Recently my parents hosted a small gathering in Georgia so Steve could meet some of the folks from down South who’d known me back in the day (and loved me anyway, I reckon). Through a charity silent auction, my parents had secured an afternoon on a houseboat on the lake, and though the forecast threatened to rain us out, it turned out to be a beautiful day.
I’d never been on a houseboat before myself, so I enjoyed just ogling our digs-for-the-day! There was yummy barbecue, games and puzzles, a photo booth with goofy props. And M&Ms with our faces on them!
And—of course, because in my world, no party is complete without it—dancing!
Most importantly, there were good friends and good memories, shared from the past, and made in the present. Maybe it’s because school years everywhere are wrapping up, but I started thinking a lot about all the wonderful teachers in my life. Many of those near and dear to me over the years made or make teaching their profession: my parents; my best friend from childhood, Sherry; our dear family friend and former Girl Scout leader, Brenda Sue; my honey, Steve. The list just keeps going. I have also learned much from those who, whether they made a career of teaching or not, have been my teachers.
There’s my best gal pal, Sherry, who’s taught me that lasting friendship is sometimes quiet and always steady, that imagination and shared laughter are powerful forces, and that when all else fails, just dance. (Especially the Jitterbug. In your living room. To Abba.)
There’s Lindsey C., one of my church youth leaders, who with his wife Shelly mentored me and my friends through some of our early adolescent years. Watching him good-naturedly grit his way through a caving trip he escorted our youth group on (which his adult 6 foot+ self enjoyed much less than my waif-like teenage self did), I saw how sometimes sacrificing your own comfort is a gift to others. Mucking through the narrow, dark cave, I tapped into a sense of adventure I hadn’t known was mine—and it’s never left me.
There’s Brenda Sue, whose compassionate nature and gentle strength have been a model of grace throughout my girlhood. Along with my parents, she survived a week-long camping trip at Disney World chaperoning twelve prepubescent Girl Scouts. And does that woman know how to laugh like a beautiful song!
There’s Steve G. and Gloria B., for whom I served as a student office assistant during my college years. Both showed me, in different ways, how to balance a strong work ethic with an appreciation for life beyond the office walls: Dr. G. made choices that enabled him to retire in his fifties and devote time to family and writing a book; Gloria is still traveling the world, Cuba her most recent destination.
And, oh, how much I always learn from my students, and how grateful I am some of them become friends. There’s Anna, who gifted me with a delightful home-cooked dinner during a particularly lonely time in my life, and who is a model of quiet courage. And Bobbin, equally brave, possessed of a poise, a chutzpah, I have long envied and more than once adopted as inspiration (that also applies to her spot-on writing instincts and incredible fashion sense).
And, of course, there are my parents. I can’t even begin to enumerate the many lessons they have taught me.
And Steve, who teaches me every day how to love.
Please excuse me while I have a moment…
I’ve been getting choked up a lot lately, and it’s not because of an upsurge in pollen. (I suspect I’m going to need industrial strength waterproof mascara at this wedding thing.) So what if it’s May? Spring is just as good a time of year as November for intense gratitude, right?
Though Spring might be better for tropical-colored M&MS!