Friday, August 21, 2009

Great Expectations...A Testimonial

Jennifer King Payne graduated from high school in 1991. She's now a firefighter/paramedic/health and safety officer in Virginia. With her permission, I've reprinted her message to me on Facebook:

I checked out the Classic Coup website and wanted you to know it's brilliant and has reminded me of why it's important that my children get excited about the classics. I will be using the site to buy teacher's gifts and encourage them to go to the site as well.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for being a total inspiration to me in high school. You taught me to think outside of the box and to develop a real love for reading, writing and the arts in general. Unfortunately, that love didn't surface until long after I graduated. Still, I knew that you were the one that planted that seed.

Back then, I turned in sub-standard work and thoughtless projects. I was the hot mess with no drive and no parental support. It's difficult to look back at times in your life that were so painful, where you make horrible decisions that leave a path of destruction a mile ride. As I reviewed your website, I remembered the love for those books and characters that you taught us to embrace. I was amazed how I was instantly taken back to my Junior and Senior year, where you were able to bring those literary collections to life and taught us to compare them to present day works of art.

On my trip down memory lane, I found that I identify with the characters of Great Expectations. In high school, I was two characters, young Pip and Miss Havisham. As young Pip, I was ashamed of where I came from and longed to be someone else. At the same time, I was Miss Havisham, as I fell for the man who everyone warned me about, only be left in shambles, memorializing that moment which only left me bitter and unable to move past my own agony.

At 20, I was Estella, having a man like Pip love me only to marry Bentley Drummle, where I resigned myself to a life of misery with someone as miserable as I was.

As luck would have it, at 26, a reformed Miss Havisham appeared, bitter-free. I had let go of the past and came to grips with the pain that was caused, not just to other people but to myself. She saved my internal Estella. No, Bentley Drummle didn't physically die in my story, but he did make an official exit from my life and waiting for me was Pip.

Though I was an uninspired kid full of shame and regret, I have certainly grown into an adult full of great expectations to instill into my own children. Thank you for reminding me how to do that and for teaching me to embrace the classics to begin with.

The classics not only connect to our individual lives. They connect us to each other as parents and children discuss books beloved by all ages.

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