Wednesday, October 9, 2013

day 9 :: when i grow up

I met Hannah when she was in the 3rd grade.  She is one of those kids, the kind of student who finds that special place in your heart and you know they will stay there for a long time.  Hannah was an overall great student, smart, funny, talented.  I have no doubt she will be that "best all around" kinda kid when she is in high school.

I had the privilege of teaching Hannah for 3 years, not because she was help back but because I looped with her and her class for 3 years.  Yep, 540 days of memories with those kiddos.  Hannah was the mother of our classroom.  And that is what I loved most about her, her heart for the kids that struggled or were the outcasts.  She would find them and check in with them.  Asking them if they had done their nightly reading, did they write down their homework for the night, why did they make that stupid decision to yell out during class.  She took care of them, she took care of us.  She was just that kind of kid.

And then I met her mom and I totally knew why Hannah was the way she was.  When I first met Gayle she was known as the lollipop lady.  She would come to school on Friday afternoons and deliver lollipops to the kiddos.  They loved seeing her and honestly, I did too!  She always had a smile on her face.  And not a fake, I'm only smiling because I am in a school and you should be happy kind of smile.  It was genuine.  She was just that kind of lady.  When she brought Hannah into meet the teacher night, I knew we would have an instant connection and we did.  Gayle and I formed a friendship that was so dear to me.  She became a part of my family.  She stood up for me when other parents didn't understand the choices I was making in class, she showered me with love and handmade gifts, she called just to check on me and always let me know that she was getting tickets to Wicked when it came to Charlotte so I could join in on the fun.  We shared Hannah's successes, we planned class parties and fun snacks.  Gayle was that kind of parent.  She adored Hannah, supported Hannah and taught Hannah to always think of others.  Honestly, I used to tell people that I wanted to be Gayle Lowder when I grew up!

Yesterday, I visited Gayle at the local Hospice house.  You see several years ago, Gayle let me know that the cancer that had been in remission, had come back.  And this time that terrible disease had taken over.  The diagnosis wasn't great, but Gayle never flinched.  After sharing this news with me, she immediately wanted to know what kind of party we wanted to have for the next holiday.  Even in the hardest time of her battle of cancer, Gayle was always thinking of others.  She never missed a Green Room performance her daughter was in and in fact was always there making costumes, painting sets. When I would ask her how she was, she would always tell me she was making the most of everyday she was here.  As I held her hand yesterday, as she peacefully slept, I couldn't help but think of how many lives this precious woman had touched.  I began to tear up at the all the ways she had made my little corner of the world a brighter place.  As I listened to her daughter tell me about how she was checking in on a former student I had, I heard Gayle's heart too.

Today, Gayle's long battle with cancer ended.  And my heart just hurts.  I will miss her laugh, her smiles, her persistence, her heart for others. My heart hurts for her sweet daughter, who probably can't understand why things like this happen.  My heart hurts for her husband who stood by her side every moment of this long and hard journey.  My heart hurts of the countless people who were blessed by each encounter they had with Gayle.  And then I am reminded of her greatest legacy, her dear sweet Hannah who will continue on in this world touching people's lives just like her momma did.  Hannah will be just as giving, just as caring, just as funny, just as thoughtful because she had the best example.

Maybe one day, I will also be like Gayle when I grow up...

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea! Oh my heart aches. I am thankful that you were there for her, as a type of representative of all the people who's lives she touched from the school. I didn't know her well at all, but saw her and Hannah from the sidelines and knew that they were the kind of people to leave an impression on many.


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