Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Angel boy

Do you believe in providence? I do. I received a Facebook message a few minutes ago from a former student's mom that confirmed what we both know. At our lowest points, our deceased loved ones find ways to send us messages.

Stephen walked into my life and classroom more than twenty years ago, shorter than a yard stick, weighing no more than a sack of potatoes, with hair the color of a shiny penny and personality that outshone the overhead lights. He had a very serious congential heart defect. I remember when he turned four and was supposed to move on with his classmates to a three day, more intensive, preacademic program. I had to convince his mom that it was in her son's best interest to stay behind with children he could keep up with physically and academically. It took lots of persuasion.

He had several hospitalizations, and his little lips would turn blue from exhaustion from simply getting up and down and doing physical activity. I wanted him to be happy and have a positive experience in preschool, not struggle to keep up. His mom agreed.

I tutored Stephen in hospital when he would not cooperate with the special ed team. He and I learned from one another. I knew that mastering those basic skills wasn't as important as allowing him to master his destiny as best he could. He needed some control over his life. He would become so tired and weary of medical interventions, he'd shout at the nurses, "You're fired!"

I would walk in with school work and I could tell by his mood. Some days I'd say, "You don't want to do ABCs? Okay, what should we talk about?"

I could see the disbelief on his face. Wow! The teacher had no expectations and wasn't going to force him to learn? We talked about everything, but mostly the latest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I did a fund raiser for his family at Easter. My students did a bunny hop at school and we raised $1,000.00 for his family. I dressed in a bunny costume and parked in front of the hospital. I exited my car and realized I had left the envelope filled with cash on the front seat...and my keys in the ignition. I rushed into the hospital and begged a guard to come help me. I then grabbed my keys and the envelope and rode the elevator to Stephen's floor. I hopped into his room and he burst out laughing and squealed, "Ms. Linda!"

"How did you know it was me?"

"Your eyes!" He smiled.

I purchased a stuffed Ninja turtle, for the classroom. His favorite, Michaelangelo, waited for his return. That stuffed toy was bigger than the boy, but he dragged it everywhere.

When he had moved on to big school, Stepehen had surgery to replace his pulmonary artery (I think) but sadly his condition worsened over time. I kept in contact with his family and visited him in hospital years after he left me.

Stephen went to heaven eighteen years ago this month, at age 9.  I was on vacation and unable to attend his funeral. For years I would call his mom around the anniversary. The first time, I said, "I am sending you a hug through the phone, uuunnnnhhh."

She cried out, "That is just how Stephen would send me a hug across the room at the end when he was too weak to get up."

Today she received my Facebook message. She said she was clearing debris from his grave when her new phone pinged a message received from me: "Thinking of you and Stephen."

Ann said, "With only the slightest breeze in the air, the windmill I placed at his grave began to spin wildly."

You can think what you want, but Ann and I know than an angel boy flew by. For a brief moment of earth time we had that special connection.

21 comments:

Sioux said...

Linda--What a touching post. I think there is a CS Positive Kid story about Stephen...

Chatty Crone said...

You dear have and are a wonderful soul. sandie

Daisy said...

Such a touching post. I believe in the angels too. You are much more than a teacher to those students of yours. You are a dear and trusted friend.

Bookie said...

Lovely. I knew when I started reading it would be a tear jerker in a good way! You did not disappoint.

K9friend said...

Sweet and poignant post.

Pat
Critter Alley

Judy SheldonWalker said...

Such and sweet and inspiring post. You were truly blessed by this little soul and were kind enough to share the blessing with us. Our loved ones are not promised to us but lent to us and each day is a gift.

Susan said...

Poignant, Linda. Truly you touched that little boy's life in a special way.

He is still touching yours!

Thanks for sharing. Susan

Linda Austin said...

Wow, Linda. I believe. You were a good friend as well as a teacher. So sweet you keep in touch with Stephen's mom after so many years.

jabblog said...

What an inspirational story. Yes, I sometimes sense people around me. It's comforting.

Bobby Smith said...

Oh yes. Our deceased loved ones do indeed find ways to communicate their presence in our daily lives. Beautiful experience!

Lisa Claro said...

Well, you've made me cry. You were a blessing to Stephen and his family, and I have no doubt an angel boy flew by.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

xo!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Linda, you're the kind of teacher mothers hope their children will get.

Such a lovely post--♥

Debora said...

Love.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Just lovely. Brought tears to my eyes.

Lynn said...

How incredibly beautiful.

noexcuses said...

So very touching, Linda! Having worked with preschool teachers, I know how special your time is with students and their families. God Bless you for giving so much! Beautiful story!

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Daniele Ickes said...

You're one of a kind, Linda! Some tutors limit their student-teacher relationship inside the classroom. They don't care about the student's personal issues. In your case, you helped Stephen even he's at the hospital. You gave him hope, though he's terminally ill. I hope our generation can have tutors with the same attitude as you. More students will be inspired to learn with passionate mentors like you. :)

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Jan Haskins said...

Im all misty-eyed after reading this. You're a very kind person and you were blessed by having a real life angel be a part of your life. He may not be with you anymore, but he is with you in your heart, and probably the hearts of your readers as well. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience with us!

Jan @ GradePowerLearning.com