by Julie Thompson
My mom retired after 35 years of being an elementary teacher. As she was ending her teaching career, I was beginning mine. I loved sharing teaching stories with my mom. She could relate to what I was going through, and on those really tough days and weeks, I always felt better after talking with my mom.
Unfortunately, a few years after my mom retired, she passed away. I expected holidays and birthdays to be hard without her. What caught me by surprise though is how much I missed her as I drove to school. And at the beginning of each new school year, waves of grief would roll in and out.
Now I anticipate the waves, and instead of them overtaking me I ride them out. As I drive to school each day, I welcome the childhood memories that come to mind. . . .
Memories of sitting with my mom on the couch at night and helping her “grade” papers
Memories of watching her write and revise her lesson plans
Memories of helping my mom in her classroom
Now, my evenings often involve schoolwork, such as checking papers and reviewing my lesson plans for the following day, but my mom is no longer sitting on the couch next to me.
Even though we can no longer bond over our teaching experiences, I have found a way to keep my mom’s memory alive in my classroom.
When my mom retired, she gave me the books from her classroom library. At the time, I was so thankful, mainly because she saved me a lot of money. Creating a classroom library is expensive!
After she passed away, though, these books became even more valuable to me. Whenever I come across a book in my classroom with my mom’s name written on the inside or back cover, I smile. Seeing her handwriting brings me comfort.
I love that my students are reading and enjoying some of the same books that were in my mom’s classroom.
In this small way, my mom still gets to be a part of my classroom.
And one day, I hope to give my classroom library to a new teacher.
Books are meant to be shared. Great stories are timeless. I’m so thankful for the stories my mom shared with me.