Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mrs. Rackaway

Now days it's rare to find good teachers.
Oh, sure, there are plenty that show up
for work everyday,
mingle with the kids,
attend all the school events
and allow extra credit projects.

But once in a great while
there will be a teacher that changes your life-
that opens heavy doors
and breathes fresh air into stale learning.
A teacher that can mold your heart
without being forceful or contrived.
A teacher who earns your respect
and gains your gratitude.

I was lucky to have such a teacher.
Mrs. Rackaway first taught my third grade class.
She was pretty-
silver haired and with a golden voice-
and a laugh that grew contagious.
She was neither selfish or condescending-
but always an exciting bubble
of new thoughts and things to share.

I had her again when she moved
to fifth grade home room.
Here she taught us the magic of books-
of creative writing-
On cold, dreary afternoons
she read stories to us
that still waver
like colorful music inside my brain.
We wanted to be there-
in the belly of those books-
to experience it fully-
to feel the raindrops and rainbows
and dust and devils and
sweaty skin and
loss and love and
and oceans of lavender....

I knew her outside of school, too.
But she was still Mrs. Rackaway.
No first names--
Still can't bring myself to call her Maxine.

Her daughter Gwen was
one of my best childhood friends
and my sister and I
spent lots of time at her house.
There was always Dr.Pepper,
Frito's, and Grey Poupon.
And a big walk in closet full of books.
She had rose flowered china,
bamboo lounge furniture
and a shiny grand piano.
She wore garden gloves
to tend her flowers
and carried a little spade.
She drove an old black Mercury
and golfed at the country club.
She wore Bermuda shorts
and nice white tennis shoes
around the house.
And she was always smiling.

But time eventually took her away from us.
She died last week at the age of 90.

But to me-
she will always be young-
standing at her old oak desk-
full of vigor and truth and treasures.
She will always be the teacher
that a stuck a chord in my heart
and caused my world to sing.

Like cherished gems,
I still carry with me all that she taught-
and that is something
even time
can never take away.