Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Gift of the Word

{When I sat down to write this, I intended to just list George Dawson's story as one of my things to be happy about, but I got a little carried away with researching and retelling his story... Plus, he deserves his own post. I'll finish up this week's list of happy things at some point this weekend.}

 Ok, so I was watching Oprah today; that is not, however, what I want to talk about because she's leaving me soon, and that makes me sad, not happy... Anyway, in typical Oprah fashion, she presented one of those heartwarming, inspirational segments that renews my hope for and faith in humanity just at the moment when I need it most.

This is George Dawson:
George Dawson was born in Marshall, Texas in 1898. The grandson of a slave, one of his earliest memories was witnessing the lynching of 17-year old black man who was accused of getting a white girl pregnant. George was the eldest of five children and he started working on the family farm almost as soon as he could walk; by the time he was eight years old he was working full-time in the fields. When his aunt and uncle died, George's parents took in his nine cousins, so in an effort to help feed the now enormous family, George went to work on a neighboring farm when he was just twelve.  Mr. Dawson eventually ended up at Oak Farms Dairy where, in 1944, his boss recognized his skill and dedication and offered him a promotion; all he had to was fill out an application and the new title and a raise would be his. Ashamed to admit that he couldn't even write his own name, let alone fill out an application, Dawson demurred, claiming that he was happy in his current position. 

Dawson continued working at Oak Farms until they forced him to retire at 65. He continued to garden and do yard work for his neighbors until he decided to fully retire at ninety. When he was 98, an education recruiter knocked on his door and handed him some information about adult education classes. As Dawson remembers it, he looked at the young man, looked at the paper, decided he no longer cared if his secret came out, and said, "Hang on a minute while I get my hat!"
    He hopped in the recruiter's car and drove to the adult education center, which happened to be in the same building where his seven children, now all college graduates, had gone to school. There he met Carl Henry, the retired teacher who would become his instructor. Dawson had a brief moment of doubt when he realized that he was half a century older than the average student at the center, but he decided that he wouldn't let his pride keep him from doing the thing he had wanted to do all his life - learn to read.  

    {George and Carl - Source}
    Despite his initial hesitation, Dawson returned to the adult education center again and again. He had to start at the very beginning - with the alphabet, but in three months, he was reading. The first book that he chose to read on his own was the Bible. "There's a verse I love: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' Now the Word is with me. If there's anything worth being proud of, it's that" (
    {If that doesn't melt your heart, you are dead inside. Source}

    He didn't stop there; he continued attending school and started working on his GED. By the time he was 102, George Dawson was the bestselling co-author of his autobiography, Life is So Good. By the time he passed away in 2001 at 103, he had also received two honorary doctorates. A year after his death, the George Dawson Middle School opened in Southlake, Texas. 

     I want to be more like George Dawson.



    2. amazing I pray to God that I can make a difference like George Dawson did.

    3. George was such an amazing person and such an inspiration for us all, as to how to live our lives. It's not about money, and one person can make a difference.

    4. I loved this story! George Dawson was an incredible man and such an inspiration to anyone who feels they can't achieve their goals.

    5. I saw this on Oprah too and googled George and your blog came up! Such a lovely post and such an inspiration to us all.... It's never too late! I too want to be more like George!

      1. This amazing story reminds me that what we share will multiply, and what we withhold will diminish. This story needs to be shared over and over again so that those of us who suffer with our shortages can find the courage to move past them. Who knows? Perhaps, it will be our story that's being told next that's inspiring millions to take action as well. This tells us that it's never too late to take action on improving ourselves.

    6. If you have doubts and reservation about anything, read this amazing story and accomplishment of George Dawson. One of my heroes and One of the 5 people I would have at my dinner table. He is my inspiration. I will always try my hardest at anything in his honor. Thank you George! It can be done! You had more courage and strength then most.

    7. Fiona Jan 2013

      We all need to know an old person,they are the unsung heroes not the multimillionaire celebraties.This book made me reflect on my own Dad who a week before his death,(he knew he was dying)he came out driving with me .I took him to a small local village and he was so excited to have found somewhere new.He was only 86, a baby compared to George Dawson,like George,he never stopped learning and working,did what he could ,had '40 winks'then got on again. I see so many folk give up on life ,not living life,so glad George Dawson came into my life now.I,ll be printing off his photo so I can see it daily . By the way,Dad died from secondary cancer from a small skin cancer on his face many years earlier,keep a close eye on your skin and any small changes,go see a Dr .1mm into the skin,a skin cancer can travel into your bloodstream.

    8. it's such a blessing and inspiration to know that he got his education after all,, it inspires me to finish college,, it literally runs close to home since he is my great, great uncle


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