Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.
When I was a baby, my older brother Mac asked my parents if they could take me back to the hospital and leave me there for good. Luckily for me, my mom and dad did not agree with his toddler reasoning. My family is comprised of influential people who have offered me love, support, wisdom, and humor through my life’s journey. Along the way, they have taught me several life lessons which I will never forget.
My dad taught me that people show their love in different ways. Whether it is sending me 27 texts in a row, or working twenty hours a day, he shows he truly cares. From him, I’ve also discovered that, occasionally, good intentions can cause poor outcomes. One morning off from work, he cooked us a huge breakfast. However, my brother said he wasn’t hungry. My dad replied that after going through all the trouble of cooking breakfast, the least my brother could do would be to eat it. After taking one bite, Mac threw up all over the table, and then said, “Wow, I feel much better!” My dad was upset, but I’ve learned in situations like this, the best thing to do is laugh.
My brother is my biggest hero. When Mac was four, he started having seizures that caused his body to shake, his eyes to roll back in his head, and he would often puke as well. After having a seizure, he would sleep for hours. He was diagnosed with epilepsy.
One day, my mom was outside doing yard work, and Mac and I were inside. All of a sudden, he told me he felt like he was going to puke. I said, “No you’re not.” About ten seconds later, he threw up on the floor and then had a seizure. So, if someone says they are going to puke, it’s best to believe them. Eventually, Mac was put on the right medication to get his seizures under control. As a kid, his most serious seizures also caused memory loss. He had to re-learn how to tie his shoes and how to ride a bike multiple times. He is now in college and playing soccer, a living lesson in perseverance.
My mom has the biggest heart, and easily sees the good in people. She can be counted on to tell it like it is, and is always up for an adventure. On a cold November day in northern Minnesota, we were at a cabin with a porta-potty instead of running water. She opened the door, and in rushed an orange furry flash, which fell into the toilet basin full of poopy blue water. After some splashing around, out jumped a smelly orange cat with no tail and extra toes. My mom caught him and drove the hour back to our house to clean off the porta-potty sludge. After having diarrhea all over our house and a dose of antibiotics, we decided to keep him. From my mom’s kindness, I learned not to form judgments based on appearance.
My grandma is an alcoholic who has been sober for eight years and is in AA. From her, I’ve learned that it’s never too late to make a change. She has also taught me the power of laughter. Last year, on a busy day at the gym, she was walking on the treadmill. She went to take off her sweatshirt, and accidentally took her shirt off with it. After flashing her bra to all the young, fit guys around her, she got her shirt back on, ran over to me, and described what happened. Laughing it off, she got right back on a different treadmill, and kept on walking. Learn to laugh at yourself; your attitude is more important than your circumstances.
Finally, my great aunt Rosemary taught me you don’t have to be someone’s grandchild to be loved like one. Many lessons can be learned from the significant people in our lives if we pause to reflect upon what makes them special to us. To my crazy amazing family, I love you guys.