You may not think so at first; however this post IS about teaching, as well as livig.
I noticed her, leaning close, reading to him as I entered the lobby almost every afternoon. He did not seem to be listening; his eyes stared into the distance as if he were looking into the distant future. Yet, she continued reading, patting his arm at times, deep into the story.
Then, one day, she was in the lobby, alone, just staring at the door. My eyes met hers and I smiled, greeting her with a sincere, “Hello,” even though I had that sinking-pit-in-the-stomach feeling that he had gone to that spot in the distance.
“Good to see you,” she said slowly, her eyes filling with fresh tears and her voice shaking.
Somehow, I knew I had to acknowledge her missing partner. “You’re not reading today?” I asked.
“He’s gone,” she said, her voice no longer shaking, “but we finished The Silent Stream. It was Tom’s favorite and I knew when I finished he would be ready to go. Thank you for asking about him. It means the world to me that you care.”
I held her thin hand for just a moment sharing that Silent Stream had been one of my dad’s favorites as well. Rachel Carson was a name bounced around dinner table conversations when I was growing up! “Such as small world,” she smiled, “and I am so glad you stopped to talk today. I miss him so much.”
I thought about the brief interaction with a woman whose name I still did not know, as I drove home that night. Our words matter, as Peter Johnston says, in the classroom, in the boardroom, in the doctor’s office, in the hallway, and in the nursing home lobby.