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My View: Please share a 'happy thought' with Reynolds students, staff

I’m Nana to Jesse Martin, who attends Reynolds High School in Troutdale. Nothing prepares you as a nana to get the call I received on the morning of June 10.

The call went like this:

“Mom, have you heard the news?”

“What news?” I replied. The caller was silent.

“What news?” I repeated to my daughter.

“There is an active shooter in Jesse’s school ... pray Mom, pray!”

My daughter hung up the phone. I fell on my knees in the middle of the living room, in front of my 90-year-old mother, who asked, “What’s happening?”

I told her, and we both prayed.

After a time, we turned on the TV and saw a scenario that we’ve seen before. Police everywhere; kids running and crying, but there was one very big difference. This time the images were of my neighbors, my community and our kids. Time passed and we waited to hear the news. It came — two sons were lost; Jesse was OK.

I couldn’t go to the parking lot where students were being taken to reunite with parents. Jesse’s mom and dad were doing that. Finally, his mom and dad brought him home, and Jesse, a junior, who doesn’t usually like hugs from Nana or great grandma, allowed us to hug him and love him. This time it was OK.

Three days later, Jesse’s parents took him back to the school to pick up his things. Again, I didn’t go; the staff and volunteer counselors were helping. Days went by and those feelings of loss lingered, but there was something even worse than the feeling of loss that just wouldn’t go away — it was the feeling of helplessness. I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything to help my grandson or my community that I love so very much.

I went to a candlelight service at the school and held up a candle with my grandson and family. Yet it wasn’t enough. The nagging feeling of helplessness was still there, and I couldn’t shake it. It was devastating to be a nana who couldn’t “do something.”

Then, while driving to the grocery store, I passed

Reynolds High School and a memory came rushing back to me.

For 10 years I worked at a skilled nursing facility. During this time, my husband would quote a line from the movie “Hook.” He would say to me as he left for work, “Don’t forget, happy thoughts make you fly!” He would say that to me because there were days I would experience great loss and mourning. Some days it was the loss of a dear resident or a resident’s loss of lifestyle due to health issues.

One day, as I was trying to come up with a new idea for an activity for the residents, I remembered my husband’s words, “Happy thoughts make you fly!” I sat down at my computer and pulled out a stack of brightly colored paper and started printing out happy thoughts. Fishing, swimming, tennis, bowling, walking, singing, dancing, and the list went on. I took my happy thoughts down to the small dining room and started hanging them on the walls.

Soon, the staff started asking, “What this?”

I answered, “They’re my happy thoughts!”

Instantly, my colleagues began to tell me that I forgot water skiing, jogging, motorcycling, and their list of additions continued. I went back to my office and printed their ideas.

I hung up the new happy thoughts. Then the residents started coming by in their walkers and wheelchairs. I told them about our happy thoughts. Then they added grandbabies, children, square dancing, old cars, bicycles, friends, family, laughter, stars, camping, and the list went on.

Suddenly, I had happy thoughts on all four walls from top to bottom and all over the ceiling — there wasn’t an empty spot left. I put a sign over the door — THE HAPPY THOUGHTS CAFÉ.

On the side of the door I put another “Welcome to the Happy Thoughts Café. If you do not have a happy thought, please take one!”

I went to the front desk to get the mail. I was gone only for a few minutes when someone came up shouting, “Susan, come look and see what has happened!”

I came back to the dining room and saw wheelchairs and staff lined up all the way down the hall waiting to get into the Happy Thoughts Café.

There was no sense of loss this day.

Often I say to myself, “Who am I, Lord? Who am I, and what do I have to share?”

Recently it has become crystal clear — I am Jesse Martin’s Nana. That’s my first happy thought. I am a nana who loves with a passion and has hope for our school and community.

So, with that thought, I will no longer feel helpless because I can and will do something for my grandson and all the students and staff at Reynolds High School. I will send a postcard with a happy thought on it and I will ask others to do the same.

Susan Bowker is a Troutdale resident.


My goals:

To ask as many people as I can to send a “Happy Thought Postcard” to the students and staff at Reynolds High School for their first day back at school. Just a simple sincere word or two that will encourage those who read it.

By purchasing a postcard, a stamp, putting a happy thought on it and putting it in the mail we all will have done something for our kids, grandkids, school staff and community. I think they should start the new school year with hope and uplifting thoughts from people who care about them.

Send your cards to:

HOPE

P.O. Box 9,

Troutdale 97060.

• Sept. 4, at 7:30 a.m., will be the first day for the freshmen, and I’ll be standing in front of the school to wave the staff and students in. It’s my hope that the grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, moms, dads and our community will stand by my side. Sept. 5, 7:30 a.m., will be the first day of school for the rest of the students and staff. I will be out front again to wave them in. Please join me. If you come to the school, please park and walk. Don’t park in the school lot or in the Imagination Station lot. Please be considerate of the neighborhood as well.

If you have a business where the school buses come by in the mornings, stand outside or have some of your staff stand outside on Sept. 4 and 5 so the students can see you. Please have a sign that says something like: Reynolds Strong; Have a Great Day, Raiders; We Are With You; We Send You Joy; We Send You Laughter and Friendship.