A half-empty Sun-drop bottle, an open pack of crackers, jelly packets scattered across a desk. A snatch of time, a life finished too soon. I made myself stare at her desk, take it all in. Her myriad of bobble-head dolls, her schedule for the day. It was all where she’d left it, expecting to return.
Our school lost a dear friend this past week. She spent the last twenty-five plus years of her life taking care of teachers, taking care of children. Petite and thin, strong and quick-witted, she was sharp. She was unique. If you were willing to open yourself to her, if only you tried the slightest bit, you found a friend. Not always a woman of many words, she was so much more than what the eye perceived. She had a smile that was bright when she chose to smile, and when she laughed, the air around her sparked. Sharing a laugh with her meant sharing joy. I’ll never forget our last laugh together, me illiterate about technology, asking her how she’d fixed my VCR and remote, her shrugging and saying ‘I don’t know’. We looked at each other and laughed. And it was real – a moment between souls that just got each other.
And that soul left behind so much more than a half-empty Sun-Drop bottle. She left her ability to connect with children. It could’ve been a sweet, spirited little boy or a special needs child. Her radar found them and they became hers, not just for the day or for the week, but for life.
She left her dry sense of humor, her devotion to work when she could’ve retired years ago. She left her no-nonsense approach to life, her gift of technology, the taping of school programs for parents, and her never-ending supply of change. She left mementos like crochet blankets and wooden bowls, tweeting birds and knitted booties. She left a lifetime worth of memories. She left all of us at Pulaski Elementary feeling like we’ve lost a limb or gained a hole in our hearts.
She was our friend, and we called her LP.