Reflecting on A Past Role Model

Reflecting on A Past Role Model

Who is a role model in your life? I have always hated that question. I never felt I had one. I do not know if it was pride, lack of self-confidence or what, but I never pictured myself as being able to define someone as a leader in my life. I was wrong. It has taken a few decades to get over myself and appreciate the people who have guided me in the past.

Past teachers, youth leaders, church parents and neighbors have made us who we are today. The expectations these people hold you to and the examples they set can influence you long before you realize it. Hopefully the good experiences have stuck with us and any bad ones have been left behind.

In my community, we had Judy Truckenbroad. She was a substitute teacher, my 4-H leader and neighbor. She was committed and energetic to every task she took on with my peers and me. I do not remember too many specific examples of our interactions. I do not think we ever had a heart-to-heart on deep personal matters, but what has stuck with me all these years was her consistency. She was always there, full of positive energy, efficiency and helpfulness.

This may seem mundane, but to me, it was life-changing.

My brother and I had to go to Judy’s house for something and could not go home for supper. This woman amazed me with two things. First, how effortlessly she made a big, family style meal in less time than it took to write this sentence. Really. Roast beef, green beans, potatoes and rolls. Presto – she could give Rachel Ray a run for her money any day! At my house, adding double the number of diners on a moment’s notice would have gotten the same reaction as an alien invasion. To Judy, it was no big deal.

The second thing — and this one is quite shocking: after supper, I swept the floor and was beside myself because you know that little pile of dust that just never makes it onto the dust pan? I did not know what to do with it, being at my substitute teacher’s house and all. Well, Judy came along and did what I do at home. She flicked the broom over it and made it disappear! It was a shock for me; this woman who was good at teaching us to doing things the right way shirked on a basic household chore. She showed me it’s okay to not worry about the little things.

I am fortunate to have had some really good people in my life during my formative years. If those folks had not been so consistent, supportive and enthusiastic, who knows the message a young tween would have taken from that. In spite of the indifference a young teeny-bopper showed these leaders, they did not stop setting a good example and doing the right thing.

Some messages are not meant to be understood at the time, I guess.

Now, I am hopeful my children will have such positive role models in their life. As a parent, I will seek out groups like 4-H, FFA, or sports, not just because of the activities they offer but because of the volunteers who take the time to support these kids who may not understand or show their gratitude until they have kids of their own. A parent’s role is important, but the saying “it takes a village” has its place in creating a well-rounded individual.

For all of you who have youth and little ones in your life, you are their inspiration, even though they do not realize it. Even a task such a sweeping the floor or making dinner will guide them in ways you never dreamed.

By Kathleen Clark