Three years ago a wonderful lady moved into the classroom next to mine. The first thing you noticed about her was how tall she was, over six feet. She had a warm voice and friendly style that was refreshing after the other tenets of that room. While cleaning out furnature she wouldn't use I was able to get computer tables for my newly aquired mini-lab. I gave her for some reason my favorite teacher's chair. It was a discarded administration chair from my previous high school and was a hideous green, but it was comfortable. Something told me she needed a good chair. As we talked I found out she only came lately to teaching, that in fact she had worked construction most of her life as an electrician. I mentioned knowing an electrician and came to discover she had worked with him at Intel when it was being built.
Later that year she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had already survived ovarian and bone cancer, and the doctors gave her only six months at most. I watched and prayed and helped her through chemo therapy, as did our entire department. We covered her classes, and found it amazing how well behaved they were, even the students were respectful of her condition.
She made it through that year and came back the next. She was out for nearly a month while at MD Anderson for treatment, but they sent her back. Her voice was much weaker and she was getting very frail. In the spring we had a party at her house to say goodbye as most of us didn't think she would make it through the summer.
When school started there she was. I moved out into my portable and she moved across the campus into M hall. I missed seeing her and talking to her. By the end of September she became so weak that teaching was no longer possible. The cheerleaders raised money for a microphone system to help her, which was a nice gesture. The last time I saw her was in the teacher's lounge. I gave her a hug and told her how much I missed seeing her every day. It was her last day at school. We had another party in her honor, but I came down with a cold, not wanting to add to her weakened immune system I stayed home, and talked to the dept. chair by phone expressing my regrets.
Word came to school today that she has gone on to another plane of existence. She had no family and there will be no services. What she wished for was for all of us to get together for an old fashioned Irish Wake, get rip roaring drunk and toast to her memory.
I'll be there. I've never been drunk in my life, and am not about to start now. I guess that will make me the designated driver for alot of fellow teachers.