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The Sea Drifters

Today I spent a lot of time thinking.  My thoughts were about you, for the most part.  Today we set sail to raise money for the ACS with the sale of the Sea Drifters.  I thought about how we will be out every night in June working hard to calm the turbulent seas in the life of cancer patients a dollar at a time.  What a great cause, yet no amount of money can ever bring back the lost treasures we have already lost in the shipwreck caused by cancer.  I know of a great treasure now lost at sea due to cancer, as told in the story of THE SEA DRIFTERS!

She was a remarkable lady in her day, a mom and special education teacher when special education was still experimental.  It was the start of a new school year when she spotted him for the first time.  He was mean, angry and hateful as he stormed down the hallway showing his disregard for everyone in his path.  She knew by his actions that he must belong in her class, so she asked him his name.  He paused long enough to make a rude hand gesture and spew out a few words of hate then went on his way.  Most teachers would have thanked God that he was not in her class and left well enough alone. Not Mrs. Trenholme, she found out his name and fought to have him placed in her class.

He had an unhappy home life and was feared by most teachers.  The violent storms in his every day life had made him cold and hard.  His life was like a SEA URCHIN being battered against a rocky shore line only existing till the rough waves smashed him to his death. Yet Mrs. Trenholme could see hope for him if she could show him his potential.  Many months passed as she kept reaching out to rescue him.  Just as she thought she could reach him, a swift wave would wash him back out to sea and out of her reach.  A few times she could feel her fingers brush against his course exterior just as he was whisked away.

One day it happened!  She had fought long enough to capture the SEA URCHIN and earn his respect.  He had 14 years of hate and anger to overcome, so she knew it was just a start.  Mrs. Trenholme stuck with him even when he would slip back into his old ways.  He went from calling her " Chicky Baby" in a rude way to a loving "Chicky" . She helped him get his first job and drove him to her family dentist twice a week to repair the damages of years of neglect. Over time he grew to love her like no other.  She set high goals and standards for him and he always met the challenge!

The time came when all her hard work made it impossible for him to live with his family, who had not changed. He chose to quit school and join the navy. This broke Chicky's heart! She knew that he needed to finish school, yet; he needed to move on as well. Chicky gave him her blessings and hoped that he would keep in touch.

The navy turned out to be a good choice for him as he became independent.   Every month near the full of the moon he would call Chicky at home and they would talk for hours.  They found great comfort in knowing that what ever part of the world he was in they were connected by the ocean.  He would always think of her as he touched the cold waters.  Was this a drop of water that she had once touched?   Among the many gifts he sent her was a huge STARFISH that she loved.

When his enlistment ended, the navy left him many miles away from her. Yet he never stopped calling her.  He also never moved back home as he felt that nothing but pain awaited him.  It came as no surprise to her when he fell in love with a special education teacher for a life partner.  She asked them to come up for a visit that summer.  He was overjoyed at the invitation, and they went.

She tried several times to tell him that she was dying from cancer but couldn't. His life had been hell enough. The last night of the visit she sat alone with his partner. She told of her sickness and asked for a promise from teacher to teacher that her dying wish would be fulfilled. She wished that after her passing, her beloved student would finish high school and go to college one day. It was agreed. She was happy to see that he had someone to love him when she was gone. She told the many stories of what they went through to get to that point in life. All the tears and all the joys. Chicky wanted the news of her poor health told when he was home.

The next 3 months the joy filled phone calls went on as always. On the 4th month the call was cut short, as a sharp pain sent Chicky to the hospital. He called a few times the next few days and got no answer. Figuring that Chicky was enjoying her early retirement, he made plans to call
the next month.

A turbulent time was ahead as cancer had claimed another victim the night of the last call.  Chicky was gone forever and no one in her family knew how to reach her student. With great pain he lives on and fulfilled Chickey's wishes.

How could cancer kill a woman that made helping troubled children her life? She turned a monster full of hate into a loving and caring person, yet never lived to see him at his best. Cancer kills some and spares some, we just never know who!

The SEA URCHIN reclaimed the STARFISH one day and tossed it back out to sea. Now it has washed ashore once more with a chance to help others with cancer.  Keep in mind the goodness of Mrs. Trenholme and the tragic loss this month as you hold your parties. Sell the Sea Drifters in June not for the money you will make, but for the people you will be helping that are about to enter the turbulent waters of living with cancer.   Maybe we will raise the dollar that finds the key to keeping our treasures with us so that no others will be lost.  We can never bring back what we have lost, however; with our memories of them and your hard work, we can calm the rough seas!

God bless you all for your hard work, Hank

This page last updated July 06, 2005