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Andrea L. Chapman
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Life's Choices
Life's Choices

Jerome Johnson had an outgoing personality, the type of guy who lit up a room when he entered. He had decided, as a young boy, that life is what you make it. His positive outlook about everything irritated many people. Some remarked, "Nobody could be that cheerful all of the time. I think I will do something to make him angry, then we'll see the real Jerome. They did, but Jerome always stood the test and would say, "Well, It could have been worse."

Jerome was a high school teacher and had seen students come and go--some were very nice, some troubled, and others very mean. He loved them all. Most of the students loved him because they knew he had their best interest in mind, even though they did not always agree with him. He would tell his students, "Be the best you can be and think about others before you think about yourself, and 'think before you speak or act." Some students thought he was strange, but most thought he was special, and because of that they wanted to be a teacher just like him.

Every week one of his students would ask, "How can you see the bright side of everything? You don't know my family." Then Jerome would say, "You are right, I don't know your family, but you can start your day by deciding what your attitude will be for that day. Then you make a decision about what would be in the best interest of your situation. My life has not been a bed of roses. There were many thorns. I choose to accept the roses with the thorns, and no matter what my situation, I must have a positive attitude. There is something we all can learn from each situation."  Sometimes, he would tell the story of his daughter's death, with tears in his eyes.

"I was very anger with everybody, the doctor, nurses, family members, God, and then me. Life will have pain, so after much prayer and professional help, I started thinking positive again. Remember, I say, you have to decide what's the best thing you can do about your situation."

Then one of the students would ask, "What positive thing could come from your daughter's death?" Jerome would say, "I've learned to be more sensitive to people who are hurting. I wasn't always. I've learned to listen when people are talking. Blaming people is not the answer. And I've learned that time heals, if you let it. Then he would than say, "You do know life is about choices, and you are the one who will make those choices."

However, some of his students came from violent homes. They didn't always think before they acted. As time would have it, two of them, Bob and Joe, decided school was not a place for them. They would show Mr. Johnson there is no bright side to life.

They decided to wait for him one day after school by his car. They knew he always stayed late helping other students. As Jerome approached his car, he saw them and greeted him with a big smile and "Hello." Then he saw in their eyes that something was wrong.

"Hello Mr. Positive, see if you can get something positive out of this," they said angrily, and beat him unmercifully with a bat. A student heard the commotion, and called for help. Bob and Joe ran. The emergency medical service came very quickly and rushed Jerome to the hospital.

In the emergency room Jerome could see from the doctor's face that things weren't going well. He thought to himself If I don't think of something, I may not make it. He looked at the doctors and nurse and asked, "Am I gong to die?" They look at each other saying nothing. Then Jerome, said, "Well, since I'm going to die, can you cut my stomach open and stuff all my favorite foods so I can have a good bowel movement?" The staff erupted with laughter. "Now!" said Jerome, "start sewing up my body parts so I won't be late for school tomorrow." This changed the somber attitude of the doctors and nurses. Because Jerome had a strong will to live, he made it.

The students were excited when Mr. Johnson finally returned to school. They call it Mr. Johnson Day. They couldn't wait to hear the positive side to his crisis. He cleared his throat and said "I have learned several things, a baseball bat hurts," (the students laughed), "have my keys in my hand before I leave school, and not all you students like me," he smiled. But on a positive note I've learned that unforgiving holds you in prison, so I choose to love and forgive the students that hurt me. I learn that life is wonderful everyday.

We live our life by the choices we make. Everything we do affects someone besides ourselves. Your choices can either harm or help others. It can make people sad or happy. Students, choose to have the right attitude."

Andrea L. Chapman

Chapman Cares, Inc.

407 Taurus Drive

Ft. Washington, MD 20744

Phone: 301-449-1181


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