I decided the other day I'd go through a box that has been sitting in my "office" for about 2 years. It was a box that we've moved about 4 times, full of things from my past. My very past, my high school past. I don't think I've looked at any of that stuff in as many years as Corey and I have been married, so I opened it with anticipation of a trip down memory lane.
What a trip it was! I found old notes and assignements from Biology, Chemestry and Calculus. Man, was I ever a stickler for detail. I'm keeping those to show the girls on the days they want to hit me over the head with a textbook, just for making them underline the title...it's all in the presentation, right Mom?
I also found textbooks and study guides I had practically slept with and a miriad of other things. Amidst a stack of birthday cards from my 17th birthday I found an e-mail. It was sent to me by a wonderful lady, my 1st grade teacher.
I remember that first day of school. We had moved and so I wasn't attending first grade in the same place I'd gone to kindergarten. It was a new school, with new kids and new rooms, and I was petrified. I was a shy kid at best and the idea of having to spend an entire day away from my mom and my brother terrified and excited me. My parents had prepped me as best they could for what was to come, the talked about what would happen, I'm sure we took a tour of the school (but I don't remember it), most importantly they told me that the lady who was to be my teacher was a good friend of theirs. Actually, she'd been at their wedding 7 years before.
In my little mind that information was like my golden key, key to the school if you will. It gave me the tiniest bit of confidence to know that my teacher was also a "family friend" and I marched my way into my first day of big girl school. I walked straight up to her and said, "Good Morning Miss. Verbeck, I'm Ashley Gartner. You were are my Mom and Dad's wedding"
It was an instant friendship. As the year passed she taught the curriculum as she was supposed to, teaching us all the basics. But it didn't stop there, at least not for me. She lit a fire in me for reading, it was with her encouragement and prodding that my love for books bloomed. She taught us that the national anthem (which was sung every morning) was unbelievably important and that we should be proud to sing it! She introduced us to Dicky Dinosaur and the rest of the Charlotte Diamond world, and she made me believe in me.
As the years past, our friendship grew. I was no longer in her class, but she always had a kind word for us. She never walked past me without at least saying hello, often much more. We saw her at our house every now and then, and then she announced she was getting married! We were so happy for her and a little more than thrill to be amongst the prestigous being invited to the wedding. At least in elementary school it felt that way. It was the first wedding I remember attending.
I grew up and while I'd see Mrs.Allen (formerly Miss. Verbeck) around town and would say hello. Our visits became few and far between. I had grown up and had my own busy life and she'd become sick. She taught elementary school as long as she possibly could, fighting the battle of the disease that plagues her body, until the day that she had to retire. And while her retirement saddened me, I was glad that she was taking the time for her.
I haven't talked to Mrs. Allen in years, not since before I got married, but I know she's still in hope. Still fighting a battle for her health that makes me so very sad. Finding this e-mail though, it did me some good. It's just a funny e-mail, but it also brought out so many old memories. And it also gave me back her e-mail address, something I'd lost many years ago, an opprotunity to reconnect and to say thank you. I will do just that, say thank you that is, but in case she's reading this too...
You changed all of our lives Mrs. Allen, for something so much greater than you'll ever know. I am more compassionate because of the kindness you showed me, I can sing along with my 3 year old to Charlotte because you taught me the words, I read and love it because you opened the door to those worlds - to places where I can be whomever I chose, and I flourished because you gave me not only the acedemic tools to survive but the confidence to use them! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
If you had Mrs. Allen/Miss.Verbeck as a teacher or have memories of her, please share them in the comments! I'd love to read them. And if you know someone who did, who also has things to share, please pass this post along. Not for the hits to my blog but for the homage to a wonderful woman!
Now, for the e-mail she sent, it's "Children's Letters to God"
Thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.
Who draws the lines around the countries?
It rained for our whole vacation and is my father mad! He said some things about you that people are not supposed to say, but I hope you will not hurt him anyways.
Your friend (but I'm not going to tell you who I am)
If we come back as something, please don't let me be Jennifer Horton, because I hate her
I want to be just like my daddy when I get big, but not with so much hair all over.
I bet it is very hard for you to love all the people in the world. there are only four people in our family and I can never do it.
My brothers told me about being born, but it doesn't sound right. They're just kidding, aren't they?
We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday School, we learned that you did it. So I bet he stole your idea.
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.