Friday, June 1, 2012

What We Do Matters

Today was a remarkable day. 

Teachers wonder often if what we do makes a difference.  Probably most people do.  Today we got validated.  Both of us, Jed and I. 

Teachers spend their lives opening up to hundreds, if not thousands of children during a long career.  Day after day trying to see into a child and know their needs.  Day after day knowing that with just a little more effort, a little more understanding, a little more patience, a little more encouragement, a little more faith...a child might grasp. 

Through the years the faces and the stories begin to blurr, and then only a few stand out in that weary teacher's mind.  They're remembered because they are remarkable.  My handful of memories are the boys, the ones who didn't fit, the ones who wanted to sing, but were forbidden, the ones who screamed and thrashed in a world only they were in, the ones who loved trains more than lunch.  I tried to make their lives mold.  I tried to mold to them.  I sang with them, and restrained them when the world around them was too ugly.  Never knowing if it mattered. 

But today, one of those boys walked up to me as a man and told me I made a difference.  I hugged him, even though he resisted, and we talked ever so briefly about from whence we've both come and to where we hope to go.  I felt rich.  He left behind a note, "thank you, from the bottom of my heart."  I was validated.  The validating moment was brief, and life went on, but I will always be different because of that visit. 

The work day was over and I came home to our life.  On my desk was a small package from our neice who has recently graduated.  I didn't open it right away, because I was quite sure it would be a picture, and even though I would enjoy that, there seemed no hurry. 

As the day wore on, I opened the letter and package.  My brother's granddaughter, who we have seen only at family reunions, had written a book!  Really, a real book!  Stuff I dream of!  A book.  And she acknowledged her Uncle Jed.  I mean, even her dad or grandparents weren't officially acknowledged, but Jed was.  I cried.  Rachael remembered.  Family reunions would be wrought with many a memory, but Rachael's included Jed's remarkable stories he would tell to the gathered clan.  She remembered his character and gave him printed credit as the. "storyteller."   He too, was validated today. 

What we do does make a difference.  We don't know when, or with who, or even how.  I suppose if we did we'd become terribly hard to live with, but as long as we're doing the stuff that good people do, we will make a difference.  And, if we a lucky, one day, we will learn just what it was. 

1 comment:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes, Sherry! I'm so glad you both know what a difference you've made, because for every one who gets the chance to say thanks, there are 100 or more out there.