Illness and Its Lessons

Illness  . .  There may be lessons? 




I spent all of one November sequestered at home, forbidden by my doctor to set foot in my classroom or anywhere other than her office for checkups under threat of hospitalization if I disobeyed.  (I was not as bored as I expected to be — a sign that retirement would just be more time to read).  The pneumonia was milder than it might have been because we caught it early.   The nurse prescribed chicken soup, while the doctor dosed out antibiotics and gave me a pneumonia shot.

My kind neighbors went to the grocery store for me, and my kind school colleagues carried lesson plans and papers for grading back and forth . . . and my students sent notes pleading with me to come back.  For the rest of the year, I could get quiet attentiveness by pretending to cough.  My doctor released me just in time for Thanksgiving, with much to give thanks for.

When I was debating retirement plans, I bought a lottery ticket, figuring a win would be a sign.  Instead, I developed sarcoidosis, probably from the mold in our school, an even more undeniable sign that it was time to go, earlier than I had planned.  When I announced my retirement to my students, I told them the other reason that it was the right time: They were such a wonderful group that there was no way another class would have been able to measure up.  One sweet student said, “You can’t leave.”  Then I reminded her that she would be graduating . . . we would leave together.

I enjoy seeing former students out in the world.  It’s sometimes hard for them to move past the formality of “Ms Garrett” . . . one managed it by beginning with Mary Garrett as the intermediate title.  The reverse happened when neighborhood children came to the high school, “Miss Garrett?  I thought you were Mary.”





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