Monday, February 11, 2008

Thank you, Teachers...especially Helene Bloss!

Warning: Kind of sappy today.
Author & Mrs. Helene Bloss

One hundred years from now

It will not matter what kind of car I drove,

What kind of house I lived in,

How much money I had in my bank account,

Nor what my clothes looked like.

But one hundred years from now

The world may be a little better

Because I was important

In the life of a child.

~Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

Today's blog is dedicated to my beloved 1st & 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Helene Bloss. This woman was important in my life and in the lives of the 46 years worth of students that she taught. I attended her funeral in the small unincorporated town of Briggsville this past Friday. They read the above poem and it made me cry.

Mrs. Bloss was warm and huggable and joyful and encouraging and loving...everything that you want your own child's first teacher to be. Sadly, I learned to read with those inane "Dick & Jane" books, but Mrs. Bloss
encouraged me to read more challenging (and interesting) books after conquering "D&J." She imparted wisdom to me as a child that serves me to this day, such as the following nugget: "Love many, Trust Few. Always paddle your own canoe."

Throughout the years, she was a strong presence in my life. I always received a birthday card and a Christmas card from her. She would send me occasional newsy letters about her travels and adventures. Her penmanship - even at 91 years - was always, always better than my own. She knew all of my aunts & uncles, parents and grandparents by name, and would often inquire about them. She attended my high school graduation and my brother's wedding. When my daughter was born, she sent an ornament for her first Christmas tree.

Last July, I took my own 2nd grade daughter to meet Mrs. Bloss at the assisted living home in Baraboo. Although there was 82 years of age difference, the two were immediate sweet kindred spirits. Ingrained in my memory forever, is a picture of Hannah softly brushing Mrs. Bloss' hair for a picture yet to be taken. Mrs. Bloss spoke with pride of her many visitors and asked us to sign her guest book. She pulled out old pictures of me and letters from me. I regretted that the pile wasn't thicker, as they obviously had given her great joy. As we parted, she told us that she loved us and thanked us for coming, and then said, "I can die happy now." My heart was heavy with those parting words. And, then, no more letters and no Christmas card.

I learned when I attended her funeral at the overflowing Church, that she had been special to many former students. Briggsville's population of 60, swelled to triple that size during visitation for Mrs. Bloss. I'm sure that these other former students must also feel the incredible loss that I feel, for there is one less person in the world who loves me unconditionally and who always remembered and thought of me and prayed for me, even when I wasn't the greatest visitor or correspondent. And, sadly there won't be anymore cards or letters in the that fabulous penmanship that I have known since first grade.

Here's the thing...the thing that makes my heart ache. When this beautiful soul, this extraordinary woman, looked at me at the age of 40, I felt as if she still saw me as that little 1st grade girl with all of my yet undiscovered great potential inside. She saw me as the person who I wanted to be - instead of the person I was. She made me feel like I could do anything. Good teachers have that gift.

I am blessed to have been loved by her for nearly 33 years. I know why she was special to me...I'm just not so sure why I was so special to her.

So here's the thing...

Thank your child's teacher today. Thank them for everything that they are and for all that they are teaching your children - not just knowledge - what they are teaching your children TO BE. They are important in your child's life...everyday...sometimes in ways in which you are unaware.

They are called on to perform so many roles besides Teacher. They are boo-boo kissers, judge & jury, psychiatrists, role models, cheerleaders, huggers, encouragers, singers, and so much more. Their jobs are often thankless and mercilessly scrutinized.

My hope for your children is that they have the good fortune to have at least one Mrs. Bloss in their own lives.


Anonymous said...

Helene was my Aunt and my godmother. It is so wonderful to hear that she touched the lives of so many the same way she touched my life. She was an awesome person and thank you for the tribute to her. She will live on in the hearts and lives of the many that she touched. Thank you again. Jane Bloss

NiesGirl said...

Thank you, Jane.
It was wonderful to hear from you!
Please share my blog with the other members of your family?
I miss her.