| My mother salvaged an old desk from a dilapidated school which I had attended, painted the desk, and painted a picture of the remains of the school. The picture hangs on my wall; the desk sits in my corner. And, I remember. Sixth-seventh-grade. Mrs. Jackson. Copying selections from the dictionary. (I did learn the sounds of long and short vowels that year! I had learned to read without being exposed to diacritical markings.) I didn’t know what I was doing wasn’t really very meaningful until I became a teacher and wished for something to have the “brainy-er” students do to keep them out of my hair for a bit. The desks in that school were designed for two students sitting side by side so the ink well was in the middle of the desk. I cheated one time, one time only that I remember. No – hold the applause – it was no great honor that I didn’t cheat, I just didn’t think I needed to. I thought I was smart enough without cheating. I did become a Christian, about that time, and looked at cheating as sin, so I chose to study hard. Back to how I cheated. I looked through the ink hole to see my open geography book on the book shelf beneath. As far as I know Mrs. Jackson did not know I cheated. When I graduated high school, Mrs. Jackson helped me write my valedictory address titled as most such speeches are, “Hitch your Wagon to a Star.” Not very original, but very short. I was very limited on my ability to write any kind of composition—but long on my ability to copy pages from the dictionary! Mrs. Jackson probably came to see me on my big night; I remember little except that I was petrified to speak before my class of twenty-four graduates and all their families.
All that does not sound like a very great salute for Mrs. Jackson. So why did I think of her when I think of mentors. One lesson she taught me hit fertile soil. I think these were her exact words, “You can do anything you want to do, as long as you choose to do right.” Thanks, Mrs. Jackson, I received two lessons in that one statement. One, I must choose “right” in order to achieve my dreams, and two, I had the ability to do what I wanted to do. And, Mrs. Jackson, if you happen to be tuned to my earthly existence, you won’t be surprised that I love grammar but I’d like you to look at my blog. I have learned to put words together in meaningful ways—composition!
I want to pay tribute to wonderful people I have known, the wonderful country in which I live, the communities in which I have lived, the churches who have claimed me as their own, the God who sends shivers down my back when I really give him a portion of my time—well, maybe not shivers but tears flow easily in some of those most priceless times.
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