I contacted Bassick High School and they named a few kids, including Chitunga Mpepo, who I picked up and brought to campus. He wouldn't come with me, however, unless he could bring some of his friends (I said sure. It cost me dinner at Panera for his crew).
Soon after, he enrolled in my English course, we bonded some more, I taught him to drive, I continued to mentor him, and the next thing I knew he moved in - he needed a home, a father, a supporter, an advocate, and a friend. When this photograph was taken, who would have thought that everything would evolve as it did and he'd join the Crandall world and what it is.
I am thinking about this because I am away from Connecticut and I hate that I'm not there for him this week. Still, he's a man, and taking care of his own. He is protecting the house, minding the dog, figuring out what needs to happen, and accomplishing his world of integrity as I knew he would.
I'll never forget when he came by to show me that he cut off his dreads. He was wearing a hat and didn't want to show too many (it was his decision to do the day after he graduated - to remove his signature locks. We share that, as I've grown my hair several times only to cut it). Now, Mr. Clean Cut is also Mr. Classy, better groomed than I will ever be.
I have one more day in Texas and I leave Wednesday afternoon for home so I can be with the kid...just to check on him. We'll go back to our routine rather quickly, but I know one thing for sure: step one is to hug him as my sister taught us to do.
He's strong....an Eagle...and that's why I love and support his world. Even so, he's young and some 'new learning' is best to experience with family around.