I had a wonderful post that I wanted to write in honor of my 8th grade teacher. My sister had told me that through a friend she found that our 8th grade teacher had passed away. It took me by surprise but also I realized that with our teachers closing in on their late 80s – early 90s, it is logical that all good things must come to an end. So, I poured my heart out in memory of her and the effect she had on me as a person and as a professional. Below is the post I intended for this blog:
A few nights ago I found out from my sister that my 8th grade Homeroom and Math teacher, Sister Elizabeth, had passed away some time ago. Sis has been good about keeping in touch with her and the other sisters who taught us in grammar school all those years ago. The friendship reached all the way across our family, to Mom and Dad. When Dad passed, I remember the number of condolences and well wishes that the teachers at my school had sent our way. When I reached 8th grade, Sister Elizabeth, who was known to have a very tough reputation, had greeted me and told me she had such tremendous respect for my father and wished my Mom well under the circumstances that had happened 3 years prior.
Sister Elizabeth was a talk, no-nonsense teacher. As a student I found her to be stern and she always would call me out when she felt (and most times was correct) that I wasn’t putting any effort into my education. My sister had been taught by Sister Elizabeth and she had a standard of excellence she expected from the sibling of her best student. I, sadly, was not excellent. I wasn’t even adequate. I sucked at math and overall was a mediocre student. I wasn’t bothered that I didn’t excel as my sister had, I accepted it. Sister Elizabeth would have none of that. She would implore me when I had bad grades to get better. She believed in me and while I never proved her right, I was competent enough to pass her classes.
Years later, when we talked and encountered each other, she was proud of how I had done with my life. Even though my road to law was long and tortious, she knew I would make something out of my life. I thanked her in believing in me and she told me that while my sister had the potential and used it to her fullest, she knew I needed to be encouraged cause she saw potential but also a great deal of slacker. I told Sister Elizabeth that hindsight being 20/20, I realized just how much she helped shape me. She even apologized for calling me “Radish” which she did by accident because she had a hard time pronouncing my name. I told her it was funny more than hurtful and I’ve been called worse (ask my ex-gfs lol).
So we kept in touch on and off during the years. Mostly through my sister, and when Sister Elizabeth found herself in the hospital that my sister is a physician at, Sis would make sure she had the best care. I realized as time went by, that of all the people who knew me since I was child and kept in touch with me, there are not that many who are currently a part of my life. Sister Elizabeth was one of the few who knew my Dad. Those people hold a special place in my heart because they keep his memory alive through the kind thoughts they share with me about him and his effect on them. I noticed Sister Elizabeth was getting older, a little slower, slightly stooping which didn’t show much cause she was such a tall woman. My sister related to me a conversation she had with her when talking about gays/lesbians and Sister Elizabeth, having been in the Church for practically her whole life, said, they are people and should be treated like the rest of us. There isn’t anything we can do to change someone who were born that way. Profound words from such a progressive person.
When I found out the news she had passed away, I thought about all the good she had done. She left her mark even when I hadn’t thought about it. She believed in me long before I believed in myself. I went to my local church and lit a candle in her honor, thanking her for being there for me as a teacher and friend and hoping she gets her good reward for giving of herself on this earth. 25 years later and her teaching is something I still remember. Rest In Peace Sister Elizabeth.
Well, it turned out that Sister Elizabeth had in fact not passed away, and is alive and well. She is living in a retirement community upstate! I mulled over what to do with this post and decided to post it cause while she hasn’t left her earthly bonds, I think celebrating teachers should be done regardless of the situation. I also should have known as an attorney that hearsay is not often truth unless supported by facts. So, while humbled by my legal failure, the silver lining is that I had a chance to look back on the people who educated me and shaped me into the person I am and appreciate them in my own way.