Dedication: This story should be dedicated to Mrs. Moore.
It was a September evening in 1968 when two men dressed in their military dress blues knocked on the door of our home. I remember it like it was yesterday. They came to tell us that my father’s plane had crashed, just three miles short of the runway, in Thailand, returning from a mission over Vietnam. They say he was pinned beneath the wreckage and had died instantly. I had just celebrated my seventh birthday two weeks prior.
I didn’t handle the news well at all. I can remember crying and hiding under the kitchen table, refusing to go to school. In my seven year-old brain, I was afraid my mom would die if I went to school because that’s how my dad had died. Enter Mrs. Maxine Moore, my second grade teacher. Knowing what I know now, I would have to say that Mrs. Moore was a trauma-responsive teacher before that was even an initiative in education. Every day, as my mom would pull up to the school, Mrs. Moore would be at the door, waiting for me. She would take me down to the classroom and give me odd jobs to do just to help me get acclimated before the rest of the class would come into the room. Eventually, it became easier for me to come to school. That could be where the story ends. It is not.
My mom remarried and we moved to a farm a couple of hours away from the city we were living in. My mom kept our dentist in the city. When we would go to our dental appointments, we always met Mrs. Moore for a milk shake or soda after those appointments. Mrs. Moore even came to my high school graduation! The story still continues!
When I graduated from high school, I decided to go to college, to become a teacher, back in the city where Mrs. Moore lived. In true Mrs. Moore fashion, she would invite me to her home to talk about what I was learning. If I didn’t go home for the weekend, I was always invited to Sunday dinner. If I needed a quiet place to study, I would go to her home. Her kind and compassionate continued throughout my years in college. Mrs. Moore continues to live through me in every classroom I have been blessed to work in over the past thirty-eight years. I strive to show each of my students that same level of love that Mrs. Moore showed that same sad and scared little girl all those years ago.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of the storyteller.