The funeral home for Mrs. P was packed with a lot of people who wanted to pay their last respects. With a 35 year teaching career, she affected many, many lives and you could tell she meant a lot to a lot of people.
I was uncertain how tonight was going to go, for many reasons. I worried that I would cry. I worried that my one or all of my daughters would get upset. I worried that it was going to be awkward, knowing that we weren’t close to the family. I worried that one or more of my girls would whine/misbehave or want to go home.
All of those worries didn’t happen.
What did happen was a lot of nice stories were shared about how Mrs. P inspired a lot of people. Her determination and her strength in the face of fighting her cancer for 5 years was a testament to her faith. She was amazingly cheerful every time I saw her, and she always had positive things to say.
We saw her last over the summer, after science camp got out, the girls and I saw her when we went to pick up M afterwards. She always had a smile on her face, but every time she saw M, her smile got even brighter, and she would say that M’s smile was like a ray of sunshine. She always had hugs for the girls.
I’m so glad M had been blessed to have her for a teacher. And I think that Mrs. P was very happy to have M as a student. In M’s yearbook, Mrs. P wrote:
Little Miss M,
I’ll miss your wonderful smiling face! Love you lots!
We got the chance to hear talk with a few other teachers, like M’s kindergarten teacher from 2 years ago, and her second grade teacher (Mrs. M) this year. It was very good for M to have familiar faces there.
Earlier today I sent in a card for M’s teacher, because while I knew we lost a great teacher, she lost a great friend. I spoke for a while to her and her husband, and just before we left, he said that his wife (Mrs. M) really appreciated the gesture.
When it was time to pay our respects to Mrs. P, I was very proud at how my daughters handled themselves. M and little E went up to the
casket with me to say goodbye. K was too scared to go up close, so she stayed a little bit back. E asked me how Mrs. P died while we were waiting in the long line, and it just occurred to me that I probably should have done a little more to prepare the other two girls. But it was only at the last minute that we decided to bring all of them.
After we paid our last respects we went off to a side of the room where they had a table set up with crayons, markers and paper, so that if any students wanted to draw some pictures for the family, they could. K and E drew some pictures, and M already came with a card that she made last Friday but didn’t get the chance to give to Mrs. P.
About that time I saw my friend and her son, who was a classmate of M’s since kindergarten. M and N hung out for a while talking and looking at all the pictures of Mrs. P and the class pictures that someone left on a table for guests to look through. They saw their class picture. I think it was nice for both of them that they were able to spend some time together. I think my friend was both surprised and a little relieved I didn’t cry. Well, to be honest, I’m relieved I didn’t cry. Every time she’d give me updates on Mrs. P’s condition, I’d cry right then in front of her. It was probably awkward for her, but I really couldn’t help it. The tears just came. I am glad I didn’t cry there though. I think that I would have been a bit embarrassed.
I also got the chance to talk with Mrs. H – the co-teacher for Mrs. P’s class last year. When Mrs. P was very sick, Mrs. H took over the class so that there would be continuity for the kids. Mrs. H talked with me quite a bit. There wasn’t any awkwardness, she shared some stories with me about Mrs. P and about M. She asked me about how M was doing now, and even about how K was doing in kindergarten, remembering that she had selective mutism.
Everyone I spoke with admired Mrs. P’s courage, her determination to beat her disease, and her desire to put others at ease and inspire her children to do well and be kind to each other. She had a heart of gold and a smile that warmed you from the inside. It is hard to know that she’s gone. I’m saddened that my other two girls do not get the chance to know her like M did. She was an incredible teacher and role model for children and adults alike.
We are blessed to have known her, at least for a little while.
Rest in peace, Mrs. P.