Where I'm going with this:
Mrs. Jean Z was in fact, my kindergarten teacher, in 1969, the first of her 15 years in that school system. And this is the story of how I found out that she had passed away. It is a glurgy sort of Christmas story that mixes the speed of modern information-sharing with the ancient practice of human connection. Tell it around your turkey dinners this weekend when there is a lull in conversation.
This is not the first time I have written about this unexpected relationship, so I'll try not repeat myself and get right to the climax, blog-style.
I have a history of crushing hard on schoolteachers, which kicked off that late summer with the first of them. I had never had an adult I could have my own relationship with -- not a family member, not someone from church, but my very own grown-up who "got" me. Got me for me.
At the end of the year, she gave me a copy of Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins as a sort of graduation gift. It was a used copy, had her daughter's name right inside it, but I didn't care. She had stricken Donna's name out and written mine, in that fine round "this is how we write your name" kindergarten teacher penmanship.
Years later, as a high school newspaper editor (like Blogging... with galleys) I wrote an editorial about the giving of that book in a "please thank your teachers" theme that reinforced my Bard of the Nerds status and was a big hit in the Faculty Lounge. But I did mean every word.
Which brings us up to 10 o'clock today. And this email... from my college alumnae office.
I am forwarding this e-mail to you from [DMcG] regarding the sad news of her mother passing and her desire to get in touch with you. I will let her know that I have done so. It is up to you, of course, to respond to her at this point. I hope you are doing well and have a wonderful holiday season. If I may help in any other way, please let me know.
Sincerely, [put-upon Assistant to the Director] Alumnae Relations
And that draws in that email, written 5:30 last night:
RE: Looking for [Caroline Bender]
Hello. Sorry to use this forum, but I am looking for a [Caroline Bender]. I think she is an alumnae. When she was in high school , she wrote a column about my mother's influence on her life. This week, my mother passed away, and we read that column at her memorial. I am hoping to tell [Caroline] of the blessing she has returned to our family.
Thank you for your time.Sincerely, Donna McG--Merry Christmas from the cast and crew of Drawing In. Love ye, one another.