Saturday, March 12, 2016

Being able to say thank you

There've been some people in my life who've had a profound positive impact on me. I'm talking about non-family members, so not people who have any kind of obligation or generally acknowledged role that requires acting as a mentor or otherwise supporting or encouraging someone.

In one case, I wasn't able to say thank you before the person died, and that's bothered me ever since. Bill was a great guy, he was my ex husband's uncle and was incredibly kind to me. I will always regret that I didn't have a chance to tell him that after Rick and I got divorced.

In the same way, my 6th grade teacher had a tremendously positive impact on my life. I saw him once after that year but due to family circumstances, hadn't seen or really heard of him again. My sister Cindy and I have reminisced about how great he was (she had him a few years before I did).

Well last night, he joined Facebook because one of Cindy's kids had mentioned something to a mutual friend of theirs about this teacher. Long story not so long, he and I reconnected and I send him an email today letting him know how much he'd helped an awkward 12 year old during a pretty difficult time in her life. I'd posted on his FB page that he'd been a life saver to me then and he was curious what I meant. So this is what I wrote:

Dear Mr. F,
Isn’t it funny, you will always be Mr. F to me, even now when I’m a middle aged mother of two and grandmother of three!
Anyway, yes, I do mean that you were life saving to me way back then. Let me explain.
Coopertown was the fifth elementary school I attended. That year in Bryn Mawr, as you might have realized, our home life (mine and Cindy’s) was tumultuous. About halfway through the year, my father had abandoned the family and moved to New Jersey, and my stepmother (Cindy’s mother) was left alone with all of us. We had seven kids all stuffed in there, and things were pretty tense.
You gave me hope that I was a worthwhile person, that I had potential and could do things. All those after school conversations, the talks about books, life, theater, well those were my life lines. Looking back as an adult, I’m just amazed at how patient and kind you were day after day with a needy 12-year-old who didn’t have a good home life or a positive adult around. Plus you ignited my love of all literature, and let me know that no book was off limits, that I had not only the ability to read them but the permission.
When I look back over my childhood, there are three people who stand out as being positive, encouraging role models to me. You are at the top of the list, and I’m glad to have a chance to tell you. 
It's been an emotional day for me, to be honest. Thinking back on 6th grade means thinking back to some tough times. But I'm so glad I was able to tell Mr. F how much I appreciated him.

This photo is from the play we did that year with him. He had us go through the original play (The Tempest) and a very stripped down version to create our own middle of the road script. I was Miranda.


1 comment:

Kerry DeBauge said...

I am pretty certain that's the most meaningful and heartfelt compliment he's ever received. I'm glad he was there for you then, and you had a chance to tell him.