It’s my birthday today. I always think back on my life during this time. Today I had to reminisce about my childhood. I didn’t have a fairytale childhood-but you would think that I did. My memories are full of all the good things and people God has brought into my life. I love my family-my husband is amazing-my hero. My children are my heartbeat. But-today-I want to thank my fourth grade teacher and Facebook. I know Facebook can be a resident evil and it takes a lot of self-discipline to interact on Facebook-the reason why my children do not have a Facebook and they won’t until they are 30–But Facebook can bring people together that would have been lost to each other in a pre-technology based world. So–today–a story.
I was in the fourth grade. My family had just moved into the housing project in Decatur, Illinois. I don’t remember the name of the apartments. I was barely 9 years old. That would have put us back into the 1970’s-early 1970’s-in case you want to guess my age. I can’t remember a lot about school before this point. We had moved from California-back to Illinois-to Texas-back to Illinois-and in several different homes, once back in Illinois. This was just another move. It was normal for me. I didn’t attach myself to friends-I only remember playing tether ball during recess. I remember not liking school work. I never cared about doing well. No one else cared-so why should I? It never bothered me-I just didn’t care and I didn’t pay attention in class. Now I was in a new school-again-and I was the only white girl in the class. I can be politically correct and say caucasian. I was used to growing up with the black kids. I didn’t know prejudice. I only noticed it this particular year because I was the minority. This was the 1970’s-race riots were happening. Because of where we lived-we were right in the middle of it.
I started school with the same attitude as in years past. It was harder now. I couldn’t hide counting on my fingers-not knowing my multiplication tables. I started to fear school now. I was chased home most days home from school. My friend, Dennis, would hold back Leroy, so I could get a head start running home. Funny-how I remember their names. My teacher that year was Mrs. Saunches. She was the anchor that kept me from being lost at sea. She gave me so much attention. A class full of students and I remember her giving me so much one on one-then she told us about a contest. She would pick 4 students to go with her to the zoo. The requirements-try your very best. Not-get an A on the math test or spelling test-but try your best. That was just what I needed. I wanted to do my best. I am not sure if it was for the zoo-or just to go someplace with Mrs. Saunches. I did try-but I also failed a lot. I didn’t think there was any way she would pick me-but she did. That was a turning point for me-I don’t remember going to the zoo. The only thing I remember about that day was that I was with Mrs. Saunches. She even took us to her house. I don’t remember why. I remember seeing a picture of her and her husband. That was engrained into my mind. I didn’t have a dad and to see a picture of a happy couple made an impact on me.
We moved again. My life did change. I started to care about school. I started to care about learning and remembering Mrs. Saunches. She was only in my life for that short school year-I can’t even remember if it was the whole school year-but she made a difference. I was never able to tell her what a difference she had made in my life.
During my senior year in high school, we had a new PE teacher. His name was Mr. Saunches. I asked him shyly one day if his wife was a teacher too. He said yes-but I still wasn’t sure it was her. I graduated and moved on.
Fast forward — to about a six weeks ago. I saw posted on my Facebook account an invitation to my High School Class Reunion. It had listed the names of those attending. I saw Mr. Saunches. I clicked on his page-and I saw her-Mrs. Saunches. I knew this was my chance to tell her. I wrote her a note and asked her to be my friend. I didn’t expect her to remember me-but she did. I am sure she doesn’t remember all the things that I remember-those are all normal things for her. She cares about her students-I can still see that on Facebook.
So-on my birthday-I want to thank Mrs. Saunches. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for making a difference. God placed you in my life at just the time I needed. Thank you.