This weekend marks a milestone for me — it’s my eighth anniversary writing articles for the Sunday paper. It’s been such a privilege to share my thoughts with you, and I truly enjoy hearing from readers with comments and stories of their own.
This same weekend marks another milestone — it’s the 80th birthday of a dear friend of ours, Virginia. V, as we call her, became our friend nearly 35 years ago. This milestone marks eight decades of achievement for V.
In her early adulthood, she became one of the pioneers in the Miami Valley for special education. Kids with disabilities or “special needs” were not normally integrated into the schools in those days. They weren’t integrated much of anywhere, to tell the truth. But Virginia was one of the early leaders in helping students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.
When Matt was a brand new principal, she was the Special Education supervisor for the school district that also employed him. She taught him a lot about people with disabilities and together I watched from my sideline position of “Principal’s wife” as they helped create the first inclusion program in that particular school. Matt and V made a great team, and we forged a life-long friendship.
Virginia was also a friend to immigrants in our area. She lived in New Carlisle and had next door neighbors who immigrated to the area to work in agriculture. She was a great neighbor to them, helping them acclimate to our ways and sharing her knowledge of the area with them. V always has had a welcoming and caring heart, and it is evidenced in this part of her life, as well as with children with disabilities and their families.
Virginia is also a steadfast Iowa Hawkeye fan. Now, we, of course, are diehard Buckeyes, so that led to some spirited discussions. When our little baby son was just a few days old, V presented us with an Iowa Hawkeye outfit — t-shirt and tiny athletic shorts. There was no way we were allowing our precious son to wear such a thing, but we happily photographed our fox terrier wearing it and included it in our thank you note.
Our son grew up knowing V, as well. In the couple of years of high school, he and Virginia developed a special bond. He was too old to go to latchkey, but too young to drive, so he took the bus to her house and spent an hour or two after school with her — playing on computers, napping on her couch, or shooting the breeze. She became another part of his extended family, and helped us so much by opening her home and her heart to him.
So V is celebrating 80 years of a wonderful life — a life of sharing, welcoming, giving, leading, and loving. My eight years feel small compared to this, but I’m so happy our milestones coincide. Virginia is one of many who helped shine a light on my path, as she has for countless others. Happy milestone, V!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.