Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Truly Beautiful People

There are so many wonderful stories I could tell about my students at Canterbury ... also a few that I can't tell, either (those little angels!). Every now and then I run into one of my former students and find out all the wonderful things that they have done with their lives. At least two (that I know of) are regular readers of I Was Born Very Young ... Wendy and Ellie ... and I love hearing from them from time to time. I can't understand why they would want to read my stuff anymore ... I was sure they would have been tired of listening to me by now ... but I love them for it.

I'll share two other stories about my former students:

About ten years ago, I ran into Christina, who was touring All Children's Hospital (my subsequent employer) with the Junior League. I hadn't seen her in more than 20 years but recognized her immediately.

"Christina? Is that you?"
"Yes, Mr. Momberg. It's great to see you." She kept her eyes averted shyly.
"You don't have to call me Mr. Momberg anymore."
"Okay, Mr. Mom ... um ... "
"Call me Joel."
"Yes sir."
Well ... I gave up on the informalities and stuck with conversations about old times. I told her how proud I was of her accomplishments (she was in her medical residency). And bragged about how I knew at a young age she would be a success.
She started crying.
I said, "Christina, I didn't mean to upset you ..."
"No ... I ... I have to tell you something ... something terrible ... something that's been on my mind since sixth grade."
Oh no ... I braced myself. Did she have years of therapy after having me as a teacher? Did she need intense tutoring to relearn her basic academic skills?

She took a breath. "Do you remember the day that you accused Elizabeth and I of cheating on the science test?"
I just stared ... I didn't have a clue ...
" You took us both out of class and asked us if we were cheating. I told you I wasn't cheating and Elizabeth too."
" Christina ... I ..."
" I WAS cheating ... I WAS cheating and I lied to you and you believed me."
" Christina ... it was 20 years ago ... I don't even remember."
" Oh my God ... you don't? I worried all these years for no reason???"
Amazing what you hang on to.

A few years ago I went to a one woman art show and saw Allison ... another one of my beautiful, talented students who always had a penchant for the arts. Allison had survived a serious accident years earlier when her car burst into flames and she was trapped inside. She barely escaped with her life. She underwent countless painful surgical procedures and years of physical therapy. Her outlook on life and her beautiful smile remained unscarred and her artwork is incredible. She is a true success story.

To all my beautiful former students who may be reading this ... I am so proud of all of you please stay in touch.

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