Romana was from Romania. She was the kindest little girl. She spoke very little English, yet she clearly enjoyed school. She is the child on the far right with the biggest smile.
I remember the day I took this photo. We were playing a game of Musical Chairs. In my version, every time the music stops I take away a chair. Children have to find a lap of another child to sit on. When we get down to two or three chairs, it is a scramble. The squeals and laughing say it all.
Romana loved this game. She also loved art. As a three-year-old she helped illustrate our classroom God Bless America book.
Romana was a born giver. She noticed everything. She loved Milly the Quilter.
The following year her younger sister, Stefana, was in my class. She was a delight. Then their little brother, Vlad, joined school. I loved these children.
I learned much about family traditions and culture in Romania. When Romana was five or six, she went to Romania – alone – to spend much of the summer with her grandparents. They only spoke Romanian.
And then the unthinkable happened. Their father became sick with cancer and died in a relatively short period of time. His mother came to America from Romania to see her son before he died. I went to their house to take care of the children so the adults could have some time together. That was so sad!
I will never forget the funeral. I’d never been to a Greek Orthodox funeral. It was formal, with an open casket. Children were in a playroom downstairs, yet Romana came into the sanctuary, saw me, and climbed up onto my lap for much of the funeral. She was fine. I held it together.
Over the next few years I visited, always bringing my autoharp and a stack of books. We played, sang, danced, and read stories. It was delightful.
Time moves on and so do children and their families. Last week the family stopped by school to say hello and goodbye, as they are moving out of town. I wasn’t there! So, they wrote messages to me on the chalkboard, and climbed up on the loft in my classroom to make me a video.
I have watched the video at least seven million times. I love you, Romana. I love your family. Thank you!