The Measure of a Man

DSCN1736Thirty year high school class reunion. I was so excited, I saw the list, checked it twice… lots of my friends from school were coming and some were not…but many I had not seen in YEARS… Dressed up all spiffy and Ray wore red, his favorite color. We were ready for fun.

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Right when I walked into the country club, Polly, my dear friend, had a tree with the pictures and names of those who had passed away. There were not many, but seeing one of the pictures, I was overwhelmed with grief.  Kurtis… I had no idea!! What in the world happened to him?

Kurtis was in modified classrooms. WE never saw anyone in the special class until the bell rang.  He would change classes with the rest of us. He was very quiet. He had these huge, dark brown eyes, that were quite expressive, and was polite. He would seek me out. I talked to him many times. But I must admit, there were times when I was not in the mood. He was always a target for teasing,  I didn’t tease him but sometimes I would duck my head and pretend I could not see him looking at me, or calling my name. I was never mean, but just not as nice as I could have been all of the time.

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After we graduated, I ran into Kurtis at a concert. Once again, he sought me out. I did not remember his name, but he remembered mine. He told me how much it meant to him that I was nice to him in school. His parents were with him, standing right behind him, nodding their heads like they had heard all about me.

That was the last time I saw Kurtis.

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When I saw his picture on the tree, a huge lump of grief, followed by a gush of tears made me want to hide. I went into a corner until I gathered myself together, but

I asked all night… anyone anywhere know what happened to Kurtis? All of the other people on the tree; there was a story, there was someone who remembered how they passed; cancer, car accident… etc.. but ,

NO ONE knew what happened to Kurtis.

When I got home, I googled his name and I found out he died when he was 33, in 1999… but why? And did no one keep in touch with him? No one?? ouch.

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I see the same pain now in my daughter’s eyes. She is eight. she is in modified classrooms…she tries to talk to people. She tries to call “friends” on the phone that hang up on her. She cries because she wants to visit someone…anyone … on her own, but no one asks…. If someone is nice to her, even once, she remembers…she calls you her friend.

please don’t be like me. Remember her name, talk to her; I wish I knew then what I know now… it’s not the intelligence, the abilities, the speech and language that is a measure of worth, it is the heart and the soul of a person. Look and see… don’t look away. It matters the world to them. . . Gosh..

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One comment on “The Measure of a Man

  1. Your post hurt my heart. I wasn’t expecting it when I clicked on it. But I knew a “Kurtis” in high school too and I treated him the same as you did. I often wonder where he is and how he is doing and how he ever survived the treatment he got in school. I also see now, with my own son with autism what the real worth of a person is. Bless you and your family.

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