Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You, Mrs. Camp

It began with a simple question. “Did you know Mrs. Camp lives down the hall?” My mother asked this one day after she’d settled into her new home at the assisted living center. “Number 4.”

Joyous, I went to room 4, knocking lightly. I didn’t know if she’d recognize me. After all, it had been more than 40 years since we’d seen each other. “Oh, Ramona! Do come in!” Spry and bright-eyed, with the same hair style she’d had 40 years before, now a crown of pure white. “Sit down and tell me about these books you write!”

Mrs. Fay Camp taught first grade for almost 50 years. (That room there on the right is where she taught me.) She raised up thousands of bank tellers, doctors, lawyers, factory workers . . . and more than one writer. She had a gift for spotting natural talent, and she knew how to deal with active children who read too much. Even heading into her 90s, she still taught those around her, speaking little of herself (she missed her home) or her illnesses (she was on dialysis).

Instead, she focused on whoever stood before her. For me, it was as if no time had passed.

But time does pass. So do we. As I write this on Tuesday night, I’m preparing to go say one final goodbye to Mrs. Camp. She was 93.

There are tears, but there are also great prayers of thanks. I’m thankful she taught me to read, to write, to use my imagination. I’m grateful I had a chance to visit her again, and to say thanks for all she’d done.

When I dedicated a book to her, she cried, telling me it was a great honor. To me, it was the least I could do.

So this Thanksgiving, I’m saying numerous prayers of thanks for the people in my life who have helped and loved and taught . . . and generally made me the woman I am. I hope I serve them well.

And I hope you ALL have a glorious Thanksgiving with lots of hugs and time to let people you love that they matter.


PamelaTracy said...

We need more Mrs. Camps.

Marti Pieper said...

I spent time with my family, not online, over Thanksgiving, but I wanted to thank you for this post. I had more than one "Mrs. Camp" and am grateful you've had the opportunity to extend such love and gratitude to yours. Thanks for sharing!