bullying. He would push me down in the grass and I would pick myself up, say nothing, and walk the rest of the way home. After a few days of this, the intensity of the bullying would increase. He would push me down hard, hold me down with his foot for a minute or so, and let me go. Again, I said nothing, did not cry, and left his front yard.
He told me each time that if I told anyone, he would make things worse. I believed him.
It was when I decided to go the long way home that irritated him most, I guess. After a couple of weeks of not seeing him, I decided to walk my usual way home, figuring he had finally found a new hobby.
I was wrong. As soon as I got near his house, he popped out behind a large tree and shoved me down hard. To this day, I wonder if he waited for me every day for the two weeks I went an alternate route, and his anger reached a boiling point.
As I lay on the ground, he grabbed me by my ankles an started dragging me to the back of his house. It was then I felt I was going to be beaten to a bloody pulp and left for dead. Still, I didn't scream or cry.
When he stopped dragging me, he reached down and grabbed me by my shoulder and maneuvered my head in front of a dried up dog pile and then held me down. He told me several times to eat it or he wouldn't let me up. I refused. So, he buried my face in it and held it there for several seconds.
This time I ran home crying. When I walked inside, my mother was the only one home and asked me what happened. I lied. I told her I had fallen down in a dog pile.
I can still see my mother trying not to laugh as she pictured what I had just described to her.
Apparently, the dog pile incident was the pinnacle of this boy's bullying. He never bothered me again.
Turn the clock ahead to five years ago when my two-year-old granddaughter developed liver cancer that eventually led to a liver transplant. A GoFundMe account was set up by a friend of my daughter and son-in-law to defray medical costs.
Many people donated to the cause, although several people wished to remain anonymous. One large amount in particular was donated anonymous and I wondered if it was someone that I knew that had seen it on my Facebook account. Only the person that sets up the account could see the name of the person, so I checked with him.
It was the bully, who now lives in Arkansas. He had been told about my granddaughter by his sister, who still lived in the Tracy area and heard about my granddaughter from a former coach of mine. I contacted his sister and asked her to give me her brother's number, but I never told her why.
He answered the phone and was stunned it was me calling. I thanked him for the donation and his voice began to crack.
"This was my way of saying I'm sorry for what I did to you a long time ago," he said.
Tears filled my eyes and I was about to say "apology accepted", but he had already hung up the phone.
I haven't spoken with him since, but it's nice to see that some people do grow up.
Opera Hall busy
The Opera Hall will be bustling with activity on Sunday, April 24.
From 1-2 p.m., the public is invited to network with artists and arts supporters in the Lyon County area. Refreshments will be provided. The SMAC staff will be available to connect with those in attendance and get the word out about SMAC and was services they provide.
From 2-4 p.m., Kindred Spirits & Friends will provide musical entertainment. See their ad in this issue of the Mascot for further details.