Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas, Mrs. M.

(Background:  I grew up in a rural area in southwestern Ohio, a Republican enclave if ever there was one.  My brother was four when we were in the car accident that killed our mother and younger brother.  The school I attended at the time and at which he joined me when he was ready for first grade was out in the country and had about 200 students in grades 1-6.  Its FB page says that  "we may have had a field of cows around our playground.....what of it?!")

My brother is an investment broker and ~ ahem ~ a Republican precinct captain.  It was in that latter capacity that he attended a dinner a week or so ago at which he was given an award for his work in the last election.  (Ahem again.)  Afterward, a woman came up to him and said, "Are you one of the Cs from B?"

"Yes," he said, "I'm DC."  

"Do you know who I am?" she asked.

Her peered into her face and said, "You look familiar but no, I'm afraid I don't."

"I'm CM," she said.  

"OH!" he exclaimed,  "Mrs. M!  My second-grade teacher!"

"You made it!" she went on.  "I am so thrilled so see you here ~ you've really made it!."

"Because of you and the other teachers there," he said.  "Do you know that my memories begin in about the middle of first grade?  The accident wiped out everything before that."

He said that her eyes filled with tears, and she crossed the room several times during the remainder of the evening to latch onto him.

Later he told me a number of stories about those years that I had never heard.  "I remember all those teachers," he said.   "And do you know when I knew I was going to be all right?  It was in third grade with Mrs. W.  She had put me in the corner, and the principal came in and commented on it, and she said, 'Yes, DC is in the corner.  I think that he's just fine and that we all can stop coddling him.'  I knew then that I was a regular person and that I was going to be ok."

 It was a small school in a farming community with no material resources whatever.  But it was rich in those overworked and underpaid teachers who, without benefit of psychological or bereavement resources, with nothing to go on beyond their own common sense, kept two little kids from falling into the abyss.

So Merry Christmas, Mrs. M and Colleagues, from fifty years forward.


  1. Somehow I never really connected to the reality that the three kids and your mother were in the car....who'd have thought that a simple act of discipline could have a normalizing impact....but it makes sense. Yes indeed, gratitude for those who hold us together we cannot.

  2. Beautiful. What a full circle moment that was, and how wonderful for your brother to be able to say thank you for the selfless work that carried you two through such a devastating loss. Angels are all around us, I think.

    Oh, and thank God for the Republican Party. (just teasing on that one.)

  3. What a beautiful story...even more beautiful because it's true. I'm so thankful for the gift of that school in your lives. It gives me great hope.

  4. I am grateful that such wonderfully insightful teachers were in your community and lives during such a critical time in your lives. Thank you for reminding me to thank a teacher or two in the upcoming days. Two of my mentors have died so I can't thank them but may try to find one's daughter.

  5. Good stuff here, makes me desire what is lost from my memory.

  6. Beautiful tribute and reminder ... thank you