There once was a young girl whose parents were immigrants to this country from Guatemala. They both worked hard, sometimes at more than one job at a time, to make ends meet. They were finally able to make a down payment on a trailer that had seen better days, but it was theirs, with enough room to hold the young girl, her little brother, her baby sister, and her grandma in more comfort than the cramped apartment they’d shared with two other families.
The young girl used to daydream in school about going to college, putting money in a savings account, and one day becoming a nurse. Her teachers praised her for her quiet intelligence, her hard work, and her devotion to her siblings. What the young girl didn’t tell them, though, was that part of her dream was that her father would quit drinking, quit going to beer joints and then coming home late, screaming, dragging her mother out of bed and waking up the children so they could watch as he beat her, dragged her by the hair, and sometimes threw her out the front door, weeping, bruised, and bloodied.
Finally came the day when her secret couldn’t be hidden any longer. Just before school let out for Thanksgiving, her father beat her mother so badly she had to be hopitalized. The police came that night and arrested her father. Her elderly grandma was beside herself with worry for her daughter, but with no transportation and no English, it was the young girl who was left with navigating of the sea of doctors and social workers and cops who invaded their lives.
The young girl poured her heart out to a teacher the next day after school, and it was as if a dam broke. Her fears, frustrations, and pain gushed out in torrents. Her immediate concern, though, was that there was no food in the house, save a few cans. Because the whole family was in the country without papers, they did not have assistance with food stamps or any other kind of aid.
The teacher thought what a small thing it would be for her to gather items for a Thanksgiving dinner that very evening and take it to the shell shocked grandma and kids. Another teacher heard about it and joined in, as well.
The two delivered the food that night, from a robust turkey to stuffing to cranberry sauce and desserts. To the teachers’ surprise, the bruised and swollen mother had just arrived back at the house, driven there by an off duty nurse. The thankfulness of the mom and children touched the teachers’ hearts, but what pulled tears from their eyes was when the little grandma walked quietly to each, brushed a crooked brown finger over their foreheads and prayed a blessing in Spanish over them. As the teachers made their way back to their cars, the young girl came running out after them. “I’ll never forget this,” she murmured as she hugged them both.
The year passed and the young girl moved away from the teachers’ lives when her mom packed them up and moved to another town, leaving the father behind to serve his jail sentence.
Her teacher was thrilled when almost twenty years after the Thanksgiving incident, the young girl, now a young woman, found her long ago teacher on Facebook. They exchanged joyful messages back and forth and the teacher was happy to see pictures of her former student’s husband and their new baby, of her graduation from nursing school, and the pictures of her working in her new job at a hospital.