A Life Full of Promise……

The kids have been bouncing off the walls this morning…..I got everyone fed and loaded the dishwasher…I sat down to eat my breakfast and grabbed my phone. I went to Ryan’s page to see if anyone had posted new pictures of Ryan or a funny story. Instead I found this…..I encourage you to read his words below.

Papers that he had written in college on different topics. Whew…..now I am sobbing too hard to eat my breakfast.

His life was so full of promise. He had plans for the future. He loved others and was so kind. He was going to become an amazing teacher. It reminds me of how others judged him and treated him. Millie​ and I recently talked about it and she encouraged me to share my experience. Ryan’s funeral was the first funeral I ever attended that caused me to have anger in my heart. And I mean anger. Anger over how teachers and adults, at school AND at church, had judged him. Had never even given him a chance or taken the chance to really know him. They just assumed the worst….looked at his appearance and past and made assumptions. To see people sit there in attendance at his funeral, knowing that they didn’t really KNOW Ryan…infuriated me. I hope that the loss of Ryan causes them to treat everyone with kindness and respect. I hope when these adults encounter children who don’t fall into their neat little “cookie-cutter” kid model, that they will WAKE UP and just love them.

Love them for who God made them to be….skateboarder….dreads…. whatever.

I am having a hard time forgiving and forgetting…just want to be honest. I remember each person that I encountered that treated him like this in my presence. Oh Lord, please help me forget their faces. Help me forgive and just love them. That would be most honoring to Ryan.

Thank you Lord for the adults that loved him and embraced him for who he was…just Ryan. And Lord help me to always remember to truly get to know a person, don’t judge them. Just love them for the amazing gift that God made them to be.

Ryan Douglas Wilson we miss you more than we could ever say.

We miss, that this side of heaven, we won’t get a hug from you or hear you tell us you love us one more time. But we are going to catch up when we get to heaven.

Your memory is alive and you are still continuing to make a difference in the lives of others.

From Ryan’s Mom, Millie…….Jake took Ryan’s computer to go through to try to find any other videos from his GoPro. He did find some, but also found these papers he wrote for one of his classes in November. They are so good! One is about his Papa, one is about a significant event in his life, and he wrote about Sam. Another was about why he decided to be a teacher, and one about advantages/disadvantages of moving out. I thought many of you would enjoy reading them too! We never read them when he was alive.

Ryan Wilson
Mr. Bennett
Eh 101-018
September 15, 2014
Parkinson’s Disease

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Muhammad Ali is one of the most well-known boxers in the world. Before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease Muhammad Ali was a champion. Now he cannot even climb into a ring without help. Once someone is diagnosed with this deadly disease their life will change forever. My Papa, Jimmy Wilson, lived 18 years with Parkinson’s disease and it changed my life.

Parkinson’s disease is slow; it affects the nerves and minimizes movement. A person can live for years with this disease. In early stages it may cause the face to show little to no emotion or cause arms not to swing when walking. Parkinson’s disease causes stiffness and will quickly have its victim in a wheelchair. The disease symptoms worsen as the condition progresses over time and though the disease cannot be cured, medication has been created to improve the symptoms. My Papa took a handful of pills every day. All the medication and doctor visits cost my Nana lots of time and money. It was a lot of work to keep Papa comfortable during his disease.

My Papa, Jimmy Wilson, has had Parkinson’s disease for almost as long as I can remember. Though I do have vague memories of him walking around when I was young, I mostly remember him lying in his hospital bed or being pushed around in a wheelchair. My Papa grew up on a farm. He was a tall, strong, hardworking man until he started showing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. His body slowly began to get still, and he eventually got to the point where he couldn’t straighten out his body. His neck was crooked causing his head to rest on his left shoulder and his left arm rested over his chest. His feet and toes curled making it impossible to walk even if his locked up knees would allow it. My Nana and his nurse, Nancy, kept Papa clean, well dressed and happy. His skin was always kept moist and his hair was always combed over. He usually smelled like the laundry detergent that my Nana used to clean his clothes. Though my Papa was unable to take care of himself, he had a loving wife that never left his side and made sure that he was a clean man.

I always wished I could have a normal relationship with my Papa, and he could take me fishing and tell me stories about his life. He would talk about growing up on a farm picking cotton and shucking corn, or when he became a science teacher and basketball coach. Papa had a fairly normal life until Parkinson’s disease turned it inside out. I was not able to speak with him very well; he had a very hard time talking. At best he could produce a light whisper and even that was not very clear. When I sat down with him I did most of the talking, telling him about my life and trying to get him to smile. Papa had an amazing smile that truly warmed my heart to see. Though the disease took over his body, he still chose to be happy and continue living his life as best he could. He was a strong man and he never lost his faith. Jimmy Wilson died August 31, 2014, surrounded by his loving family. At his funeral we gathered to celebrate his life. People gathered to view his body tried to remember him before the disease. When I looked down into his pine casket I saw a body that reminded me of pictures I once saw of the Jews in the concentration camps. His corpse did not even look like the man I saw in all the pictures arranged around him.

I love my Papa with all my heart and he will be greatly missed by his loving wife, four amazing sons, nine grandchildren, and everyone else who knew him. My Papa was never able to teach me the things that he dreamed of teaching his grandchildren. Parkinson’s disease changed Papa’s life from taking care of his family to being taken care of by his family. Instead of him being there for me, I was able to be there for him. Now Jimmy Wilson is free of Parkinson’s disease and is flying with the angels in Heaven!

Ryan Wilson
Mr. Bennett
Eh 101-018
September 29, 2014
A Life Changing Event

One of the most significant events in my life is losing my best friend, Samuel Tompkins. A little over a month ago Sam committed suicide. It was a tragic event that while scar me for the rest of my life. His suicide was a shock to most people, but not so much to me. Sam and I were very close friends. He was one of the only people that I could open up to. We both struggled with depression and could relate to one another on almost anything. Sam was always there for me if I needed him, and I always tried to be there for him as well. We were best friends and when he committed suicide it broke my heart.

Sam lived in Jacksonville with his mom while his two younger sisters lived in Florida with his stepdad. When Sam’s step dad overdosed and passed away, his mom had to stay in Florida while the girls were in school. Sam chose to stay behind to go to JSU and live at home alone. His trips to Florida caused him to miss classes. Ultimately, he ended up dropping out. So Sam was alone with nothing to do and that is dangerous for people with depression problems. I hated that because I could not be there all the time. It is best to stay busy and be around the people. Love is the only thing that can keep people happy.

Sam had a lot of friends who would keep him busy most of the time. He had lots of good friends, but most of them did not notice the sadness in him. I knew my friend was in a dark place, and I tried to be there for him as much as I could. He did not have a car, so anytime he needed to go places I would drive him there. Sam and I loved longboarding and would always find time to improve our skills together, even if it was in the middle of the night. I loved Sam like a brother and gave him as much time as I could. I always thought that I would grow up and still be close friends with Sam. I imagined what he would look like and everything; losing Sam was like losing a part of me.

The last couple of weeks in July Sam started to scare me. It seemed like he had lost all happiness. He changed from always being happy and positive to being negative and depressed. He talked about his life like it was worthless. Sam truly believed that his life didn’t have a purpose. He dint now what he was doing with his life and he wanted it to be over. One day Sam called his mom and told her he was going to kill himself and said his goodbyes. She called me and I rushed to his house. I had not said much to him before this. He did not even know I knew what he was planning. I spilled everything to Sam. I told him that he can get through it; everyone loves him so much, that God has a plan for his life, and I would miss him. He didn’t say much, but I knew that the storm was settled. I also knew that this only pushed back his feelings, and they would always be there.

Sam’s mom decided to sell the house in Jacksonville and move to Florida. We spent weeks packing up and going through all their stuff. Those were the last memories I will ever have with him. Sam and I talked occasionally while he was in Florida, but not a lot. I told Sam that next time he thought about suicide to call me, at least so we could talk one last time. I never got that last phone call from him. Sam hung himself at his house in Florida. I attended his funeral and grieved with his family, but the loss of my friend is an unresolved event in my life. I have regrets and a mixture of other feelings making this event unforgettable in my life.

Ryan Wilson
Mr. Bennett
Eh 101-018
November 14, 2014

My major at Jacksonville State University is elementary education. Many things in my life have caused me to take this path. One major influence has been all of my family members that have also been teachers. A lot of teachers that I’ve had in the past have influenced me to become a teacher as well. I have been working with kids for years and have a passion for it. Starting this first semester I was still undecided on my major. After going to classes and seeing what college is like I finalized my decision to be a teacher.

Family is a big influence in everyone’s life. My family is filled with school teachers. All four of my grandparents, two of my uncles, and two of my aunts have been teachers. They all made good lives for themselves and seemed to be happy. My family is the major cause of my decision to become a teacher. I saw the lives they lived and wanted to be able to live like them one day. I never talked to anyone about it before I started college. Once I did ask some of them questions about their journey to become a teacher and I realized I wanted to do it as well.

Throughout my elementary and high school years I have had lots of teachers. I can remember just about every teacher I have had and I do not remember having many male teachers. All the male teachers that I had are the ones that I remember the most. There is a calling for male teacher, and I feel like I am being called to be one of them. A good teacher builds relationships with students and is in the position to be a very positive influence on the students’ lives. Being influenced by different teachers in my life caused me to pursue becoming a teacher. If it wasn’t for all the great teachers I have had I would have never thought of becoming a teacher myself.

When I started high school I started volunteering at my church on Wednesday nights. Wednesday nights are when kids come and learn about Jesus, play games, and sing songs. I volunteered in the rec department and we played games with kids and taught them things as well. I learned that I love working with kids, especially the younger ones. I also started working with a swim team when I turned 16 and will be the head coach this summer. All this time I have already spent teaching kids helped me realize it is something I could do for the rest of my life. Working with kids has already had a great influence in my life and I expect that is will continues to.

When I started this semester my major was undecided. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but I also thought that I wanted to make more money than a teacher. I was also considering being an engineer or a chemist. I am good at math and I really liked chemistry in high school and I knew that I would make a lot more money. I quickly decided to just stick with being teacher once I started taking classes. My math and chemistry class are the two hardest classes I have ever taken. I was not ready for these hard classes, and am struggling in them. It is a lot of information to learn in a short amount of time and you have to do a lot of the learning on your own. Theses hard classes have caused me to not want to pursue being a chemist or engineer, because I don’t want to have hard classes like this the whole time I am in college. I just want to have a smooth ride through college so I can start teaching. Plus, I know many teachers that live comfortably.

My choice to be a teacher has had a powerful effect on my life. Choosing to be a teacher has added structure to my life. Now I know what classes I need to take and I can set up good schedules to go along with my work. Becoming a teacher is something to look forward to and something to work hard to achieve. Now that I know what I am going to college for I have less to worry about and more to focus on. It is also a good feeling to have an answer when someone asks what I am going to college for. Other than the structure it gives me, my decision to be a teacher gives me goals and hope for a good life.

My decision to become a teacher was an effect of all these things. If I didn’t have great teachers growing up that I looked up to I wouldn’t have been interested in teaching, and If I didn’t have so many family members teach I wouldn’t have been inspired to become a teacher. Working with children already has caused me to look forward to being a teacher with my own class some day and I am going to work harder because of it. My choice to become a teacher has had a positive effect on my life. I know my path now I have to follow it and work hard to achieve it.


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