Charley’s World Episode Twenty

When Charley arrived at the Learning Center the next morning, he wasn’t surprised to see Gloria there. She was always early. What shocked Charley was that Sam was there with her, helping her with her reading. Charley wasn’t sure what had happened to Sam, but it was a delight to see.

As he started his day, he couldn’t help but reflect on Gloria’s journey to the center. Charley first met her through an introduction by Nellie. Gloria was the unofficial minister of the AME church. As Nellie explained it, “Gloria is the heart of our church. She is our historian. She is our role model. She is our caregiver. She is in every one of our souls.”

As Charley got to know Gloria, he learned that she had a difficult start in life. Her father had disappeared before she was born. Her mother’s health was never good, and when Gloria was very young she became the provider for her mother. She told Charley that her mother was a house cleaner who took Gloria with her to her jobs. Gloria did the actual cleaning because her mother simply didn’t have the energy. Gloria fell through the cracks of the local school system and never attended school.

She married after her mother passed away and had three children. She insisted that they get an education. Two had college degrees. Gloria’s husband was killed in a job related accident after the children had left home and started their own families. With an insurance settlement, Gloria could finally fulfill her life’s desire, and that was to learn to read.

Reading didn’t come easy to her. She struggled from the very beginning. What Gloria lacked in reading skills, she more than made up for it in life’s wisdom. She became the person that other participants turned to for guidance; all except Sam. That’s why this morning was so special to Charley.

In addition to Sam helping Gloria with her reading, she was giving Sam advice on his upcoming family outing with Ernie. Sam had never been to church, and he didn’t know proper dinner etiquette. His parents had never had him sit down with them for dinner. Charley was delighted to see the bonding that seemed to be occurring.

What Charley never expected was where the bonding would take both Gloria and Sam, and how this bonding gave him an idea for expanding the scope of the center.

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“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach (author)