Opal from Arkansas
One of my first mentors was Opal, a petite, elderly woman who hailed from Arkansas, curled her hair every night with what seemed like a thousand pin curlers, and made one of the best pecan pies you’ve ever tasted. Opal and her husband lived in the house behind mine. In my eight-year-old mind, they were rich. They always had an assortment of Little Debbie snack cakes available for the taking, along with ice cold mini bottles of Coca-Cola. They also had a riding lawn mower. Now that was rich, especially in Southwest Florida where lawns never stop growing and the humidity makes even the most dedicated sun-worshipper melt like a ball of wax. I was elated when they actually allowed me to ride that spectacular machine!
Opal taught me the value of sharing. She gave freely of whatever she had, whether it was time, resources or knowledge, and her door was always open. I remember spending hours with her learning how to play rummy, pinochle, and spite and malice, an intricate game that required several decks of cards. Sometimes I would forget the rules, but Opal patiently helped me catch up with all of the adults around the table. She treated me as someone valuable and worth spending time with. I was the youngest person in the game, but I felt just as important and capable as all of the grown-ups.
Opal also taught me about healthy relationships. She loved her husband, Lewis, and modeled an atmosphere of mutual respect and kindness. I was always excited when I had the opportunity to spend the night at their house in the special guest room. It was a comfortable, peaceful place. Sometimes I even tried to help Opal put the pin curlers in her hair, but I never quite got the hang of it.
As their health deteriorated, Opal and Lewis decided to move back to Arkansas to be near their children. It was difficult to leave sunny Florida and the many friendships they had cultivated, but they had prayed about it and knew it was for the best. Most importantly, they had made the decision together. That’s what I witnessed. In my young, impressionable mind I was learning what it meant to be a loving spouse, good neighbor and true friend.
I’ve had many other mentors since Opal, and each one has made an investment in my life that will reap eternal rewards. Like ripples created by a stone thrown into a placid pond, mentor moments live on.
On March 17, 2015, the Upstate will have the opportunity to hear another amazing story of a life transformed by mentors who cared. Miracle Hill Ministries will host country singer Jimmy Wayne as our keynote speaker for our annual fundraising banquet at the TD Convention Center. As a child, Jimmy was abused, neglected and abandoned. He spent time in foster care and ultimately ended up as a homeless teenager. But along the way, some key individuals took an interest in Jimmy and helped him move to a place of hope, healing and reconciliation. He chronicled his journey in his newly-released autobiography Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and A Homeless Kid Who Found the Way. I hope you will consider joining us for this inspiring evening. Click here to register.
Click below to watch one of Jimmy Wayne’s music videos: