Dear Mrs. Bluth,
About fifteen years ago, I wrote to you in anguish. I was thirteen and a victim of my parents’ animosity and divorce. Your kindness and support was the lifeline that shaped the woman I am today. I continue to read your column and appreciate the advice you give in many situations.
After having read recently that you get very little positive feedback from letter-writers, I decided to be the one to change that.
Fifteen years ago, as a young girl living in a war zone consisting of two battling parents and three terrified younger brother and sisters, I had nowhere to turn. My parents always fought and I took it upon myself to protect the other children. My mother was too busy holding pity-parties on the phone with her friends to make dinner, so it fell to me to make sure we had what to eat. The physical wars picked up momentum when my father would come home and find my makeshift supper unappealing and often cold. To this day I find it hard to describe the yelling, screaming and flying projectiles.
I would herd the younger kids either into a closet or the basement until we heard the door slam indicating that one or the other had stormed out of the house. At that point, I got the kids ready for bed, laid out their clothes for the next day and prepared lunches. There was often very little or no time at all for me to do homework or study, much less to spend with friends. I would find myself dozing during class and at recess and sometimes I even ended up in the principal’s office. It was during one of those stays that I came across your column and reached out to you. At your suggestion, I confided in my principal about the goings on in my home and the reason for my grades falling off and she took me under her wing. I found out later that you had taken the initiative to call her and prepare the way for me.
To make a long story short, my parents divorced two years later, which in and of itself was a horrible experience for us. The younger ones were shuttled between mother and father, but I was allowed to go and live with my grandparents – at sixteen years of age the judge respected my need to apply myself to my schoolwork in peace. I would visit with my younger siblings as often as I liked and we kept close. As peace entered my life, my grades picked up. I graduated with respectable marks and with the high recommendations of my principal, my teachers and others, I got into a good college, graduated at the top of my class and went on to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology. During all those years you were always there for me, supporting, encouraging and dispensing hope when doubt threatened to pull down my dreams, and to cheer me on. I will be eternally grateful to Hashem that He made our paths cross in my darkest hours.
Upon my graduation, you sent me a lovely gift, a crystal eagle, with its wings outstretched and clutching the globe in its claw, which now sits on my office desk. The enclosed note touched my soul and still resonates with me. I had it framed and it hangs just behind my desk so that my clients can benefit from your words of wisdom. And when I am in doubt, I look behind me and hear your voice say “When the earth threatens to pull you down and keep you there, spread your wings and rise above it and you will soar to heights you have only dreamed of!” And I have.
Today I help people with every kind of problem, thanks in great part to you and The Jewish Press that affords the needy a place to find their lifeline. So, here’s my happy ending letter and the claim that dreams do come true with hard work, perseverance and the help of a “fairy grandmother.”
How wonderful of you to share your original story and the follow-up. It brought tears to my eyes as I relived your situation back then and simultaneously, great joy at the heights to which you have risen. Don’t ever fold those wings, just keep soaring upward; the successes are endless and the satisfaction, most gratifying. It is letters such as yours that give my own wings strength to fly higher and simchas hanefesh at the successes I enjoy through those who have pulled themselves up from the ground of their misfortunes and soared to the heights of their potential.