Dear Mom,

Just wanting to keep you tuned into the outside world and what’s happening as a result of the Coronavirus. Jessie’s dance company is not able to offer classes, rehearse and perform because people can’t be near each other during this time. Nathaniel’s climbing wall where he works is also shut down because no one can enter an entertainment facility due to the threat of germs spreading. Everything that draws a crowd or entails close contact is closed. You may remember that this time of year we love to come over and watch the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, “March Madness” on your TV with you but that isn’t happening either. Your oldest grandson, Caleb is holed up in his tenth floor apartment working on his projects from his computer and eating “tomatoe based” foods that he is preparing himself. Lots of time for everyone to work on upping their culinary skills. All schools are closed and The Greenhouse School where I taught for years, has quickly shifted their classes to computer platforms like Zoom, or recording lessons and posting the links on the computer for students to watch. These are new days in education. I just talked to dad on the phone and he said, “I couldn’t be in school today because I don’t know how to work the computer.”

Imagine what it would be like to teach under these circumstances? Nathaniel’s drum set teacher is collaborating their drum lessons on-line and that doesn’t sound pretty because the delay in the transmission makes the music sounds like mashed potatoes whirring in your Kitchen Aid mixer. We listened to Caleb play a Chopin piece on the piano the other night via FaceTime, (on our phones), but the it sounded like Schroeder’s piano from the Charlie Brown comic strip -plink, plink, plink, plunk. Nonetheless, technology is what’s keeping the world running right now and even I, can only be grateful.

Think back to your days teaching first grade at Willard School in River Forest.

You were using a chalkboard, books and workbooks for everything. Your classroom didn’t have a computer. I believe you used the “mimeograph” machine to crank out copies, turning the handle while vinegar smelling purple ink spilled over the pages and you walked down the hall to the main office to use it. Charlie prints these letters to you in his office and walks a few steps to pull them out of the printer. I love the picture in your wedding album of you standing with several of your students. We still laugh at how one of those little boys looks like Caleb’s good friend, Tate. 

You loved teaching and that is one of the reasons you are a great mom and grandmother. Before any kids came into your life, you already loved to teach —especially snot-running nosed, crooked teethed, little kids. Mr. Clum (principal of W.C.G.S.) once said to me that, “early childhood teachers are a special breed.” That makes you a special breed and how we benefited! 

Without preaching, everything proved an opportunity to learn. Counting the steps up to our first apartment in Oak Park taught me numbers and you stood patiently as I knocked on the doors of residents on each floor for a visit, a flaming extroverted toddler. We traveled to stream-side and country field picnics and you taught us about grass, trees, rainbows, photosynthesis, refraction of light, how things grow – What Shall I Put in This Hole That I Dig?—a favorite Golden Book. You laid the foundation of the Bible in our souls with stories and songs and sat us down to watch Charlton Heston part the waters of the Red Sea, scary!

As in so many families, the gift of teaching passes down the line. I’ve taught writing and literature for many years, Jessie teaches ballet, Nathaniel teaches kids how to play drums and climb steep rocks, Caleb teaches his piano teacher Karol Sue how to use technology because she now must teach her piano students using available technology. Because of the virus they can’t meet in her piano studio until things clear up.

Thank you for being a loving, patient, informed, wise teacher. In your memory care wing you are the only one who knows all the words to the songs. Keep teaching those words to the other residents.

Sing time in Memory Care with our friend Hannah

Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Your gift of teaching is a joy forever and it’s a part of your legacy that lives on.

With gratitude and love,