While all the girls in our freshman English class read stories taken from Reader’s Digest of puppies run over by cars and children with incurable illnesses, in a contest to see how many other girls they could make cry, the boys shared stories of football injuries and deer-hunting accidents. Ken Nick, however, who would go on to graduate third in our class, brought in an article on graphite fishing poles. Those of us who were still awake after the first paragraph, gaped at the boy in the front of the room, trying to figure out how this fulfilled the assignment of bringing in something interesting to read in class.
Mrs. Hanson, however, did not miss a beat. It would slay her to say anything the slightest bit offensive to one of her students. She gently cut him off with her usual sweetness, however gravelly her voice was from years of heavy smoking. As Kenny sat down, she nodded her head, holding her hands together as if in prayer.
The papers she returned were filled with smiley faces and “this is terrific”. Well, at least mine were. I can’t however imagine her writing anything stronger than “I think that maybe you meant to say…” or “Webster’s Dictionary spells it this way, but if you were trying to be creative, it could work your way also.”
The last time I talked to her, nearly thirty years after my high school graduation, she asked if I was still writing.
“I’ve just started up again,” I answered, and actually the Christian women’s conference we were at was what had inspired me to put fingers to keyboard after many years.
A few weeks ago, as I was putting the finishing touches on the devotional I had a written, I had an epiphany. I should send the book to her to review and also to connect with her, let her know how much I appreciated her support, how much she inspired me to keep writing.
A day later, I heard that she was having some medical problems and debated whether or not now was the time to bother her. Then my mother called this past Wednesday afternoon. Monica Hanson’s obituary had just been on the radio.
What a blow, what a loss, not only to puny insignificant me, but to her family, her friends and all of the students who were blessed to have had her in class. Granted, she was 78 years young and all those packs of cigarettes had to take a toll. But don’t we somehow think that our favorite high school teacher is immortal?
Only God knows what was in Mrs. Hanson’s heart, but I would bet that her faith was as strong as anyone’s. And that does make her immortal.
“Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” Isaiah 57:2 (NIV)