Though I wasn’t in the mood to read any of the serious stuff, I decided to glance through the daily paper last night before I went to bed. I just wanted to peruse briefly to see if there was anything I wouldn’t want to miss. I often do that - just to catch the local stuff. For me, the local paper is more often a way to connect with old friends and acquaintances than anything. It’s not often I find people and events of days gone by, but when I do it is such a treat. It’s simply a way to remember things the way they used to be in the town I grew up, and I like that.
I’m glad I looked through our paper on this day. Submitted under "Milestone Announcements" was a photo of my old high school geometry teacher and his wife. They had just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. I was so happy to have seen this. I had just been thinking of Mr. M. and wondering if he was still alive. I remember the exact class room he held his classes at the old high school. It is now a middle school, I believe. I remember the row I sat in, and the seat I called mine, directly across from the door. I must have been planning an escape out this door a time or two, to remember it this vividly. And I remember Mr. M. at the head of the class talking to the students as he looked out at us over his little black readers. I loved Mr. M. though I wouldn’t say he was one of the “popular” teachers in high school. He didn’t even get credit for being one of the “good” teachers; at least among the students. But he should have.
I was a whiz at algebra when I was in 9th grade. I don’t think I ever got a grade lower than 99 on my report card. I even once got a 100%. Obviously, my algebra teacher was a great teacher, too; but other than that, algebra just came easy for me. So because of my high grades in that class, I got put in the “high honors” geometry class in 10th grade. It wasn’t long before Mr. M. and I both knew I didn’t belong there. I hated geometry and I really struggled with it. I remember Mr. M. coming to me one day and saying he understood what had happened; just because I did well in Algebra didn’t mean I would do well in geometry. To Mr. M.’s credit, he told me he would work with me and help me whenever I needed it. He may have mentioned sending me to the lower level class - I don’t remember for sure – but I don't think that happened, because I’m pretty sure I sat next to the “smart girl” the rest of the year. Because of that slight memory, I think “we” (Mr. M and I) just toughed it out for the rest of the year. I ended up with grades in the low 80’s…may have hit the high 70’s one quarter, but I never failed, thanks to Mr. M.
Over the years, (It has been 40 since that 10th grade class!) I have periodically run into Mr. M. My folks used to go to the same church he and his wife attended. And he would come into the art gallery where I worked from time to time. He always knew who I was, and he always had a little memory to relay to me. He would without fail, steadfastly try to talk me into coming back to our old church. I look at that photo today, and memories flood into tears. What a smile he has on his face! So happy he seems. That is exactly how I remember Mr. M. It may sound silly, but I’m proud of him! He is a wonderful example of a life well-lived and a job well-done and I treasure every memory I have of him. What a guy!