I retire from teaching this week. I’ve been clearing out my space at school and came upon some notes and messages from my days as a teacher at Allen and Edison and West View that have brought tears to my eyes – I’m getting all choked up here. I have been blessed with such wonderful students in my career – kind and courageous and dear. I want to share some of what I’ve found this week – I want my students to know that their notes and kind words and art have stayed with me and meant a lot to me. I’ll never forget you.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
– Dr. Seuss
This week I’ve found myself being conscious of all the “lasts” – the last time I’ll ever do an algebra problem with a student; the last time I’ll do symmetrical art with a student; the last time I’ll teach a student how to recognize when a paragraph can be split into two; the last time I’ll talk about trench warfare, and the drummer boys in the Civil War, and why civilizations start around rivers; the last time I’ll say good-bye to my students at the end of a school year…
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the (music) abideth for ever.
– paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1
Mom asked me if I’d like to go downstairs and listen to the music program in their retirement place with her. I thought this was a fine idea. Dad was taking a nap and she asked me to wake him so he could join us. I went in and kissed his forehead. His eyes blinked a couple times and opened. He saw me and smiled. “Hi, neighbor!” he said. I asked him if he wanted to go downstairs and listen to music with Mom and me and he thought this would be a great way to spend some time.
The music was fun – songs I’d never heard before. The residents all seemed to be familiar with the lyrics and sang along with some of the tunes.
It occurred to me, then, that in maybe 10 or 20 years the music that will be blasting out of retirement homes will be The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Petty, The Beatles, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Hollies… and the idea of that cracked me up.
“Who shall declare this generation?” Who shall decide what truth and love are?
– Mary Baker Eddy