(Oscar Wilde once said, "Nowadays, people know the price of everything.... and the value of nothing.").
The other night I was going through things and stumbled upon my old school yearbooks. I haven't look at them in years, and tend to forget about their existence unless we're moving and I happen to drop one (or six) on my foot. But, on that particular night I decided to thumb through two of them, just to see what we had all written to each other when we were just a couple of kids that had no clue what was in store for us.
(Side note: this my fourth grade "class officers" picture. Just what every little girl dreams of.... to perfectly blend in with the boys to the point of actually looking like one. Also, I was our V.P. because the little boy in the "Austin 3:16" shirt had "slim shady" hair and beat me in votes, because there were more girls in our class than boys, and most of the girls had a crush on him.... rude.).
And I read what people had written, laughing at some, reminiscing on others, and then I ran across what my JH/HS Social Studies/Government teacher (same guy) had written to me, my senior year. I've always held a special place in my heart for him, as do many of the kids that I grew up with.... along with the ones before us. We were extremely lucky to have had him as our teacher, as he retired the same year that I graduated. He was just one of those teachers that "got it." He was an amazing teacher, but he also took the time to understand all of us and realized that everyone was different in their own way, and no questions asked, just accepted it.
And did I mention how cool and funny he was? He white water rafted down the Rapids, sky dived, base jumped, bungee jumped, went on safaris, and studied abroad. The man fought for his country in war, loved the same woman for years, and inspired more young people than I can count. All because he believed in them. He didn't care who you were or where you came from, he treated you the same.
"Dear Cat, I want to thank you for all the pleasurable times we've had as teacher-student over the years. Your sharp wit and intelligent mind has been a joy for me. One of these days when I quit this game of teaching, I will look back on the good and bad times. It is you and students like you that will bring a smile to an old mans face. Thanks for the laughs, the smiles, and most of all, your kindness. May you be forever young. -L. Lee"
Firstly, I would just like to say that he is one of the only people that can get away with calling me "Kat" or "Cat" (he always spelled it with a "C" because it cracked him up). The only people that call me that are a select few that I grew up with (maybe, three people?) and him. Mostly, because I hate it. Except from them. Everyone else calls me either Katherine, Katie, or some other random nickname that I've collected over the years.
I would also like to be able to tell you that I see him from time to time and he's still out on one of his many adventures. I hope he is, and I hope whomever told me that he sadly passed away in 2009 was completely wrong. I was told a few years back that he had passed away following a heart attack, which isn't too far fetched considering the fact that we all knew he had a heart condition, and had a couple of heart attacks before. So, it could very well be true, but I truly hope that it isn't.
A kid in our class asked him one time why he still did all of the crazy/adventurous stuff that he knew he shouldn't after his second heart attack. He just smiled and informed us that a life living without fun, excitement, adventure, and love was a life that he just didn't want any part of.
And we all loved him for that.