My name is James Goddard. I wish to tell you a story. My wife Elizabeth “Liz” is a Psychologist at one of the way too many, Mental Health Care Clinics in the state. She specializes in teenagers. This is the last hope or last chance for these young ones. These are not the violent ones. They are the withdrawn ones that have dug in deep inside their minds. They bury their heads deep which is the only way they know to survive. Blocking out all life, good or bad; there lies no feelings.
Liz simply has the word “HOPE” on her door. She adorns her office with pictures that simply imply hope. She strives for one spark one flicker of such to build on for each client. She refuses to use the word patient; each person is an individual not a number, a unique individual that must be recognized as such. Liz has found these unwanted ones have been treated as objects; loved less by parents than material objects. These children, even if they have two parents do not find themselves lucky because they are unwanted by both. So as Liz represents their last hope, she never gives up on them. She is their last and only shot at life. She must give them a glimmer of the much needed “hope.”
These are castoffs, ravaged by divorce, alcohol, drugs, mental disorders caused from family problems of yester year, or today’s world of “I don’t care about anyone, except myself.” Liz believes foremost, the core problem is that the lack of attention, family values and upbringing has eroded as each new generation develops. You must have these building blocks as babies, toddlers and young children to succeed in the world, without them they have no way to cope let alone attempt to survive. Without “proper” guidance, even with a semi-solid foundation, it becomes too easy to veer off course. Leading to mistakes multiplied many times over.
So you can now appreciate the odds are stacked against Liz before she meets one child. Still she greets each day as a new beginning no matter how low her head is hanging the night before. No matter how tired she is when she drags herself in the door, she has a ritual. She starts with a relaxing bath, a glass of wine, unwinding to music and then becomes my wife. For without separation of work and family she could not carry on. She understands she must have her time, her family in order to be the “Rock of Gibraltar” for the not as fortunate children with the “lost spirit and souls.”
Our children are grown and Liz wishes to make our home as a halfway house for young adults. I resist that idea because I firmly believe that there must be a separation of work and family. Liz would work 24 hours a day. I know her better than she knows herself. She would burn herself out and be unable to help anyone. I must refuse for her sake.
Liz has helped many unfortunate ones in her career. Many have gone on to college. Without her intervention many were prone to an early exit of life most probably. She stays in touch with all, through e-mails, lunches, holidays.
We bring 3 different young adults home every Sunday for dinner to enjoy our home and family. They help with preparing dinner and the cleanup. Many hold fast to that indifferent attitude yet pitch in to help.
After an early retirement, I become hooked as her passion now consumes me. The feeling that you can make a difference is rewarding beyond comprehension. The giving of one’s time and love makes a difference in ones direction. We now are bringing them home for the weekend. The newly found joy in these searching for normalcy gives hope. We receive an outpouring of support from former success stories as they lend a hand to help these people grow and to inspire them. We soon open our doors full time not as a transition house but a house of hope for those soon to be released. The once castoffs have learned to value themselves and grow through love and understanding, young adults must be taught to feel love in order to give love.
One young man has always held a soft spot in our hearts. John Jacob Jamison. Deeply sad looking yet underlying there is a brilliance overlooked until Liz. His shell so thick he refused to allow anyone in, adults that is. Around others his age and younger he shows compassion and understanding well beyond his age. When adults enter the picture he recedes once again. Liz is convinced he has never had an adult that he could truly count on in his life. It was never a question of intelligence. His I. Q. is above average. He could not relax around adults.
Liz brings him home for weekend visits. The same thing happens here, helpful with the other young ones. However when we are around he retreats into his world. He has never known love from adults, so he cannot give or respond. Children on the other hand he understands. We observe and try to understand. We discuss putting our arms around him and hugging the fear out of him.
In today’s world of hands off, we restrain. One day after witnessing John counsel younger children after a disagreement. He advises them to hug each other to harbor no grudges. They respond to that and walk away feeling good about themselves and each other. John walks right by me I stand in his way and give him the biggest and warm heart filled bear hug. I was not going to turn him loose if he fought. He never fought, we cry as one and Liz witnessing got into the act. All 3 overjoyed and cry for the same reason. We sit at the table where I pour us each a glass of milk and slice us a piece of apple pie. We celebrate singing inside. Truly amazing what a hug of love can accomplish.John has gone on to work just as Liz, helping children to deal with problems beyond their understanding. Raised by insecure children that should never have children, a vicious cycle spiraling out of control. Thanks to those than truly care, some are saved.