Saturday, June 11, 2011


Gone. Absent. Missing. Retired. Well, that last one isn't me it's my Mom. I'm in my home town, sleeping in the bed I grew up in- literally. The house is starting to smell like an old person's home. But I guess that's what happens when your parents get old.

Twenty years is a long time. To do one thing. I'm finding it hard to do any one thing for more than half an hour, like weeding. It's good to keep that in short spurts. So, I'm very proud of my mother. She started teaching math in my high school during my senior year. If you do the math, because I know you're better at it than I am, you'll know I'm celebrating my 20th high school reunion this summer. Eee gad.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to speak at my Mother's retirement party last night, which is fine because I'm not the one who has spent the majority of the last 20 years with her. But if I could have this is what I would have said:

I thought it would be fun to give you a picture of my mother before she was a teacher, although she has always been a teacher in some way. I'm still baffled about how my parents, who are two very left brained people could breed a right brain child. I mean my brother is left brained too, far far left brained. So I was an even more shaggier black sheep in the family than most black sheep. I hated math. I loved writing. So when I was a young girl I wrote my mom many a crappy poem, and she taught me the times tables. And as I wrote my mom many a crappy short story, she taught me long division. And when I made her these beautiful heartfelt homemade cards (which always made her cry) she taught me how to balance a checkbook. Please don't tell her I do all my banking on-line now.

My mother was an accountant before becoming a teacher. She has always loved numbers. My father built her an office in the basement. She would spend hours down there with books and pencils and paper and pens and calculators. It was an awful space with a drop ceiling and florescent lighting. The only time I remember spending down there was on the night that my appendix was about to burst and I was rolling around on the floor in pain, trying to convince my mother that I was really sick. She kept working, telling me that I was fine and that I just had the flu. She kept working until I told her that I was going to drive myself to the hospital.

I'm glad I got my mother out of the office that night and I'm glad (and I'm sure many of her students are glad) that she decided to get herself out of that office.

My mother is not done working with numbers. There are inches to measure on quilt squares, and stitches to count on alpaca hats that need to be knit, and 1/4 cups to be measured as she bakes with my children. And there is definitely my daughter's math homework she needs to help her with. Because I can't do it.

Mom, I'm so very proud of you. My only wish for you for the next 20 years is that you don't have anymore insubordinate students and bureaucratic crap to deal with and that you continue to teach us all about how to live this thing called life, with its numbers and all.

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