71º ~ dawn, clear skies, no breeze to speak of
Yesterday, my mom emailed to let me know that Mrs. Chambers, my fourth and fifth grade English/Math teacher had passed away. This morning I found her obituary online. Her first name was Melvina, something I'd never known; she had two children, something else I didn't know, reminders that teachers have personal identities beyond the classroom.
What I did know about Mrs. Chambers are these things:
She had been widowed for almost 30 years by the time I met her, losing her husband in an Air Force training accident.
She was missing the tip of her middle finger on one hand and would tell us she lost it in a paper-cutter accident.
She taught me the phrase "close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades."
She had a beautiful laugh.
She eased us through the transition from grade school to middle school.
She made me love math as much as I loved English, at least for a time.
She made boys on the verge of adolescence cry...but in the best way...with literature. She read books to us, and if anyone would argue that this is a waste of time in the classroom, that it doesn't move the students closer to passing those all-important tests, I'm here to tell you that hearing those stories come to life in her voice made me want to be a writer. That and watching those boys put their heads down on their arms and weep for the boy and his dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows. The power she held in her voice, the power she shared with us through that book, was nothing short of magic.
Rest in Peace, Mrs. Chambers, you touched so many lives.