Friday, February 5, 2010

Valerie Orrock Remembers Zelda

When I met Zelda, it was because she had agreed to come to Seattle to work with kids interested in drama or storytelling at a summer arts camp that I coordinated. We hit it off right away. Before she arrived I was explaining the program and the kids it served. She agreed to be an honored master artist at two sessions. At some point in a phone conversation she asked about the student ages. When I explained the students in the second two weeks were middle school age, she got very quiet. "Oh", she said hesitantly. She explained that she had had a bad experience with children that age and found them in which they were cruel. She was not sure about working with them again. Before I could suggest an solution or alternative, she reversed her reaction and declared that she would do it. She explained that this was an excellent opportunity for her to face her fears. She said that what could they do now, she's older and they are lucky to be at the camp. "Besides, its a camp of artists. We're all artists."

I love this story because it shows Zelda's humanity. Her great capacity to care for others and her willingness at any age to learn and grow. These qualities endeared her to me and ten years later we were still phone buddies always checking in, me with my Jewish Grandmother and she with her Portuguese Granddaughter as she used to say. I will miss those phone calls, I already do. But I feel blessed that my life was touched by her and that I was able to witness her touch the lives of those kids who in the end, thought she was very cool.

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