Apparently, one of the side-effects of being shot is the ability to judge children's photographs. At least that's what Linda Solomon tried to sell me when we spoke last February.
It's as odd to me now as it was then. Yet, somehow, without my quite knowing exactly what was happening as it was happening, I found myself agreeing to meet her at an elementary school the following Tuesday afternoon. This is a woman to whom it is impossible to say "No."
Getting there was no mean feat. It required a driver on each end, prophyllactic pain control, dressing comfortably yet tv-apropriately, and finding footwear that would support but not burden me. It required rearranging my nap schedule (do not laugh - naps are very healing) and insuring that someone would be home to accept our daily dinner donation. I had to gather strength to hop with my walker all the way from the parking lot through through the front lobby and into the first conference room on the right. At the time, that was an excursion requiring a nap in and of itself.
(Note to self re: healing plan - congratulate yourself on the fact that you can now circumnavigate the perimiter of the school, in the dark, without an assistive device, as proven while trying to leave after the Winter Fiesta last week.)
That story has already been told. The photographs were made into greeting cards, the kids went on to other adventures, and Linda and I have kept in touch. She flies in for a week or a weekend and sometimes there's a chance for lunch or dinner and one day I know we'll get to meet her husband, too.
She loves Tucson as much as we do, and she's doing something about it. Last month she was back in town doing a similar project for New Beginnings for Women and Children and last night she was smiling out of the tv at me, surrounded by grinning children.
And then there was the girl who took a picture of the University of California at San Diego, captioning it with her hope to go to college. Linda got it in front of the campus's president and he was so touched, and she is so special, that the photographer has been guaranteed a 4-year scholarship to UCSD when she's old enough to attend.
That only happened because of Linda Solomon.
The next time someone tells you that one person cannot make a big difference, send them here to read this.
She gave an otherwise unattainable treasure to a young person. The ripple effects make me shiver to consider. The college president can feel good about himself and his school. The mother's delight as she hugged her daughter while murmuring "You can go to college. You are going to college," is an image I'll hold onto for a long long time. That student will carry with her the knowledge that someone thought she was worthy. And I can bask in the glow of knowing someone special.
That would be Linda Solomon. She is my hero.