On a First Name basis

Facebook may be considered passe,  but it has enabled me to reach out and find people who made a significant impact on my life.

One of these was my elementary school teacher Mrs. L.   She was the upper grade English teacher at my parochial school.  A mere 4’11”, she was nonetheless respected as one tough cookie and a force to be reckoned with on a daily basis.   She encouraged, no, pushed us as students to achieve more, read more, write more than your typical middle school students.  I read literature in her class that I would find again in my high school  and college English classes.  She taught us to think and how to debate like a champ. While she failed in her attempt to get my childhood cursive to look like the examples in a penmanship primer, she did support my voracious reading habits by giving me increasing harder assignments than the rest of the class and taught me that people knew when I was “slacking”. (Yes, I did read an easy book for the book report and phone that one in, Mrs. L.).

And when she was in charge of the school play in my eighth grade year, she made a point of giving some of us who were always chorus and bit players, lead roles.  For that Mrs. L, Cassie, Andrea and I thank you.  Like Andy Warhol said, we all have to have our 15 minutes of fame, even in middle school.  I was an amazing Mirror on the wall to Cassie’s evil stepmother.

After I went out-of-state for college, I lost track of Mrs. L.  Thirty some odd years later, I got a friend request from her on Facebook.  Through interchanges and postings, we’ve gotten to know each other as adults.  We’ve discovered we both love Halloween and haunted places, and that she used to dress up each year as a witch when her kids were young.  We’ve traded memories and photos.  Its been a wonderful trip with one of my favorite teachers, but there is one request of hers I just can’t honor.

“Please don’t call me Mrs. L.  Call me Regina”

Even after all this time, I can’t call her by her first name.  It’s not out of courtesy or fear, but respect.   Because when a person makes that much of a mark on your formative years and still remembers you years later, the old rules apply.  Mrs. L, you may have been shy of five feet, but you were a giant in my world.  And giants are never called by their first names.

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