ask anyone. my nonnie was a special person. everyone loved her for her sweetness, quick wit, and sharp tongue. i lost her to cancer when i was seventeen. i still think about her nearly every day. my grandmother was definitely an amazing person.
she was also a great teacher. she taught until she retired in her sixties. she taught at an elementary school in a bad neighborhood 45 minutes from home. she never complained about it. she embraced it.
she’s one of the reasons that i chose my current teaching position. i saw through her that it was a gift AND a challenge to work with at-risk kids. i never saw her in her classroom, but i just know she was a great teacher.
when she was very sick toward the end, she still took the time to teach me the basics of art. she was a painter from childhood and even went to college for it, where she met my granddad, also an artist. her paintings (and his) are still displayed in homes and museums all over the Texas panhandle. i still see people who tell me they have one of her paintings. i have four of hers in my living and dining rooms and one of my granddad’s. they remind me of her and the time we spent alone talking about everything under the sun and at the same time experimenting with colors, shapes and techniques.
i rarely paint anymore. it brings back those bittersweet memories. and i wasn’t ever really that good. or maybe i just didn’t really try very hard. it was more about the time together. of her patiently correcting me. of her encouraging me to experiment. of her telling me stories about her life and teaching. of saying goodbye to each other in our own quiet way.
she had an incredible impact on me and everyone she met. i hope that i can have the same impact on my students.