Tuesday, January 24, 2017

To My Mother's Students

Ladies and gentlemen, and I use the term loosely. 

You know who you are.

Anna Rock.  Jennifer Yoon. Willie Baker.

There are more of you, many more, but yours were the three names I heard the most.

You're the ones she cried about at night.

You're the ones she wondered about for years.

Thank God for social media.

You found each other again, well, at least Jenny and Anna. What happened to Willie? 

It was a complicated story to be the only child of the teacher.

I had an endless supply of older siblings.

Christina Segunda (not sure how to spell that name anymore) invited me to her birthday parties, and I felt so special that I wasn't there as someone's little sister. I attended because I was me (well, sort of).

You also tattled on me.  You'd come around and collect the roll sheets and tell my mom you caught me talking to someone with my desk up.

So, totally like actual siblings. Thank you for bringing that hint of "normalcy" to my somewhat lonely childhood.

Anna Rock let me ride her horse with her. I won't forget that. Ever.

And she sent me home with a box full of My Little Ponies she didn't want anymore.

Now Anna will help carry my mom's casket.

Jennifer hugged my mom so ferociously whenever she happened to run into her that I could feel the love from across the room.

Jennifer has something special going along with my mom for her journey.

I wrote on the chalkboard after school, perfecting the S that's shaped like a swan, while she tidied up, graded papers, worried about you.

Did you know I helped grade your tests?

Did you know she showed me all of the presents she ever gave you?

Did you know that she decided to leave your school when someone felt threatened by her?

Because she asked someone to speak about what it means to be pro-life.

Because she asked someone to speak about what it means to be pro-life when she taught at a Catholic School. Did anyone tell you that? Did anyone tell you that she left you all because she had to stand up for her beliefs? I'm sure, if you didn't know already, that it comes as no surprise.

I know she loved you.

Sometimes I hated that she loved you.

She holed herself up in the spare room, grading, planning, thinking about you, when I wanted her to  be thinking about me.

Later, deep into her cancer struggle, she talked to you about her pain, her fear.

She didn't talk to me that way. She protected me.

I pushed her on that once. Then let it go.  She needed what she needed. End of story.

I am so grateful that you got to know her beyond the classroom, that she had the chance to keep right on loving you.

When we filled out her death certificate, we had to put her occupation.  She had a few careers - did you know that?  Eligibility Worker, Dispatcher, Probation Officer.  But we told the funeral director (incidentally our former dentist - how does that happen?) to put down TEACHER.

Because that's what she was. A teacher. Through and through.

How many years? They needed to know. We said seven. Really, it's decades.

Even after she left one school, founded another, and then changed careers entirely, she never stopped teaching, did she?  

Which brings me to my next point.

In lieu of flowers, we have established the Sabine Krygier Memorial Scholarship at Brandman University.  We will award the scholarship to moms who are returning to school to get their teaching credentials. I (and maybe my dad) will help select the best candidates. Maybe we'll bring one of you along to be on the interview panel (and hopefully panels for years to come). Because you knew what it meant to be her kind of teacher. I can privately share details about how to donate (and will post the link here once it's live).

Updated 1.25.17:

For all who are interested, the link to donate to the Sabine Krygier Memorial Scholarship is now live: We are seeking to support moms returning to school for their teaching credentials, just as my mama did nearly 30 years ago. Education is the most powerful tool. My mama taught me this, and I lived it and honored her by getting all those grades and extras I needed to attend Cal. I earned scholarships. I worked 20+ hours a week. I did it in honor of both of my parents who showed me that no matter what, education MATTERS. In light of everything happening in our country right now, we MUST support education and future educators.

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