Women's History Month - Mary Walker
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora is a stunning story.
Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848 and freed when she was 15 years old. She became a mother at 20 and at that point, one might think that it would be too late to learn to read. When she was 68 she was too old to work and share crop. You might think that it was, once again, too late to learn to read. When Mary turned 114 years old, her oldest son died at the age of 94. She was the only living member of her immediate family.
Folks, Mary Walker learned to read when she was 116 years old. ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN YEARS old! I read this story and was filled with hope, motivation, and a little shame. I have found myself, in my saddest moments, lamenting that I have spent the last 10 years wanting a children's bookshop and still don't have one. I've wallowed in self-pity that I have yet to publish a children's book. But Mary Walker learned to read when she was 116 years old.
|I love the photographs used on the end papers.|
I recently had a long conversation with my cousin. We talked about our futures, what we hoped to accomplish, the ups and downs of being a stay-at-home mom, etc. And we talked about my nephew Nate, who lost his life when he was 11, and her mom, Mary Ellen, who died suddenly of cancer a couple years ago. Both had so many years left to give. Mary Walker could have given up at any time but she used her years. I made a promise, to myself and to my cousin, to use the years that Nate and Mary Ellen didn't get. To not waste the years I have left.
You should too. Mary Walker learned to read at 116 years old. Mary Oliver once asked, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I'll ask you something similar...
What will you do with your years? You may not get 116 of them but don't think it's ever too late to learn something new.