Real heros pick up the pieces of shattered lives and move up and on

NEIGHBORS

October 07, 1994|By LOURDES SULLIVAN

I came to motherhood impromptu and late: A year after my wedding, my sister and her two preschoolers moved in with us. The children spoke no English; my husband spoke no French. We had just bought a large, run-down house. There was enough room for all of us, but it was tight and messy. There was only one car to ferry the adults to work and the children to school. I went from bride to chauffeur and housemother in the time it took to pick up my sister from the airport. There were times when this was a strain. (I've taken more scalding showers because of inopportune flushing than I can count.)

I can speak of all of these things now because the end is in sight: My sister bought a house. It sounds like a small thing, a home of one's own. But for my sister it is the final proof that she has arrived. She's secure, and she's independent.

When I met her at the airport five years ago, she had just returned to the United States after her marriage dissolved. She hadn't worked in a decade, couldn't drive and had no savings. She'd met my husband once. Her children's only home had been in a small Belgian town where half the residents were their relatives. They began life here with nothing but courage and goodwill.

Ernest Hemingway once said courage is grace under pressure. Someone else said courage is the word "Yes." And Churchill said courage is the prime virtue, because it makes all the others possible. They are all right. In this age where we confuse celebrity with heroism and deify sports figures who are merely gifted professionals, I'd like to salute the heroes who pick up the pieces of shattered lives.

For conspicuous gallantry in the face of adversity, for grace HTC under pressure, for staying a difficult course for an obscured goal, I commend to your attention to these five:

* My sister, Rosy Sullivan, who went from fast-food drone to teacher's aide, has never said an unkind word about her ex-husband to her children, has learned to drive and has 18 credits toward her degree.

* My husband, Mark Wallace, who has taken my sister's children into his heart, attended dull PTA meetings, ferried the kids to swimming classes, fought over homework and decorated birthday chairs.

* Memere Cordier, the children's Belgian grandmother, who boarded a plane for the first time in her life and flew to the United States to visit the children and let them know that they are still in her heart.

* And the children, Mandy and Noel Cordier, first-generation immigrants who left a rural, French-speaking village, found friends in Savage, a new family and a new language without forgetting the old.

May your tribe increase.

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Using the copier at the Savage library is more fun now: Roberta Laric's art students from Forest Ridge have lent their artwork for our delight. Thank Colleen Bredland and Jaclyn McCallister for the flowery eyes that look down on the copier.

The children's computer area has new artwork, too. There are five self-portraits of children looking into hand mirrors. Check out artists Amanda Buckley, Andrea Clark, Daniel Coe, Vincent Eisinger and Rebecca Lee. Look into a hand mirror and see someone else's face. Didn't Velazquez do something like this in the Meninas?

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St. Phillip's Episcopal Church holds its annual rummage fair today and tomorrow in Laurel. Come rummage for vintage clothing, unusual books, cheery plants and great food for a good cause. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but come early for the best variety. The church is at 522 Main St. in Laurel. For details, call Lucy Boss at (301) 776-3304 or Norma Laverty at (301) 490-2791.

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Boy Scout Troop 871 sponsors its 4th Annual Apple Craft Fair, featuring a craft fair, a flea market, apple butter and other edible goodies. Troopmaster Neil Duty and parent assistant Marti Sears help the scouts earn money for Boy Scout Camp. The fair runs tomorrowfrom 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Lawrence Church parish center on Route 175 in Jessup near the 295 exits. For details, call (410) 551-3757.

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The Montpelier Cultural Arts Center's 1994 jazz series continues tonight with a performance by Rhumba Club, featuring players from Maryland, Virginia and Washington. Bassist Bermuda Schwartz founded Rhumba Club in 1986 after studies with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15. For details and directions, call (301) 953-1993 or (410) 792-0664.

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Brian Emelson runs the second session of his Super Skates Roller Hockey at the Forest Ridge Recreation Center for middle and high school students beginning Oct. 15. The 90-minute sessions start at 11 a.m., cost $22 and run for four weeks. For details, call Mr. Emelson at (410) 880-5855.

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