Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So I was reading Hal's blog over here and it reminded me of the day I returned to school after the Christmas vacation (yes, Virginia, there used to be a Christmas vacation) in the 5th grade.

I was in Mrs. Tidball's class. She was my favorite elementary school teacher. My mother had died on December 5, and my stepfather and his sister kept me out of school until after the break ended. I was sent to Fullerton to stay with his family. I was anxious to return to class, to my friends, to my favorite teacher. She showed me a larger world, and was the first I'd met besides my mother and me to be a FANATIC reader. And, of course, she showed me that people could have really odd mannerisms (I'd be happy to show show you sometime) and have a really lovely heart.

I remember the day as though it were yesterday. I walked into the room, and across to Mrs. Tidball's desk. I handed her the note my Aunt Bunnie (not making that up, folks) had written to excuse my lengthy absence. I'd been afraid to read it. Apparently, it said:

Dear Mrs. Tidball,

Please excuse Annie's absence from school due to a family emergency.


The Grinch (ok, that's not how she signed it. but she should have)

Of course, Mrs. Tidball looked at me and asked me what had happened.

I was a very small, very timid, barely 10 year old 5th grader. And I had to stand up in the front of the class and say,

"My mother died."

You could have heard a pin drop. And echo.

"Okay. Well then, Annie. Take your seat. You have a lot of work to make up."

And as I slowly made my way to my desk, choking back the hot tears, I wished someone would have told the school what happened. I wished that Mrs. Tidball would have put her arms around me and told me it was going to be okay. I wished that my mom was there. I wished that someone would let me talk about her. But no one did.

Kudos to the teacher in Hal's story.

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