Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad's Kindness

My dad is one of a kind...and a true saint on earth.    When I am with him, he makes me want to be a better person.  Today we started round 2 of his Keytruda immunotherapy treatments.  The longest part is waiting to see the oncologist or nursing assistant and waiting on the drug to be prepared; the infusion itself is 30 minutes.  Every step of the way, when he leaves the nurses, he thanks them.  We normally see Amy to do his vitals and put the needle in.  Dad cuts jokes with her every time....and I noticed today he thanked her for what she does for him.  Then, we now have to go to the hospital plaza where they have moved the cancer infusion/chemo because Keyserling is going to be undergoing renovations to expand it.  The rest of his treatments will involve giving his blood/getting vitals/seeing the doctor at Keyserling and then driving to the hospital complex.

Today, as he left the hospital, he thanked the nurse who had hooked up the bag and later removed the needle.  She didn't do that much, but that's how Dad is; he appreciates everything.

Last night on the phone I told him how for the first time in my life--and the first time in the 15 years I have lived here--my neighbor offered to cut my weeds at the street when he was mowing his yard yesterday.  Let me say that due to the oak trees, weeds at the street are about all that are growing, so that's all that needed mowing.  I was blown away.  Dad's response? 

          "That's what the world needs--more people being nice to each other."

That is so Dad.  He has never known a stranger.  When he retired in December of '93, he toyed with the idea of being a Walmart greeter, but Mother didn't want him to.  In fact, when they used to go to Walmart when he was driving, she admitted to being jealous when he would talk to people.  "Who was that???"  she demanded to know.  Sometimes he told her the name; other times he didn't know the name.  He.would.strike.a.conversation.with.anyone.  He has never cared the person's color, religion, or anything else we use to JUDGE people.

It would not surprise me to get to heaven one day and find that Dad is a greeter.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Paw Prints on Our Hearts

Decoy came home this weekend.  He was one of the pets I pet sit for.  I think I've been his family's sitter for almost 7 years; I lose track of time.  His dad is an EMT, and his mom travels the globe as an educational consultant.  When they are both away, I am their pets' sitter.  I think when I began there was Lady, a black lab; Jake, a chocolate who passed away last June; Decoy, this lab; and Emma, a man-loving cat.  None are left now except Charlie, the golden doodle seen in some of these pictures.

Decoy battled a tumor for the last 14 months or so, and he was on and off medication.  Last Tuesday night, the night AFTER I was last with him, was brutal; his parents knew the time had come.  I remember when his parents got him over 12 years ago.  Here he was as a pup:

Decoy was trained to be a duck hunting dog, and he truly loved to do that in his heyday.  Here are some more pictures of him with Lady and Madison, his sisters, and then Emma, his feline sister:

And, here he was when I pet-sat for him:

And treat time may be the way I best remember him:

Run free, Decoy, with Lady and Madison.  Say hello to all my kitties for me!  Nanny G loved you!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sparkles is home.

When I love, I love deeply, and my cats are no exception.  This never gets easier, and some people may ask why I do it then.  Why do I have pets?  I would save them all if I could.  I believe every animal should have the chance at a good life where he or she is loved and pampered. One day I will blog about what started my love for cats, but it's still too painful after all these years.  

This is my second urn in almost 7 months.  Sparkles is on the right; Lovie is on the left.  She really loved him in the few short months they were together before he passed.

 And here she is in happy times with her siblings:

In spite of what a minister once said, I firmly believe I will see all my pets in heaven one day.  God is God.  Nothing is too hard for him; why would He give these animals to us on earth to love and care for, only to take them away from us forever?  That makes no sense to me.  I will see Sparkles, along with Prissy Mae, Fluffy Marie, Fluffer Andrew, Royena, Baby, Mollianne, Snowy, Thumper, and Lovie.  I have had 15 cats in 42 years, and I remember every name and every circumstance surrounding their passings.  They have left huge paw prints on my heart that remain almost 27 years after the first one passed away.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

God Restores

God brings some people into our lives for a season; He brought this woman into my life for several reasons, but I will share just one here publicly.  She is my most immediate former principal, and even though I retired, I still cried yesterday when we as a faculty told her goodbye as well as on my way home.....and I cry now as I type this.   I cried because I could have returned to visit her, but she is leaving the area.  As I told her yesterday, words can not express what she has meant to me.    In the last three years, she brought me out of the desert  and restored everything in my teaching life that had been ripped away:  my dignity, my worth, my value, my autonomy....literally everything.

In my 29 years, I have worked for 8 principals.  As my bff would say, "Most were not worth two dead flies."  In fact, only two of the 8 were what principals should be:  Roger Hudson (an interim at Ruffin High) and Nicole Thomas Holloman.  When Ms. Holloman came to my school, she had to straighten out one helluva mess....That is the best, most succinct way to express it.  AND, this is telling; the then-new Superintendent changed the leadership of my school before any other.  There is a MAJOR problem when year after year, the average number of teachers who leave a 6-8 school is 18 or so.  Ms. Holloman  had to rebuild the culture in the school from one that was oppressive, disheartening, and tyrannical, ( and I am being kind).   She led by giving teachers autonomy (as opposed to micromanaging every move out of distrust) and treating them with the respect they deserve to make decisions for what they knew to be best.  A dark cloud lifted when God put her there.  That's the best way to sum it up.  And.....make no mistake......God put her there.  I know that beyond any doubt.

I will always be grateful for what she has done for me in these last three years.  May God give her grace, wisdom, and protection in her coming assignment.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Passing the torch

I think the girl who gave this to me in the 6th grade is now going into the 10th; it was hard for me to keep track once they left my school. Of all the things I was given over the years, this is the one I will keep. I never thought much about what it said until recently.

Today, I got a message from a former student from around 1990; He is retiring from the army and going to become a teacher. Here is part of our conversation:

""You are part of the reason I want to teach you know. You impacted my entire life! Years and years from that desk in front of the room. If I am blessed to grow old, my success will have your DNA. Who wouldnt want that job?"

Man, I loved this "kid" back in the day. I clearly remember him front and center in my English class, though I don't recall what year. Jervie was contemplative back then, and I'm sure he still is. He always had a serious look on his face, and really thought before he spoke....and what usually came out was profound. Now, he wants to teach. More power to him; he spent 23 years in the army, so he can handle whatever education throws at him. He wants to "make a difference." God bless him.

This is Kakeshia, another Ruffin alum.  She says I influenced her to be a teacher (not on purpose!).  She is a Gifted and Talented teacher in the Atlanta area and has been a Teacher of the Year.  She and her hubby, also a Ruffin alum, have adopted a brother and sister.  I will always remember Kakeshia's big smile and gorgeous, big eyes.

This inset picture is of me and Dr. Wanda Boatwright, yet another Ruffin alum who says she became a teacher because of me, at least in part.  Wanda has also been a Teacher of the Year in the Atlanta area.  (The guy in the big picture is yet another story.)  

Ruffin High was a Title One, high poverty school.  In spite of that, it has many success stories.  These are just the ones I know of who went/will go into teaching.  For more of good ol' Ruffin High, go here:  here

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Retirement Benefit #1: Rid of nasty, jealous people

We have no control over with whom we work unless we change jobs.  As I was cooking Priscilla's meal this morning, the first benefit of retirement hit me:  choosing with whom I spend time.  No longer do I have to tolerate nasty, jealous, selfish people.

In the last two years, I have come to the conclusion that some people are just naturally nasty, jealous, MISERABLE people........and if we looked at their lives, we would see they have been that way either their entire lives, or pretty darn close.  There are two women at work who, in their "infinite wisdom,"  decided nearly two years ago that I was not "pulling my weight" in the work department.  As though they, with their cushy positions, had any room to talk--or as though they even "knew" what I did.  Anyway, one has her nose so far up the other's butt that she can't see straight.  The other one dictates what this one's relationships will be.  It's really comical in a way, but then again, it is pitiful.  Yes, I pity them because both are clearly miserable people walking around with a perpetual scowl.

The funny thing is:  my being gone next year will not heal their bitterness and anger, for that is the core of whom they are.  They.will.pick.the.next.person.to.be.jealous.of.

However, benefit #1 of retirement is choosing whom I will let breathe my air.

Friday, May 26, 2017

God Rights Wrongs

I have been blessed beyond measure with a retirement party and then today, more gifts.  It's.not.about.the.gifts.  It IS about how they make me feel.

For most of my career, I have been abused and unappreciated, as most teachers are.  My goal is to blog about my experiences over the next year---and get it out of my system so I can truly close this chapter of my life.

I told one of the "girls" (Heck, anyone younger than I is a girl, but the two teachers who organized my party are in their 20s.) that I would expect 3-4 people.  I was blown away to see it was standing room only with 30 desks taken as well as 4 or 5 chairs, too.  Granted, some people came for the food, but many gave food and monetary donations towards the gift cards.  I was in awe.  

But......I am reminded that God rights wrongs.  He takes injustices and eventually turns them around, if one has faith.  I wholeheartedly believe that.

Today, I received more gifts.  This gift card came from a classified lady, meaning she is a support staff person who doesn't make that much.  I feel this was a sacrifice.  She said she will always remember me for my perseverance and toughness.  Yes, one does not survive 21 years in middle school at 4 feet 11 if she is a wimp.  I have already been to the Hilton Head website and see a facial in my future.  ON.THE.DAY.I.CHOOSE.WHENEVER.I.CHOOSE

This bag below was from a lady who had already contributed to my party.  If you can see the mug behind the Russell Stover candy (all gone!  My philosophy is to eat it in one day; then, I can start fresh with my eating tomorrow!), it says on the inside rim, "I can do all things through Christ."  That is my mantra and has been throughout my career.  She also included an adult scripture coloring book, which I will be doing!  Of course, she added some cat treats for me, too, such as a much-needed spoon rest.

Then, I was gifted with this bag of coffee from a local, on-island cafe.  It's pecan flavored.  I can't wait to try it alone and again, mixed with my Starbucks Verona for a chocolate-pecan flavor.  It will be nice to drink coffee whenever I want and pee when I want!  Sorry, but that is NOT a given for teachers, folks!

Finally, my second boss and her husband/pet children gave me this:

It resembles my Snowflake, except she has a blue eye and a green one.

So, I give God all the glory in making this retirement something I will never forget.  He began to turn things around three years ago.  What he has shown me through this is two things:

1.  More people liked me than I thought.
2.  He is faithful.  I am going out with a feeling of being appreciated for the first time in my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book 1, Chapter 29 Closes

Some people are big party people and would celebrate a retirement with a huge blow-out in a fancy restaurant or bar.  I'm not a big party person.  Two of the young teachers at my school decided to throw me a small retirement party after school yesterday, and that suited me just fine.  I have been in the same school for 13 years.  Last week, one lady called me a "staple."  I think that will live with me as long as I have my good mind.  A staple is something you always keep in your kitchen, like flour or sugar.  I am/was the longest consecutive teaching staff member in that school, so I suppose I am/was a staple.  Here are some pictures of my party.  I don't scrapbook, so my memories' footprints will be here and in my Facebook album.  

Someone (LeAnna) stalked my Facebook to get the above collage of pictures, but then she went to the trouble of printing them like real pictures.  How does one even do that?  I have no clue.
This card below is from the Morgan family.  I had the pleasure of teaching 6 of their 8 children.  This family is the DREAM family any teacher DREAMS of.  Honestly, I can not say enough about how they have reared their children.  While no child is perfect, they come darn close....and they are smart to boot!

This is a bouquet they gave me.  Just gorgeous
Two of my colleagues who retired in the last 5 or so years brought me these mums.  I was so happy to see Sherri and Deb again!

These are two gift cards they gave me.  I think this was when I cried.  I really didn't expect more than 4 or 5 people to show up, but there were over 30.  The room was packed; all the desks were taken, the chairs, and a few were standing.

One sweet colleague and her son gave me this Starbucks card.
My BFF came and gave me a Walmart card and said I could go any day, any time of day I want.  No more answering to a clock!

This cute sign was part of the decorations.  It's framed so I can keep it as a memento from the party.

Finally, some videos of the party.
The first is what I saw when I came in.

The food video


More video of the people who came


One of my students from 4 years ago came back.  Her mom is the School Resource Officer at my school.  Maggie was in my GT 6th grade ELA class at the end of the day that year.  She is not only beautiful, but smart as a whip, as the saying goes.


If you made it this far through my retirement party memories, I thank you.  Yesterday was the last day I have with students, and it ended with a bang.  I brought them all candy bar brownies and had a raffle for items from my classroom and home; stuffed animals and sketch books were the big attractions.  Everything I allotted for the raffle was given out, and the recipients were happy, so mission accomplished!

Next Wednesday, May 31, chapter 29 closes on Book 1 of My Life.   Book 2 awaits.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In the Rearview Mirror

Four weeks from today I will turn in my keys for the last time and my badge.  I am 100% certain this is the right thing for me and my parents, but I am sure I will be emotional as I relinquish all I have known for 29 years.  I know there is a time and season for everything, and I know mine is about up.

Right after I signed my first contract, I traded my perfectly fine 1980 Clemson orange Mustang for a 1988 Nissan Sentra.  And.....I signed a lease on a cute craftsman style house across from Walterboro High's football stadium.  All this before I ever got my first paycheck.  When I did get it, my heart dropped; my take home was $464.  One check didn't cover my car payment and rent.  Since Mother didn't want me moving home, she gave me $150 a month to be able to stay on my own. 

As I was going through things, I found some relics.  Teachers are notorious pack rats.  This book of essay topics has travelled with me for 29 years.  There are thousands of topics covering close to 100 subjects, but I think it is time to let it go.

It traveled with me to 5 schools and 17 classrooms:

    Ruffin High:  8 years and 2 rooms
    Colleton Middle:  4 years and 1 room
    Colleton Prep:  1 year and 1 room
    Whale Branch Middle:  3 years and 3 rooms
    Robert Smalls:  13 years and 7 rooms (more on THAT in another post)

As I was going through things,I came across these notes from 10 years ago.  I remember because I had these students in 2006-2007 right before I knew I had cancer.  I remember each of these student's faces.

I am sure as I move forward, more memories will bubble to the surface, but these students were some of the best I have had.  We had single gender classes that year with one girls' class, one boys' class, one coed regular, and one GT coed.  That was the time I realized I much preferred teaching boys.  Girls are too drama-filled.  And, the GT class was da bomb.  I remember writing them a letter where I highlighted each one of them and what I would remember them for.  At least one is already married. What I love about Facebook is being able to keep up with them.  

Twenty-nine years was just a minute ago.

Friday, April 28, 2017

God's Timing

Once again, God's timing is impeccable, and this is one of those times I am totally floored that he cares that much about me to speak to me through my guardian angel.  (My guardian angel shall remain nameless, but I'll give one  hint:    He is a student from my first year teaching in 1988.)

The devil has been messing with my mind today.  He tends to do that when I am on the verge of victory in some area.  I decided this afternoon to message said G.A. and ask him and his wife to pray for me.  His response blew me away:  He said, "wow.  5 minutes ago I got a 'you need to call Ms. Williams' as clearly as if you were sitting here next to me....I think we need to talk."

So, talk we did!  I told him what was going on, and he told me just what I needed to hear.  AND.it.came.from.God.through.his.mouth.to.my.ear.  There is NO other explanation of why I would message him right after he had that "feeling/message."  Anyway, the bottom line of the message was for me not to worry, so I won't!.

God's timing is impeccable, but we have to be willing to listen for his voice.