NPR Story Corps elicits the same reaction in me as an interviewee of Barbara Walters – I usually get misty. This story was no different. Here’s a bit from the website:
“Joe Buford, 63, has a high school diploma but kept a secret, even from his family: He couldn’t read.
“I could memorize things,” he says. “I call it drawing the words …. Nobody in my family really knew how bad it was with me and how hurt I was over it.”
Buford’s wife didn’t know about his reading problem until after they were married, he says.”
He goes on..
“Before Buford had children, he worried that “what was wrong with me would be passed on to my kids.” He was afraid they wouldn’t learn to read. “It just broke my heart,” he says.
He was terrified of the prospect of having to read to his young daughters. “
It never fails to amaze me how far people can get on such little education. This gentleman has gone through the education, medical, and tax systems not knowing how to read. He’s raised a family, held a job and gone through every day life with an over arching fear and shame that was finally lifted in his mid-60’s.
Definitely a testament to the “never too late” approach to self development, but also inspiring from a community perspective. Here was a volunteer who spent time with him, helped him learn, in an environment that was safe – in this case an adult literacy center in Nashville.
“I jumped up and ran through the house. It made me cry and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, it really is sinking in.'”
That is exactly how I felt (sans crying) when I first learned to read. So excited, so enthusiastic about learning – on my way to being a student of life and those around me.
To read more or listen to the program, click here.