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Educator of the Year
At age 7, my parents informed me Ashley Feest would become my Nanny for the upcoming years. At the time I was nervous, but also filled with joy to welcome someone new into my life. She was about 5’6” with dark, curly hair that sat on her shoulders. She wore the brightest and most stylish outfits with a pair of earrings that matched each look. Ashley was not only a Nanny to me, but also a mother to her two kids at the time, Aubrey (2) and Ricky (Not born yet). At 7, I didn’t know she would become one of the most influential people in my life.
Ashley has acted as a motherly figure to me for as long as I can remember. However, there is one specific moment in my life that I will never forget.
It was a calm, spring afternoon at Merton Intermediate School and the last bell of the day blared as I rushed out the doors to go home. Strolling through the parking lot, I reached Ashley’s navy blue Volvo. I made my way into my seat and Ashley stated, “Your Dad has an urgent Business meeting to attend tonight and won’t be coming home until tomorrow.” At the same time, Mom was in China for work. Ashley then informed my sister and me, “You will sleep over at my house since you’re too young to be home alone all night.”
After hearing this from Ashley it all seemed to be happening so fast I could barely process the information. I remember feeling strange and worried that there was something else going on, but I let it go.
Then we arrived at her bright, big, brown house that sat on the side of the road approached by a long driveway. I was thrilled to be having a sleepover. I always had an unbreakable bond with her children. We would play tag, hide and seek, watch movies, and consistently have a good time. When I was with her children the age difference between us didn’t seem to exist. Her children felt like the joy on Christmas morning as you dashed your way down the stairs to find all the gifts Santa brought the night prior.
Later that evening, Ashley made us dinner as we gathered in her dining room that overlooked her backyard. We had small talk about our day and how school went. But then the conversation seemed to take a turn as the tone in Ashley’s voice weakened.
I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t decipher the problem.
Ashley’s voice started to crack. Then she said, “This is really hard for me to say, but your father was in a severe car accident earlier this afternoon. He is still alive, but is in serious medical condition in the hospital. I wasn’t going to tell you guys today, but your mother reached out to me and insisted that it should be done. I’m always here for you girls as I think of you as my own children. If you want to talk about it I’m willing to listen and comfort you as much as I can during this difficult time.”
My heart dropped and I sat there staring blankly at the dining room table. My appetite was lost and I felt sick to my stomach. I looked at my sister and she was at a loss of words. It felt as if the world had stopped and we were all alone.
Ashley stood up from her chair and held me in the tightest hug and kissed my head. She whispered, “We’re going to get through this.”
I felt a certain relief being held in her loving arms. She made me feel safe and assured me that everything would be alright. She treated me like I was her daughter and she was my second mother.
Later that night, Ashley tried her hardest to make sure my sister and I were okay, using her best effort to make us feel better about the situation including laughs and smiles. This allowed us to look on the bright side and recognize everything we were grateful for. Her children still gave me joy as we continued to play board games and imaginative games.
At this point I knew I could get through this painful moment. Ashley gave me the strength to move on and it made me a stronger person today. Without Ashley I don’t think my reaction to the situation would have been the same. My Dad ended up being alright after the accident and is still healthy now. Ashley’s motherly instincts and character is what carried me through this long, horrific day and it is a day I will never forget.