My wife Georgette was born in Tripoli, Lebanon. Three months after her birth, her parents immigrated to the United States. When they arrived in Peoria, Illinois, they could not speak, read, or write in English.
The only person they knew in Peoria was Georgette’s mother’s uncle, Tony Romanous. The only forms of long-distance communication at that time were very expensive phone calls and air mail. Air mail often took from two weeks to a month to deliver a letter to Lebanon.
In addition to having to adapt to a new language and culture, Georgette’s dad, Dumit Ghantous, had a more immediate problem he had to deal with — his wife Anna Ghantous’s loneliness for her family.
Because of Anna’s immense sadness, Dumit mailed several handwritten letters each week to his brother-in-law, Fred Khattar. Fred was married to Anna’s sister, Jeanette. Dumit’s letters to Fred told him about the great opportunities that were available in America for him and his family.
Three months after Dumit started sending letters, Jeanette and Fred arrived in Peoria and moved in with Dumit’s family. Anna was thrilled that her sister was living with them. Jeanette and Fred were the first family members to follow Dumit’s family to America.
For the next 18 years, Georgette’s dad was able to help dozens of his relatives immigrate to the United States. Most of them lived with his family for several months and in some cases, several years, before they were able to support themselves. Dumit helped every family member who came to America eventually find a job, get a driver’s license, purchase a car, and buy their first home.
Georgette’s parents enrolled her in kindergarten when she was four years old. At that time, her cousin Philip Ghantous was also enrolled in the same kindergarten class. Neither Georgette nor Philip knew how to speak English. They only spoke in their native language, which was Lebanese.
Initially, their teacher allowed them to sit next to each other in the classroom, but they were eventually separated because they only communicated with each other by speaking Lebanese. Georgette was placed at one end of the classroom and her cousin Philip was placed at the other end. When the teacher wasn’t looking, Georgette and Philip would sometimes crawl across the room to sit next to each other, only to have the teacher separate them again.
Because of her forced isolation and inability to speak English, Georgette felt as though she was an outcast. She was a foreigner who was discriminated against, teased, and bullied by several of her classmates. Unfortunately, the teasing and cruelty continued throughout her grade school years. Because of the way she was treated, Georgette became quiet and withdrawn. Even after she learned how to speak English, she had a hard time participating in class because of her fear of being bullied by her classmates.
There were two other individuals in Georgette’s class who were treated the same way that she was treated — a student who was born in China and an African American student. Over time, as Georgette learned to speak English, she developed a friendship with the Chinese and African American boys. They had something in common. They were underdogs in a world where the villains were their classmates.
Throughout the years, Georgette’s parents repeatedly told her to ignore and disregard the cruelty of the other students. Her parents continually expressed their confidence in her and told her that she was born to be a leader. They told her that great leaders are often despised and treated badly by people who are envious of them.
They also told her that the students were jealous of her and that regardless of how she was treated by them, she was never to judge or mistreat others. Instead, she was to treat everyone she met with kindness and respect.
When Georgette entered high school, she felt a sense of tremendous relief. It was an opportunity for her to develop new relationships with students she had never met. While many of her classmates from grade school attended the same high school, Georgette was still able to develop several new close friendships, primarily because she refused to pass judgment on others and treated everyone that she met with kindness and respect.
She was finally able to break out of her shell and experience a certain level of popularity when she was a junior in high school. The two events that gave her confidence and changed her classmates’ perception of her was her participation in the school play and the news that she had agreed to appear on a weekly show at a local television station to teach belly dance lessons.
After high school, Georgette went to college and at the age of 21, graduated with a business management degree.
In addition to the virtue of kindness, she learned other critically important virtues from her parents, such as honesty, courage, forgiveness, and patience.
Later, after she was married and had children, Georgette didn’t want her children to go through what she was forced to endure in grade school, so she decided to give her first child — a boy — a head start by teaching him how to read when he was four years old. She then ordered a first-grade curriculum from a homeschooling organization and finished the curriculum before the school year was out.
After that, Georgette and I decided that our son would be better off if he was educated at home. She then proceeded to educate all seven of our children — a boy and six girls — at home throughout their grade school and high school years. During those years, Georgette taught them the same virtues that her parents taught her while she was growing up.
The definition of a “virtue” is “a good habit that enables a person to achieve moral excellence, goodness, and righteousness.”
When our children were growing up, one of the ways Georgette taught them the virtues was by telling them stories about two fictional sisters — Stacy and Tracy — who through their own adventures, discovered valuable, virtuous lessons. Georgette created a separate story about Stacy and Tracy for each of the virtues.
Each story had the two young girls getting into some type of mischief, and they would later learn what they did wrong and the virtuous behavior they needed to adopt and follow to become more responsible individuals.
Over the years, our children frequently asked Georgette to repeat the same stories to them. When our children got married and had their own children, Georgette started telling the same stories to our grandchildren. They were so excited about the stories that they began asking her to repeat them every time she babysat them.
Last fall, when Georgette was having a special grandma/grandchild day with three of our grandchildren, they asked her to tell them one of her Stacy and Tracy stories. After telling them one story, they asked for another. Georgette opened her laptop computer and told them that she was going to type the story on her computer while she was telling it to them, so she could later publish the story into a book for them.
She promised our grandchildren that when the book was finished, she would make a copy for each of them, so they could read the story on their own and someday pass it onto their own children.
After writing the book, Georgette decided to publish it as a hardcover book and make it the first in a series of seven books. The reason she decided on seven books is because she believes that there are seven critical virtues that children must learn before they can grow into mature, responsible adults who are capable of developing and committing to long-term, loving relationships.
We recently received our first shipment of books, and we have set up a page on Amazon where both the hardcover and a Kindle version of the book are available for purchase. The title of the book is, The Adventures of Stacy and Tracy: How To Turn Gossip Into Kindness. Georgette felt that it was important to cover the virtue of kindness first because of what her parents taught her about kindness when she was treated cruelly by her classmates.
I’ve been writing this weekly adoration letter for more than 12 years. While I’ve never asked for anything other than prayers for me or a member of my family, today I’m going to make an exception. I’m asking that you do me and my wife a favor and go to Amazon.com and purchase at least the Kindle version of the book. We’ve lowered the price of the Kindle version to the lowest price that Amazon allows — $1.99. The Kindle price will remain at $1.99 until April 16 at 10:00 PM, Central Standard Time.
If you do not own a Kindle or other electronic device that will allow you to read the Kindle version of the book, Amazon offers a free app that you can download and use to read the book. Of course, you also have the option of ordering the hardcover version of the book instead of the Kindle version if that’s what you want to do.
To get to the Amazon page that has Georgette’s book, all you need to do is click here and you will be redirected to the Amazon page for the book. You can also type the title of the book in the search box on Amazon.com to find the book.
The reason I’m asking you to buy the book is because I would like for you to read it and if you like it, Georgette and I would greatly appreciate it if you would post a positive review of the book on Amazon. To get to the review page, all you need to do is click here and you will be redirected to the Amazon review page for the book.
People who have purchased the book will be identified as a “verified purchaser” at the beginning of the review. Verified purchasers have more credibility with consumers because they have actually purchased the book and presumably know more about the book than non-purchasers. If you can purchase the book on Sunday, April 14, that could help Georgette’s book to hit the Amazon best-sellers list for that day.
Georgette is currently writing the second book in her series of seven books. I can’t tell you how excited we are about the work that’s been done to publish and get her book into the hands of as many parents and grandparents as possible. This project has given both of us a new lease on life. We feel as though we have begun a new phase in our lives — a phase of life that will be filled with many new and exciting adventures.
Regardless of whether you buy the book, we would appreciate it if you would pray that we are successful at getting as many of Georgette’s books as possible into the hands of parents and grandparents.
Thank you and God bless you.