Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A teachable lesson

The mother of my third grade classmate was killed on the train tracks. We had just settled in to the school day when the principal came to our classroom door to take him out. No one told the class anything. There was no social media to spread news rapidly, and besides we relied on the adults to keep us safe without giving it much thought. At supper my parents broke the news about the accident. 
The next morning I put a dollar of my allowance into a tin box and took it to school. The box filled with donations from my classmates, and my mother bought the flowers for the funeral. 
In the weeks following, I waited each day in the hallway for my friend to come to school, and when he arrived at the last minute, I tied his shoes and straightened his shirt as a matter of habit. I felt sad that he didn't have a mother, and that he was struggling with feelings that I couldn't imagine. We stayed good friends.
 Fifty years later he said that he was a lost soul for many years of his life, and he remembered how I tried to keep him afloat while he was sinking. 
I suppose that year started me thinking about becoming a teacher like the lovely lady that held a group of eight-year olds together to mourn with their friend while reading them hopeful adventures of faraway places and possibilities.