I have only one photo of children in my class beside my computer. One.
Meet, left to right, Maddy, Allison, Olivia, Sophie, and Sarah. These children are now in college, and still it is my favorite photo. I have a big collection of precious photos that mean the world to me. Yet, this is this one. A picture speaks a thousand words.
It was taken at a party at Sarah’s house. Each child brought their favorite book (including me) to read and share. We had a grand time! I still recognize the books from the photo.
I have kept in touch with all of these children over the years. All except Olivia. That changed yesterday.
Olivia had a Nanny, Linda, who often dropped off and picked her up at school. While I got to know Olivia’s parents, I also got to know Linda. It was friendly and cordial. Then Olivia moved on to kindergarten and public school. We didn’t keep in touch.
Yesterday I bumped into Linda at the local hardware store. She recognized me immediately. Her year had been consumed with health issues, moving, and change. The bright spot for Linda was an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner from Olivia’s family. It had been many years since she and Olivia had seen each other.
As Linda described the greeting, full of hugs and smiles, I saw her eyes sparkle. Joy. Olivia is now a lovely, grownup young lady. This reunion meant the world to Linda.
We briefly reminisced about school and Olivia, way back when. Linda then reached out and took my arm. She had words to say, and her conversation went something like this:
Jennie, I want to tell you I remember you teaching. I used to watch you when I came into school. You were different.
“Different”, she said. Linda was serious.
I watched you with the children and I learned from you. I did. You helped me. I want you to know that.
“Thank you, Linda” was all I could say. She smiled, the kind of smile that comes from letting words go that have been stored inside for a long time. I snapped her picture, and wished her and Olivia a Happy New Year.