Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE VALENTINE ROCK
“There will be a Valentines Day party on Thursday,” said Mrs. Horner.
I dreaded hearing the words as I sat there, quietly staring at my fourth grade teacher.
I believe it was sometime in 1955 when I first realized that my life had nothing to offer anyone. Every year the other kids would bring cut-out valentines, each 0ne housed in a small, white envelope. I would sit at my desk embarrassed and ashamed.
I remember getting out of bed on Valentines Day and standing in line with the other orphans kids. We were waiting to be given the signal to start marching, two abreast, to the dinning-room which was located on the other side of the orphanage grounds.
As I ate my breakfast of oatmeal and toast I sat there wondering what I could give this one girl in my classroom. There were very few kids at school who did not make fun of we children from the Children's Home Society Orphanage. This one girl in my class seemed to be different from all the others. There seemed to be a kindness, and understanding, about her.
After returning to the dormitory I dressed for school. I walked over to my locker and opened the door. Inside sat a large rock which I had found while digging a hole in the ground to make an army fort. There was nothing very special about the rock, except that I knew it was all mine, and mine alone. It was the only thing that I had at the orphanage that belonged to me.
Carefully I picked up the large rock and I carried it into the bathroom. I placed the rock into the shower stall and I turned on the water. I took the soap-sock and I began to wash the rock until it was perfectly clean. After drying the precious gem I took it out back of the dormitory and I hid it in the azalea bushes until it was time for us to march to school.
The school was located right next door to the orphanage. I carried the large rock to school. All the while running the gamut of bullies mocking me. Not to mention many of the other children laughing. Nevertheless, with my head down I made my way to Mrs. Horner's classroom.
"I would like for you to have this here rock and be my Valentine," I told Georgia.
I remember the expression on her face as I handed her the large rock. She smiled and said "thank you, Roger.
It was not so much that that rock was so important. What was important was the fact that Georgia had given me a feeling that would last my entire lifetime. It was a feeling that someone, somewhere, cared about me. In return for that rock she gave me something invisible that no one could ever take away fro me. That feeling was one of the building blocks upon which Roger Dean Kiser would one day build a life for himself.
The following is a letter I received today, forty years later, from that wonderful girl.
Thanks a bunch for the book, the CD and the fast reply on my letter.
Even though I had already read most of your web site, I'm reading the book and am about half way.
It's amazing the things I can remember when reading your book. I remember how everyone made fun and picked on the "orphan kids". I remember how bad I felt that I couldn't have Judy come to my house to play and I wasn't allowed to go to hers. I do remember going to the home one afternoon with her. I don't remember why and I know I didn't stay long. I also remember how it didn't matter what happened, the answer was always "the orphan kids did it".
Now for more personal memory. I remember that you brought me a rock to school one Valentines Day. I don't know then why you brought it, but I know I carried it home. You only had to carry it next door to school, I had to carry it about 2 miles home and it was a BIG rock. When I got home, my mom asked why I had that rock and I told her that Roger Kaiser gave it to me. She said "why?" I told her I didn't know but that you were my friend from the home. She said "Oh, he gave you all he had". It's important to note here that my mom was raised in an orphanage too, so she probably knew what she was talking about.
That rock was one of the reasons that I've thought of you so often over the years, as we kept that rock at my mom's and used it for a door stop (it was a good size rock) and believe it or not we just sold it when my mom passed away in her estate sale 9 years ago.
One of the highlights for me reading your book and your web site, is realizing why my mother was the way she was. My sister and I could never understand how someone could go through their whole life without telling their children that they love them or showing any kind of affection.
Your memories of what you were not taught in the home opened my eyes to see, my mother never learned those things either. My husband and kids never have to wonder if they're loved, they hear it all day.
I'd be interested to see the picture you have of Mrs. Horner's class. I know I have mine around here some where, but only the Lord knows where it is. We were in Mrs. Horner's class at the same time and I think I can probably tell who some of the kids are and I know for certain which one is you.
Ok, it's time for me to go for now and get ready for another week.
Please make note of my email address: email@example.com
Take care and I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you Georgia for being my Valentine.