“I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that…….Sounds simple—when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that. “Always go toe the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me but the world to the other guy. You know the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The shivah call for one of my ex-uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. In going to funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable occasional calamity.”
This week I’ve witnessed a lot of metaphorical funeral attending.
Wednesday morning, in class, Jeff said, “Mrs. Hislop, you taught us to make inferences, right?”
“Well, you look sad today. Is something wrong?”
Bless his heart. Bless, bless, BLESS his heart! Not only did he correctly use a science concept we learned in class (inference), he also observed (another science skill) and he cared (best of all). Small to him, perhaps; huge to me, definitely.
SIDE NOTE: I was sad. I was giving an interim SAGE test (comprehensive state mandated test) and was so disheartened. Though I am not allowed to see the test, it is permissible for me to peer over students’ shoulders. What I saw completely disheartened me. Some of the questions asked things that are not on the core curriculum; others were so ambiguous that I question my ability to select the right answer. How am I supposed to adequately prepare students? ARG!
On a happier note…..
The Syracuse Arts Academy (SAA) and Ogden Preparatory Academy (OPA) volleyball teams both made it to the state championship play-offs. Tuesday night SAA beat OPA so Wednesday night OPA played for 3rd/4th and then SAA competed for 1st/2nd. After losing their game, OPA players stayed to cheer for the SAA team; they chanted S, A, A with each bump, set, spike and cheered wildly with each point scored. A few extra minutes invested; a huge pay-off in sportsmanship and comradery for both teams. COOL.
Another cool story…..
Last Sunday Elder Chick Hislop and his companion were a little concerned when they received a text from the president of the neighboring stake instructing them to stop by his home before they headed to their home for the night. What had they done to attract the attention of a relatively high ranking church leader? Couldn’t be good, right?
Wrong. It was good; very, very good. They were warmly greeted and led into the kitchen were a huge chocolate cake awaited them. Happy Birthday Elder Hislop!
The stake president is Cathy’s brother; Cathy is my sister-in-law, Chick’s aunt. In response to my profusely grateful email Cathy said simply, “All I did was make a phone call.” A simple phone call for her; a world of meaning (or at least several states worth) of meaning for Chick (and for his mother).
I also have some non-funeral stories, probably funny, probably not profound.
We brought the ewes home from the breeders and put them into the pasture with the goat that we are babysitting. The goat, large for her breed, immediately protested to what she considered an invasion of her territory. She reared up—which made her taller than I am—and pawed the air, snorting indignantly. After several aerial displays of displeasure, she dropped to the ground and shook her horned head menacingly at Big Mama, our Suffolk ewe.
Big Mama, who is a foot or so shorter than the goat, paid little attention to the display. When the goat got in her face, she momentarily stopped grazing, met the goat’s head with her own, butted the goat on the flank a few times for good measure, and then returned to grazing.
Not to be deterred, the goat continued rearing and pawing the air. Not to be bothered, Big Mama continued eating. Big Mama casually meandered away, the goat purposely followed, trying to get Big Mama to engage but she would have none of it; she simply couldn’t be bothered. It was as if she were saying, “I am a sheep. You are a goat. Get on the left side where you belong and leave me alone.” I laughed out loud.
I also laugh out loud, now, when I recount my Halloween adventure, though I did not find it so funny at the time.
Wednesday Talyn, a colleague, asked me if I would be dressing up for Halloween. I hate dressing up and so responded negatively. When Talyn told me her costume plans—a large round contraption with a graduation hat, i.e. graduated cylinder—I began entertaining a maybe-I-should-wear-a-costume notion.
Friday morning (Halloween) my desire to be a fun teacher overcame my loathing for dressing up and I donned a Renaissance dress. I rejected an idea to bring normal clothes, fearing that I might chicken out if I gave myself an option, and went to school looking like a peasant from medieval times.
I saw Talyn in the copy room…in normal clothes. What? “They made an announcement yesterday afternoon that no one, teachers or students, was to dress up for Halloween,” she explained. Because I teach only every other day, I was not at school to hear the announcement. I very definitely was at school on Halloween, though, and I very definitely was the only one in the ENTIRE school wearing a Halloween costume. I can laugh about it now……
Let my story about Halloween be the end of my writing. Let Ms. Sullivan’s story about a funeral end my letter.
“One cold April night, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful, and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.”
I hope to attend a lot of funerals. (Metaphorically speaking….!)