When Lois Call was 18 months old, a cup of hot grease tipped over and spilled onto her head. It ran down her face, neck, and onto her shoulders causing a serious burn. The doctor made a house call to examine this little girl. After the exam, he placed bandages on her head and turned to her mother to deliver the bad news.
“Mrs. Call, these are serious burns, and I don’t know if your daughter will live or if she will die. If she does live she may be blind, but one thing is certain, she will have terrible scars. He left with a promise to come back and check on her, which he did faithfully.
Several weeks later the family learned that their precious little girl was not blind, and they enjoyed a moment of relief as they celebrated this miracle.
As she grew older the physical pain subsided. When it was time to start school, however, the emotional pain from being laughed at, called names, and taunted in every way imaginable was a new experience. She endured this pain the best she could. Her parents and family protected her as much as they could, but it was not enough. Eventually, the surgeon’s knife eliminated most of her scars.
Lois had a special friend throughout her challenging childhood who accepted her for who she was. This friend wasn’t embarrassed by her appearance and became Lois’ confidante and protector.
In the spring of 1943, Lois graduated from Logan High School and entered Utah State University in the fall. In light of the many challenges she faced growing up, this was an especially big step for her.
Her older sister, Melba, was a beautiful young woman attending the same university. She belonged to a sorority and was well liked among her sorority sisters. She strongly encouraged Lois to pledge this sorority and, with her sister’s influence, she was accepted. Both sisters were excited.
Not long after her acceptance, Lois was called into a conference by some of her sorority sisters. In this meeting they started talking to her about her friend and told her that they didn’t want her associating with her childhood friend. They suggested that Lois drop this friend in order to stay in the sorority.
I don’t know what Lois said to those girls, but I know what she did. She left the sorority, never once regretting her decision, and continued her relationship with her friend.
All of her life, Lois, my mother, was passionate about friendship and treating others with respect. She taught us to accept all people no matter their circumstances or physical appearance. My mother experienced first hand the difficulties associated with ignorance and thoughtlessness and dealing with those who lacked tolerance. Now you know where Lois got the strength to not let sorority sisters dictate who her friends could and could not be.
As parents we can use Lois’ example to provide a family foundation for treating others who are different with respect and tolerance. Let’s communicate the importance of acceptance and friendship. Let’s not tolerate bullying or cruelty from our children to others. If our children are bullied or not accepted by others, let’s help them develop the courage and strength to channel their frustrations in an effective direction.
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Let us help our children learn and apply the teachings of this poem:
Please don’t make fun of the man who limps as he comes along the road
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears and struggled beneath his load.
Don’t scoff at the man who’s down today unless you have felt the blow
That caused his fall and know the shame that only the fallen know.
Don’t be harsh with the one who sins, don’t pelt him with wood or stone
Unless you are sure, yes doubly sure that you have no faults of your own.
Quotes from Glenn Cunningham’s book “American Miler: the life and times of Glenn Cunningham” by Paul J. Kiell, MD, 2006.