Eric Rapin took care of his family and did well in school in spite of many challenges – such as having to do it all as a kid. He moved around a lot, but was always at the top his class. After succeeding in helping his siblings and mother, his success in school led to a better life for his own family.
At the tender age of nine, Eric began to take care of his sister, who was only one year old at the time. He didn’t have any help from his mother, who had to work, or his older brother, who didn’t do what he was told. Eric changed her diapers and fed her in a big dark house at the end of their street, with a forest looming behind it. Many times he had to work on weekends and watch his friends play outside, which was not very fun. Still, he stayed at the top of his class.
Later in his life, Eric’s family moved around more and more. Even though he rarely stayed in a school for more than a year, it didn’t faze him and he did very well. Eric became the first person on both sides of his family to go to college. Asked why he cared for his family, he said it was his duty to help his sister and that he did well in school because he really liked it.
I asked him if it was hard to make friends when you moved through so many schools. “No,” he replied. “Even though I moved a lot, I usually made friends with the troublemakers. The parents of my friends loved me. They thought I was a good influence.” Some of Eric’s friends skipped school and vandalized or stole property. One of his friends, a pastor’s son, was very rebellious, and their teacher tried to discipline him, even going so far as to unplug the spark plugs in his student’s car. His friend got more rebellious every time the teacher, who was also a pastor’s son, tried to discipline him.
Another time when Eric was in the sixth grade, he attended a very small Baptist school where you did the work at your own pace by filling out workbooks. Once you finished a workbook, you were given the next one. After he had moved on from that school, Eric found out that he not only had finished the sixth grade but also had finished the seventh grade as well! Because he was in the middle of the school year, he didn’t want to change his grade, so went through the seventh grade curriculum a second time in the following school year.
Eric didn’t think about what he was doing at the time, but afterward he was happy to have accomplished so much, he later said. Though he didn’t consider himself a hero, he was proud of his accomplishments. The experience made him determined and taught him how to concentrate on whatever he decided to work on.
When Eric got married, he said that one parent needed to stay home because someone needed to take care of the babies. He also knew how to care for a young baby, which was unusual for most people.
Through a life filled with babysitting and constant moving, Eric has now lived in 51 houses – the one I live in is the 51st. Eric has worked at Adobe, a software company, and got married and had three children. He’s a dad, brother and a son. He has accomplished much and has a good family that he cares for. To us, that makes him a hero.