"LESSONS LEARNED ON MY WAY HOME"
GLORIA LEWIS VAUGHN
It was a beautiful day, 12-16-54, the day Gloria Lewis Vaughn was born. Little inquisitive Gloria met God as she turned six, while looking up at the heavens to ask her new friend, “What’s up there?” I knew immediately that I wanted to embrace “Lessons Learned on My Way Home.” The story and life of Gloria delves backwards in time to Ms. Hammer’s class. I am already reminded of my favorite story, “Friends” by renowned author, Rosa Guy, who I met just over a month ago. I just love classroom scenes. However, this was no ordinary school day as the scornful, wretched and tormenting Ms. Hammer instructs the students to return to school with an essay about a childhood hero.
Remember when you had to select your favorite hero for a school essay? How did I know that Gloria would connect with a singer, Otis Redding, by listening to the lyrics of "Dock of the Bay" that played on the record player a day before? You are now entranced by this book. Memories awaken your senses as Gloria reminisces over the words, "sittin' on the dock of the bay wastin' time," but time is not wasted as Gloria anticipates being called on by Ms. Hammer to read her essay.
After all of that practicing for a presentation, the teacher overlooks her like so many Black youth who enter the school system of a few teachers without hearts who shun talent for never possessing any talent of their own. A classic “Teacher Dearest.” I connect immediately with the words of this skillful writer who has a story to tell.
After Gloria’s introduction of her essay’s title, "Otis Redding, the King of Soul," Ms. Hammer interjects, “Elvis Presley is the king.” I can sense Gloria’s lips trembling with confusion at her first dose of implied racism. She is hardly sensitive. The facts are evident. Gloria’s feelings are real. The situation gets worse when Ms. Hammer shreds her work to pieces. How could any teacher feel threatened by the ambition of a ten year old? We were all there once. Gloria takes the reader back to one’s emotions and memories that may seem minute but marked Gloria during her development.
Fortunately, Gloria is loved by her family, the Lewis’s. They are the kind of family who you want to visit, and know. Gloria is on her way to growing up; she is ready for life’s challenges.
So what went wrong and how did it all go wrong? What happened to Gloria? How did this beautiful aspiring child with such a lovely family become a drug addict, near death, and almost destroy her entire life? Her story is so painful; you will shed tears. What is so sad is, even though Gloria is a successful, recovered drug addict today, it seems she could not face the episodes that brought her to the point of active addiction, a classic denial phase of even most recovering addicts. The reader is immediately taken to the detox stage of Gloria’s bouts with recovering from drug addiction.
Gloria does something even more miraculous and with disregard for the reader who wants to hear about the men who tricked her into thinking that drugs were her friend, she takes us straight to her home with God. She shares her prayers and blessings. How did Gloria do it? The answer is clear. Read Gloria’s “Lessons Learned on My Way Home” and discover why this book will have you strip down to your bare naked soul literally and have a talk with God. There is some real cleansing here and high schools or universities who want to keep young adults on the right track, should order in bulk quantities. “Lessons Learned on My Way Home” is one of the best self- healing books of the year for those who want to be inspired spiritually. Ms. Vaughn is on her way to becoming one of the most renowned writers of the century. Captivating, and SOUL truthful.
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