I've been thinking about my grandma a lot lately. I remember at her funeral, my aunt said that Alberta was the kind of person you assumed belonged only to you. Grandma had personal relationships with all of the people in her life. She tried to teach me to knit. I failed. She tried to teach me to crochet. I failed. She then got a plastic grid, and taught me how to use yarn to stitch square patterns. She never gave up, despite my clumsy hands, and all of the tangled yarn.
When I was a little girl, I decided to tape record the life stories of my grandma and grandpa. I sat each one of them down, and recorded both parallel threads that finally intersected after WWI. My grandma related to me that she had always wanted to become a teacher. She had packed her suitcase for college, and was ready to leave home, when she found out that her mother had cancer. I pictured her putting her dresses back on their hangers and silently hanging them back up in her closet, as she started crying into the microphone of the tape recorder. Alberta was never able to attend college, because she had to stay home to care for her mother. But, she was a master teacher.
There was never a time, when we left her home, that she didn't come outside to hug us and to wave "goodbye". I always liked to turn around and watch her get smaller from the wide back window of our car.
My reasons for becoming a teacher don't relate to my grandmother's dream. I believe strongly in having a personal relationship with my students, and I think that is a lesson I learned from her. But, there are really hard days at my job, when I don't feel very good about my efforts. She reminds me that the work I do is a privilege. And, this always gives me comfort...