A sudden departure

This week I was prompted by Mama Kat to share a story from the fourth grade.

I liked Menudo in the fourth grade. You know, that Puerto Rican boy band that gave Ricky Martin his first big role? Don’t laugh. I know some of you liked them, too.

I also liked Stevie Wonder and Wham! and the Karate Kid.

It was 1984.

A family member reminded me that the last time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series was in 1984. But I don’t remember that.

President Reagan was in charge. I remember wondering about the chances of a nuclear war. Americans were scared of the Soviet Union. That’s basically my entire recollection of world history in the year one thousand and eighty four.

But in exploring this question of a personal memory from the fourth grade, one came to mind immediately.

My fourth grade teacher quit on us at some point late in the school year. She was cranky most of the time, and probably for good reason, though that didn’t seem relevant at the time of her departure.

During the annual book fair, I was reprimanded for looking at the “older kids” books in the library. I wanted to read those books, and in fact, I did read those books. Still, I was mortified when a well-intended volunteer (a mom) guided me to a more age-appropriate selection of books.

Rumor had it that our teacher had a nervous breakdown forcing her to resign from her position. I have absolutely no idea if this is true, and at the time, I had absolutely no idea what a “nervous breakdown” meant. But it sounded bad. Really bad.

It was the first time I realized that my teacher had a life that existed beyond the classroom.

There were other elements to grown-up life that I had yet to contemplate or understand. When she left suddenly, a long-term substitute teacher appeared in her place, and I was given reason to wonder about her life outside the classroom for the very first time.

If memory serves, then this tired, cranky woman wasn’t a mean person or an unskilled teacher. In fact, I learned as much from her as any of my other teachers. I don’t know why she left or where she is today, but I hope she found peace and healing in the transition of leaving.

Sometimes one does have to leave in order to move forward.

It is in the journey that we acquire knowledge, strength, and truth.

Mama’s Losin’ It


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