#256: Mrs. Boyer

December 16th, 2013

Looking at my grading is making me sort of misty.

Only one student got an A. There were a couple A minuses, to be fair, but not many. It was a low A and that student worked her ass off all semester.

They must hate me.

I’m getting misty because in high school, my favorite teacher was the one everybody hated. Mrs. Boyer was demanding and never quite cottoned to the “princes of the world now tell us we’re clever and give us trophies” attitude so many of us in the gifted program had.

It didn’t get me up off my lazy ass to analyze the Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky like I was supposed to, but something about her really resonated with me. I had gotten so used to being told I was smart and there Mrs. Boyer was, demanding I actually put what brains I had to use before being told I was clever.

I had some amazing teachers through my life. I can still remember the quadratic formula because of Carol Anderson in middle school and Paul Stalter was exactly the sort of influence I and a lot of other vaguely troubled kids needed around us in high school. But I always admired the way Mrs. Boyer never accepted my cleverer-than-thou bullshit.

I didn’t start working at schoolwork until college and some might say I never dropped the attitude, but Mrs. Boyer was a good person to have in my life. I visited her in school once after I graduated. She and I traded a few letters, but that dropped off over the years. I would run into her at the gym when I was visiting my hometown.

I guess I didn’t really see her again until her funeral.

She had been sick for years, even when we were running into each other at the gym. Tough lady. Kept plugging along. I talked with her husband a bit in the receiving line. He laughed with such pride in his voice when he recalled what a tough grader she was. That was something he admired in her too. I didn’t see anyone I knew other than a couple teachers I didn’t care to talk to. I went home after the service. I didn’t feel like I said goodbye.

Those who know about my family know we had a bad run of death a while back. Nine family members in two years. It’s hard to process a teacher’s death when you’re dealing with losing grandparents, uncles, cousins. I was also working for a cackling sweatshop where they would tell you exactly how lucky you were to have a job. The demands were high and the lifestyle nil and I’m sorry to say I regressed.

The girl I was dating at the time told me later I sounded like a teenager when she asked about Mrs. Boyer’s funeral. I snapped “Fine” and then clammed up.

Now, years later, I’m away from the job and the run of death. I’m in a warm kitchen, watching snowy roofs and wind rustle snow-bowed evergreens. I’m sipping coffee, grading and, based on the fact that I just started crying, I guess I’m finally processing it.

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You are currently reading #256: Mrs. Boyer by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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