Last weekend I attended my high school class reunion. Never mind which year we were celebrating, just think of country roads, gravel of course, and folks milling around a big old barn that has been remodeled and has plenty of chairs and food to serve our small group. I graduated with a class of 24 students, so we often celebrate with the class ahead of us and this year was no exception. The turn-out was wonderful, there must have been 60 plus people there, spouses included. But then many of the spouses were students from one of the classes. And there is always a group that forms we like to call the "Earlville Boys." They are the ones who were brave enough to travel the nine miles to date girls from my hometown. My husband is one of those boys!
The real surprise was seeing one of my favorite people, my Aunt Shirley. She is 80 years old and in top form. She taught Jr. High math, one of my worst subjects, but I worked especially hard so she wouldn't be ashamed of me. She was an honored guest at the reunion and as the evening progressed I started hearing stories I had never heard before. The boys had been madly in love with Mrs. McDowell!
Now I too had always adored Aunt Shirley, and I used to practice tip-toeing around in my mom's heels pretending to be Aunt Shirley making her way down the school hallways. She was my idol, she was graceful and full of smiles, quite different from many of our other teachers. But the boys? I had been so busy trying to be a good student and not get into trouble because somehow my mom would find out and well, all hell would break out if I messed up and Aunt Shirley would be sooooo disappointed in me .... you get the idea!
Mrs. McDowell was everyone's favorite teacher in Jr. High. It's taken nearly 40 years for me to realize that. And I thought I was observant!
Mrs. McDowell did two things that evening that will stick in my mind.
1. She brought a math problem with her - one of those crazy twisted, mind-bending questions that only a genius could figure out - which someone did! She was very proud!
2. She handed out little "survival bags" to each of her students. She called them survival bags to make it through old age. I'll give you a taste of what she put in our survival bags: a match stick - to spark up our life - and to get something going. In other words, don't become stagnant, keep growing. A needle and thread - to sew up old wounds, patch up mishaps in order to stay healthy. Animal crackers - nourishment doesn't need to be fancy, simple works and brings the child out in us. And my favorite, a button - some things need closing, most often it's our mouth!
So with that advice fresh in my mind, I will button it up for now!
Til next time ~