Memories of Romana

This was my New Year’s gift from Romana, seven years ago.  She made this bracelet for me from paper, tape and jewels.  I was invited to her house, and I was thunderstruck by the gift.

It is a treasure, and I told her, “I will wear this on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday”.  Romana beamed.  What she didn’t know at that moment is that I did, indeed, do this.  The gift isn’t about my visit to her house.  It’s about all our moments together, ‘The Hundred Little Things’.  The littlest moments, those that make you feel good inside but otherwise may seem unimportant, are really big; they’re building blocks for life.  It takes a hundred little things to manifest itself as a big thing, or I should say an important thing. The bracelet is a ‘big thing’ because it was a labor of love, which could only have happened after a hundred little things.

So, where did those hundred little things with Romana begin?

When Romana started in my preschool class, she was barely three years old.  She didn’t speak English.  Her family was from Romania, and she spoke Romanian.  Young children are far better at adapting to a new school and a new language than adults are.  Romana was quiet and kind, and she easily made friends.  I remember 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 is on the far right.  See her big smile?  She was happy.  Everyone loved Romana.

Romana loved this game of Musical Chairs.  She also loved art.

As a three-year-old she helped illustrate our classroom God Bless America book.  She was proud to draw those purple mountains.  I will forever think of Romana when I see that page in the book.  Of course, that book inspired a quilt.  Children designed the quilt, and Milly the quilter sewed it.

Romana and Milly bonded like best buddies.  The God Bless America quilt now hangs at the Fisher House in Boston.

For Romana, the hundred little things exploded with Milly the quilter.  On Milly’s birthday, Romana delivered flowers.  Every time they were together, their eyes and smiles were locked on to each other.  They didn’t talk much.  Words weren’t necessary.

Milly was visiting to finalize helping children select fabrics for our quilt.  Romana wanted to tell Milly that she was going to Romania, so we opened our big book atlas and found Romania.  This was an in-depth discussion with everyone.  We looked at how far Romania is from France (we studied France last year).  We didn’t know that Romania is on the Black Sea (did you know that?)

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.  I taught Romana’s younger sister and brother in the following years.

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.  We played.  I brought along my autoharp and a stack of picture books.

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.  My goodness!  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.  A few years ago 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!

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Death and dying, Family, Giving, Inspiration, preschool, Student alumni, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Memories of Romana

  1. beth says:

    ❤ ❤ ❤ tears

  2. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    The bracelet is beautiful and thank you for sharing the moments together and the video.

  3. Ritu says:

    This is just precious!

  4. Darlene says:

    What precious memories. Thanks so much for sharing them. Love the video.

  5. This is wonderful! I need a tissue wonderful. 🥰

  6. willedare says:

    Your posts always touch my heart and lift my spirit. Thank you!!!

  7. Dan Antion says:

    Such a mix of sadness and joy – and love!

  8. K.L. Hale says:

    Jennie, what a precious story and gift. 😭This is all that matters in life! ❣️🙏🏻

  9. Wow! What sweet memories! I saw title and read the post because it reminded me of Romania, where I chose to spend one of my summers during one of the times I took my summer off. It is such a beautiful little country! I find it interesting that you got so close to Romana and her family! I don’t see that kind of relationship much any more so this post tugs at the heart strings, especially with life and living in one place being so impermanent, even with lovely Romana growing!

  10. quiall says:

    Some people touch us ways that cannot be defined. But you have touched her as much as she has touched you. And I think you both are the better for it. I am so pleased you shared!

  11. Beautiful 😍 it is amazing how quickly connections are made! It must of felt good to be part of an important segment of her life.

  12. Such special memories! (And a very pretty handmade bracelet!!)

  13. srbottch says:

    A wonderful story, Jennie. I bet they come back to visit sometime. And, of course, they’ll never forget you.

  14. So lovely. Sorry you weren’t there but now you have a video! Sad and glad!

  15. Ah, the wonders of love… Beautiful! 💞

  16. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderful post, the bracelet and the video at the end say it all.

    and that does sound like a fun way to play musical chairs…

  17. joylennick says:

    Such a heart-warming story, You are a special teacher. Hugs xx

  18. beetleypete says:

    That exchange of cultures is what made Amerca from the start. Let’s hope the current animosity felt by some people in your country (and mine) soon becomes a bad memory.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  19. I love this story. Thanks for sharing it again.

  20. Don Ostertag says:

    Such a wonderful story, Jennie.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t send the piece through WordPress, but I can sent it as a “gift” through email. You can send your email to me at my email, betsyfrompike@earthlink.net and I will send you the piece.

  22. What a heart-warming story.

  23. Carla says:

    Beautiful, just beautiful. I love reading your heartwarming stories, Jennie.

  24. petespringerauthor says:

    I think you’ve shared this remarkable story before. How precious that you were there for your student at the funeral. I’m sure wearing that bracelet meant everything to Romana. It is about the little hundred things as that’s how we build connections with our students.

    • Jennie says:

      The bracelet part was from one of my first blog posts, in January of 2015, although that post included more, like the grandparents. Then, after Horea died I wrote another post. I’ll never forget that funeral. This post has even more. So, it was a bit of gluing together a full story.

      Yes, the hundred little things! The bracelet eventually fell apart, as it was paper. I wonder if it meant more to Romana or more to me.

      Mom sent me an updated photo of the children. I hope she lets Romana read the blog post. She must be 14 now.

  25. CarolCooks2 says:

    Tissue time again this is lovely..you are such a special teacher Jennie x

  26. A very heartwarming story. The bracelet will always be a wonderful memory of Romana.

  27. The family has never forgotten your kindness, Jennie. What a heartfelt story!

  28. Americaoncoffee says:

    Precious!

  29. Oh, that is so special. Good to see them happy and confident after all they’ve been through. The bracelet is beautiful!

  30. bosssybabe says:

    So sweet! 💓💓💓 I see myself in Ramona, I was a quiet and timid girl at that young age… I remember in grade school one of my teachers wrote on my report card “in her own quiet way, she inspires her peers.” That always stuck with me.. I felt seen. 🙂

  31. Norah says:

    Such a touching story, Jennie. And a beautiful gift of a bracelet made from the heart.

  32. I am so glad I had a chance to read this while I was all alone so no one would see me weep. There are so many emotions here. A family struggling for a better life only to get hit with such loss. There was so much caring and love sharing all the way around. I am delighted to hear you are still being kept in touch and included in the good the family is still finding. I hope Romana is still finding an artistic outlet in her life. What a sweet testament to all the moments in life that connect us. You are a blessing to those you connect with, Jennie. Loved reading this.

    • Jennie says:

      What beautiful words you write, Marlene! Yes, this is one happening over the years I will cherish. Romana is now 14 (how did that happen?) I do hope she finds an artistic outlet. Her mother makes floral arrangements. Once she made a spectacular bouquet of flowers for Milly the quilter. So many good memories…

  33. dgkaye says:

    Another heartwarming event Jennie. You are so loved and appreciated. ❤

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