I've already written about how Mom died 19 years ago. She was only about 5 years older than I am right now. (That seems impossible for me to believe!)
Teaching + emotional turmoil has all the makings for a disaster. And yet...
I came back to a desk full of notes and cards. Early in the day, a local florist delivered flowers from a student and his dad. My sophomores were wonderful.
The topper of it all was from a student I had in class the year before. This junior boy had given me so much grief during his sophomore year. He was one of the youngest in his family and the only boy. He was too smart for his own good, a good athlete, and he was about 5'2" tall. He spent most of his HS years 'proving' himself and driving teachers and administrators crazy. Do you see where this is going?
When he was in my class, C would frequently say totally inappropriate things. This was during the Michael Jackson crotch grabbing days. Any time I wasn't looking, C would saunter down the aisle grabbing his crotch to entertain his classmates. Students complained. He and I had more than one heated discussion about his behavior. He pushed every button that I had. I was so relieved to make it through his sophomore year without strangling him!
About three days after Mom's funeral, his mom knocked on my door at home. She had a beautiful, fresh green Christmas wreath. She told me C had asked her to deliver it to me. He had told her, "Mom, it's Christmas. Mrs. E can't be feeling like doing anything for the holidays this year. Those two little girls (K & L were 10 & 8) need Christmas. It will be a start to her decorating." Yeah, his mom couldn't believe it either. She told me C so rarely showed his thoughtful side to others-- that when he did, she was going to act on it. I was so touched. Words failed me.
Who would have believed it?
Who would have believed C would ask me if he could be my aide his senior year? Was he nuts? I had barely kept from killing him his sophomore year; I didn't think we could chance another year together. I wanted my last memory of him as my student to be of that thoughtful gesture.
And I think of that ornery face every year when I hang the Christmas wreath. Some things you just don't forget.