Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Young Teacher

Each day now she waits for her Mom and Dad to arrive. She asks if I know where they are and why she can't seem to locate them. She is not frantic, only a little disappointed. They will soon be with her, just not yet.

There are places to go. She has overstayed her time here. She often asks if I am from this area and if I like it where I am. In her inquiry she provides her own response.

She is anxious because she has to be in school tomorrow. She is a teacher, and there is a sense that she feels she has not fully prepared for the days ahead.

And then there are her 2 older sisters. They have seemed to abandon her. She is so close with both of them, and counts on their companionship. But today they are not here, and they have not been here for a while. There is a small resentment, a slight disgust but nothing more. They are sisters after all.

2 young children seem to be missing. They are the wards of the young teacher. I don't know their names, their ages or even their sexes. I am not sure how they got into her life, but I do understand that she feels very responsible for their welfare.

I try to be vague in my response to all her questions, while still being helpful, even positive. Sometimes I stumble, and sometimes I am at a loss for words. But most often my answers are enough to move the conversation on. When they are not, I get a quizzical look, a shrug and every so often a slightly agitated retort. But that always passes quickly.

Often when the young teacher and I are together there are long silences. Apart from her parents, her older sisters, her school and her ward, there is little that holds her attention. Events in the rest of the universe are discussed but mean little.

This is the world that I enter daily. The stories vary little, the concerns and the questioning often eerily verbatim replications of the day before and the day before that.

My mom is in her early 20's going on 94. Her parents passed away a half a century ago. Her 2 older sisters are gone for a decade. She last taught a class in the early 1940's. And the young children who live in her imagination are not even a part of a recognizable past.

I will speak with that young teacher tomorrow and the day after, and for as many days as she can hold on to that reality. And I will try my best to be respectful of the world that she inhabits. She deserves nothing less.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robert, Beautifully written...and heartbreaking. I am So sorry. Steve