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To My Beloved Teacher

December 29, 2018

When I visited you two years ago

After an absence of at least fifteen years

I noticed the slip

You forgot what you did only moments before

More than once

And you were not aware that you forgot.

It was a mild shock for me.

You remember the far away events

Better than the recent.

I knew, but I did not want to know.

Still, I adjust.

I repeat myself as often as you need,

Without any hint that I already did so once, or twice, or thrice.

Though we agreed to meet at lunch time (you wrote it down),

I packed a picnic lunch as Plan B

In case we needed it.

And I drove to your home

Of 35 years

Only to meet an unknown man at your door.

He told me you moved, months ago.

“I am supposed to meet her for lunch.”

The man’s wife, on the stairs, said like a slap,

“She has Alzheimer’s.”

I took the hit and kept smiling.

The reality blow that I knew but did not want to know

About a great mind who taught me literature and writing

At the university thirty years ago.

They knew the street where you moved;

I called you; you answered and told me the correct house number

(You checked yourself by reading the mailbox)

And I found you.

We visited through a remarkable lucidity

Interspersed with a forgetfulness that you did not realize you were experiencing,

Just as you do not realize that you no longer drive, or take exploratory walks

Or read the books that you don’t remember your husband brings to you.

But we take it in stride, and we enjoy one another once more

While I save my tears, my grief, for my time alone.

And if you call me again during my school day

As you did once before, forgetting I teach,

I will again answer the phone,

Modeling for my students a cross-generational lesson

Of gentleness, honor, and love.

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  1. Phyllis Doerr permalink

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Yes,and it is a wonderful year-end reminder that so much of what matters in teaching and learning is beyond measure.

  3. patrickwalsh permalink

    This is beautiful, Mercedes, and so are you.

  4. Lovely, sad, and true.

  5. IRA SHOR permalink

    Warmed and troubled my heart.

  6. Polly permalink

    The loss of the past is so sad for your teacher but perhaps protected her from hurt of what has changed. The memory of values of the past is irreplaceable. Hold on to it for yourself. Pass it on to future generation, if you trust God to do that for you. God Bless.

  7. Martha Donovan permalink

    Beautiful. This is me. And my mother. She was not my literature teacher. But she was my first teacher and the reason I too became a (literature) teacher

  8. Sarah permalink

    One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read-tears sting the yes beautiful…

  9. Sarah permalink

    One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read–tears stinging the eyes beautiful…

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  1. July 4th and Early-Onset Alzheimer’s | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

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