Saturday, September 21, 2019

A good dream

My son:  Did I tell you about my dream?
Me: No
Son: It was about Papa Don.
Me: Ah.
Son: I was walking the dog by a fence, and Papa Don was up ahead with some cousins, and they were cleaning up a pile of leaves.  He was wearing his red sweater vest.
Me: *tears*
Son: He turned around and saw me, and he said, "Hey! Hello!" and he walked over and gave me a hug.
Me: *sobs*
Son: I cried all morning.  It was a good dream.

It's not lost on me that we're so lucky to have only good memories of him.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

30,218 Days

On May 7, 2019, my principal, Cheryl, rushed me out the door to go to the Staff Recognition Banquet.  I was tutoring some kids since it was getting close to testing, and they wanted to make sure they ready.  Who was I to say no?  But I didn't have time to get ready for the banquet.  I had on jeans, my hair was a mess, but I knew I was getting my 10-year pen so I quickly headed off to the banquet. 

There's this thing our district does that is completely awesome.  They allow 10 graduating seniors to choose a teacher to give a golden bell award to.  The students read a letter to the teachers about the memories they have from their classrooms.  That night, unbeknownst to me, a former student was presenting me with a bell. This student couldn't speak, because she lost her voice the weekend before, but her mom read the letter for her.  As I was listening to the story, it dawned on me that she could be presenting the bell to me.  Once I realized it was me, the tears flowed, because she was relating a struggle she had had before coming to my class that I didn't know about. I can't tell you how humbling it was to receive this award from this student.  She's an amazing person, so to be her bell recipient put me on cloud nine.  

I've always felt this is the best award a teacher can receive: an acknowledgement from a former student. It's better than anything the district can dream up and is something every teacher dreams of.  We know when we go into teaching our efforts will be largely overlooked.  Let me tell you, this makes up for all of it.

My drive home that night, about 10 minutes worth, was wonderful, exhilarating, and I remember thinking it was going to take a long time to come down from that high. I'm so glad I had that moment.  Everyone should have that moment.  I posted, "Feeling blessed" on Facebook.  Then I got the text.

It was from mom.  "Sweetie, I think dad is closer to heaven's gate than we realized."  Then the flurry of texts between me, my mom, and my sister-in-law.  Me: "What is going on?"  Mom: "He hasn't been out of bed since Wednesday (this was Tuesday) and he hasn't eaten in three days."  Sister-in-law: "You should come."  So at 11:00 pm I made the phone calls for subs, packed up, and drove two and a half hours to my sister-in-law's home. 

I was glad they called.  I had been with dad 10 days before.  He met me at the door when I arrived, which surprised me.  He was usually too weak.  That weekend we sat on the couch together, we ate dinner together, I helped him take off some socks he was pretty irritated about. But I noticed by the time I left on Sunday he was pretty weak.  

Dad passed away just a couple of hours after I arrived that night.  He died in his sleep.  A peaceful death for a peaceful man.  I love these pictures of dad and me below.  He was my sounding board. We had wonderful talks about thoughts, ideas, and when I was looking for answers. "You know God even used asses," was one of my favorite bits of advice he would give me when I was frustrated with someone.  He was wise, and he loved to learn and study.  He was an inspirational leader, and it never went to his head.  I love that about him.

So for the dad who said, "Oh for Pete's sake" when they announced my name as homecoming queen (which is why I loved this was our inside joke)...
...and for the dad who piled on the brown plastic couch with us, and did the things dads do like fall asleep while watching TV, or teaching me how to ride a bike, or using my doll dishes to teach me and Steve table manners, or sneaking in my room to leave me gifts from Santa, or pulling my teeth, or giving me that well-deserved dad was a big influence on me.  And I choose to be thankful for those amazing 30,218 days he lived.  The world is a better place because he was in it.