Jeff’s Story

I wish I was a guy with a story. But I can’t really tell a story without telling a story, so here goes.

 

I think, as with many things in my life, I do what I do because I’m fortunate. I’m truly blessed. When I was younger, I never really had a plan, but somehow seemed to find myself in the most wonderful of circumstances. For example, at the age of 12, I stumbled upon these volumes of books. The backstory is that I grew up with an overprotective mother. I wasn’t allowed to play with the other kids, go camping, take part in sleepovers or be a Boy Scout. I had to get rid of my pent-up energy somehow. (Some of my methods were more embarrassing than others – like practicing karate without ever having had a single class in my life. I remember thinking “I’m Asian. It’s gotta be in my blood.”) Fortunately for me, every summer my mother would take me and my sister to the library (It’s a physical internet for those of you that have never stepped into one.  They have purple dragons! You need to check it out!) My sister and I would compete on who read the most books or better books or something. Usually the bet would fizzle out by the third visit to the library, but we enjoyed going anyhow.

In the summer between my 6th and 7th-grade years, my sister gleefully announced that she would be picking “The Little House on the Prairie” series. She had read “Little Women” the summer before and was therefore well experienced in the ways of reading a serial novel. My sister was disciplined and read her books like clockwork. I, on the other hand, had bounced between sharks, dinosaurs, and the life of Harry Houdini. I was always looking for something different. This particular summer, I wandered into the “adult section”. (Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s “adult” as opposed to children or young adults.) I had read some of my father’s books and figured that anything like it was considered “adult”. What I didn’t know was that these were his college textbooks. I just knew they were special. I was enamored by the weight and the smell of the paper. The books were heavier and seemed so different from the ones they gave us in elementary school. These simple sensations caused me to peruse the inviting pages and chapters. I felt like a spy learning things that no one else in my class knew. In the library, I had hoped to find a book with the same feel and smell as one of my father’s books.

I found a set. Seven volumes. It was on the fourth shelf up from the floor, towards the beginning of the bookshelf. The binding spine was a thick black. Each volume was easily at least two inches thick. The front cover was a clear see-through plastic. The back was black and made of a cardboard-like material. Beneath the clear plastic was an Army Green title page that said something like “The Study of Mathematics”. When I turned the title page, I saw what it was. It was a book that taught math. The top of the first page showed the picture of a single pencil and the number 1 next to it. It progressed in number until it reached ten pencils at the bottom. Each successive page was about determining how many pencils were in the picture. Really? This was going to be epic! Awesome! It was going to be so easy! At the end of the summer, I would have bragging rights on reading adult books, seven volumes and each volume was HUGE!! 

 

Because of the author’s easy teaching style, it was simple to go through all the volumes. No concept was any more difficult than that first page. I had a blast! By the end of the summer, at the age of twelve, I completed all seven volumes. I had fun. It wouldn’t be until quite a number of years later that I would learn that on that summer I had taught myself Differential Calculus.

 

I lived most of my younger years by the seat of my pants with no real plan. I knew what I didn’t want, but I was never sure about what I wanted. My sister was different. 

 

My sister was a rock. Always stable. Always focused. Her compass pointed in one direction and it was a true direction. She was close to her religion and her worst swear words were words like “gosh, darn it”. No matter how far I strayed from the fold, she was always there. There are pictures through time (some physical, others memories) where she held my hand and was the rock for me. She would quiet my storm. She was an angel in human form.

 

Anabel’s Angels is about my personal relationship with my sister. It is this personal relationship which helps to guide and stir the spirit of this organization. It’s in how we treat others, bring joy and laughter and how we endeavor to lift spirits regardless of the odds.

 

It is therefore not directly of me nor my sister, but of the relationships developed, the paths to fostering those relationships and the results of our actions that make Anabel’s Angels the organization it is and is to become.