“I am a survivor and I know you are as well,” author Linda Lawson told the students as she shared her incredible story during a recent Character and Leadership Development Program event at the Glen Mills Schools.
Born in 1952 to an uneducated sharecropper, to say that Mrs. Lawson’s life has been an incredible challenge would be a huge understatement. Ricketts, rejection, poverty, hunger, homelessness, three house fires, her sister’s murder, her brother’s suicide, colon cancer, eleven moves during her childhood, living in shacks, etc.- the list goes on and on. However, Mrs. Lawson, author of the recently published “A Brighter Day,” met every challenge with grit and inspired Glen Mills students during her visit.
“What an amazing journey and amazing lady,” Glen Mills student Jan Valera said. “She was very inspirational because of the fact she overcame so much.”
Mrs. Lawson took 20 years to write the book.
“It was therapy for me,” Mrs. Lawson explained. “I would write a little bit, cry, get upset, and leave it alone for a few years before beginning to write again.”
Her father, a talented musician but an abusive alcoholic, suddenly and without explanation moved the family from Virginia to snow-covered New Jersey when she was a young child. It was the first of nearly a dozen moves, always into “shacks” without indoor bathrooms, during her childhood.
“It was always chaos,” Mrs. Lawson explained.
Her father would constantly be on the road playing guitar and singing and her mother would always go with her.
“It fell on me to raise my younger siblings,” Mrs. Lawson, at that time a child herself, explained.
Mrs. Lawson encouraged the Glen Mills students to help make someone else’s life better.
“You can always make an impact on another person’s life,” Mrs. Lawson shared.
She used a full circle example from her own life to illustrate that point. When she was a child on the school bus after enrolling in a new school, no one else would sit with her because she looked different. However, one girl did befriend her and shared her seat to make her feel welcome. Now, almost 60 years later, that same girl is now living with the Lawson’s as she is the one who needs help.
“Try to help people when you can,” Mrs. Lawson said.