We had guests for dinner the other night. And always when I spread the cloth over my table, I think of Scott. The cloth is ecru with cut-work that outlines the softest beige flowers. It’s a beautiful cloth, but precious because of the story behind it.
There’s always a story, isn’t there?
But this one reminds me of the blessings of being a teacher, the joy that relationships with students bring…and linger more than forty years.
In those days I taught sixth grade, a fascinating age, the kids were at the top of the heap in our school, feeling their oats, amazed at how they’d grown and how small the younger ones were.
But sometimes life wasn’t all that easy. And maybe Scott wasn’t having an easy time; he didn’t give me such an easy time. Sometimes he was angry, and once, he banged his books on his desk and walked out of the classroom.
In June, I said goodbye to them with some sadness. They said goodbye to me with glee; they were middle schoolers now. I walked the three blocks home thinking about those kids that were mine for a year.
September came, another year, another group of kids, a new beginning. But late afternoon, I sat at my kitchen table, marking papers, when the doorbell rang.
Scott stood there, scowling a little. “I’m having trouble with math.”
“Come in,” I said.
Even now, all these years later, I think about that moment with such nostalgia, such joy.
He came almost every day. We sat at the table, going over the problems, doing the work, until he was sure of it, sure of himself.
And the tablecloth? A gift from his parents, his mother holding out the package, both of us smiling, thinking about the courage he’d had to ring my bell that fall afternoon.
I love having the tablecloth, I treasure the memory it holds. I’m so grateful for the belief that dear stormy child had in me.
I wonder where he is now, as I do about so many of my students. I think about them, wishing I could know what happened to them, how their lives evolved. I wonder if they remember me. I hope so.