June 29, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)
After years of teaching 150 students each year, it is impossible to remember every one. However, some teaching memories linger because of a special spark, intelligence, creativity, misbehavior, a single incident, kindness, a comment or even a note.
I remember one 9th grader from the early 70’s who had an insatiable well of questions, a drive to find answers, a passion for connection and learning, an affinity for humor and a talent for all of these. When she wrote, she led readers to explore nuances, and when she spoke, her honesty was evident but you knew there was more. I always wondered how such a teenager came from an unsupportive family background. And I continued to wonder what adult she had become. Sometimes I searched online, but the chances were slim of finding a woman with the surname of Kelley that had not been changed in marriage.
Serendipity and not technology brought answers. One day in Costco, I heard a voice call out, “Mrs. Caples!” (My past alias.) I turned toward the woman’s voice. “You were one of my favorite teachers.” How could she have recognized me after so many years? When she told me her name, of course I remembered her—one of my nicest students. I gave her my card, received a Facebook friend invitation, joined a Facebook group for Ben Franklin Junior High and asked if anyone knew how to get in touch with Darlene Kelley. Someone responded with information that led me to a Reverend Kelley in upstate New York.
After all these years, Darlene Kelley and I reconnected and it is obvious that all her special qualities have grown stronger with age. “You don’t know what a difference you have made in my life,” she told me yesterday with a catch in her voice. With a catch in my typing fingers this moment, I say that her words make a difference to me.
My gift today is a tribute.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~You can find links to my other posts on this project here: