My memory has a special room just for teachers; and tonight they came out and paid me a visit.
I wonder if they ever imagined such immortality? It is a very long time ago--43 years since high school--and yet they are frozen in time in my mind, as real as they were then. I can see them and feel them vividly, both in appearance and personality. Maybe it's that the mind, eyes and heart of a child are like sponges that absorb impressions and hold onto them more easily than they do in later years.
Each teacher in my memory has a sense of "caricature" about them, but perhaps that is because they were a little larger than life to us and their personalities extremely distinct.
Teachers all seemed much older than we were, even those who I now realize must have been quite young. But one who didn't seem old at all was a white haired supply teacher who filled the gap when I was in my last year of elementary school. I can see now that inside this teacher, who must have been close to retirement age, lived a child with whom we instinctively connected. We didn't see the outer shell, we just saw her soul! She read to us from a book called, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a wonderful book that I had never heard of before she introduced me to C.S. Lewis. She told us how she used to slide down a long, polished wooden bannister with a curved end when she was a child. Imagine! A grown up who loved to slide down bannisters. We loved her and I feel as if I will see her one day in heaven.
The prize for worst tempered, goes, I think, to one of my art teachers. He had long, wild hair the colour of carrots and serious, broody-moody icy-blue eyes. He threw blackboard erasers, scattering chalk dust at us when he lost his patience, which was frequently. I still loved art, and loved it even more when a new teacher arrived who looked as though he had stepped right out of a French Impressionist painting. He was short, with pale skin and dark hair and a mustache. He taught us about Toulouse Lautrec, Manet, Monet and Degas and encouraged me to become an art teacher. I was so shy that I could not imagine standing in front of a class and teaching. "You think that now because you are 15," he said, "But you will not always feel that way." I did not believe him., but I joined the art club and stayed after school and thought that I would become a painter one day.
My needle work teacher made a great impression on me and I learned much from her. She was gray haired and frowned intensely and seemed to always have an over watery mouth, for she sprayed as she spoke with a sputtery manner. I was not a natural needlewoman but I did try hard. I still can hear her voice saying "Gusset;" and feel the spray. At times I despaired of ever learning to sew. I learned to rip out seams that were not exactly right and to never settle for less than perfect. My sewing skills were inherited from my mother, who helped me with my homework one night with disastrous results. In class we had done two rows of gathering stitches on the sewing machines, around the shoulder edges of sleeves which were to be inserted into the armholes of a blouse. At home that night, I struggled ineptly to fit the sleeves into the armholes, and cried tears of frustration until Mum came to my assistance. She removed all hope of doing it by taking the messy loose threads of the gathering stitches and pulling them out. I still remember my gasp of horror as I helplessly watched the threads disappearing from the fabric, too swiftly to protest. It was worth the catastrophe for the many opportunities it gave us to laugh about it since.
This reminds me that children are thinking, observing, absorbing and remembering much more than we might think. It makes me want to be more intentional in the way I relate to them, to think about how I want to be remembered, maybe not as a teacher, but as a Sunday School teacher, grandparent, aunt or just a friend.
Mark 10:16 (Amplified Bible)
16And He took them [the children up one by one] in His arms and fervently invoked a] blessing, placing His hands upon them.