Many years ago, I stumbled across Mitch Albom’s best-selling book, Tuesdays with Morrie. It was one of those thought-provoking reads, which developed the universal theme that regardless of who we are or where we come from, we share the same uncertainties about living and dying. His overlying idea got me to thinking about what it truly means to be human. I must admit, I can’t offer a succinct, well-thought-out answer, even now, decades later, but then, the great philosophers beginning with Socrates, only scratched the surface of that question. As long as people live, they will wonder, right?
But I digress…
The book gave me what I believe is the greatest idea of my teaching career. Tuesday cards. I thought that if Morrie was able to share his insight and knowledge with his student, then so could I. I decided that on Tuesday an index card with whatever my kiddos wanted to write to me was their ticket to admission to my class. I encouraged them to ask questions, make observations, lodge complaints, share jokes, or whatever else they chose as the important topic of the day. And in exchange, I agreed to respond to each one of them. It was a lofty goal, as each Tuesday night I sat at my kitchen table answering 100 or more cards. But as the weeks turned into months, something magical happened: I developed a personal, ongoing relationship with each of them. They began to trust me with their thoughts, soliciting my advice on everything from choosing a college to mending a broken heart. And as I learned throughout my career, the teacher sometimes becomes the student as the entire experience taught me a great deal about what I believe to be true and real and honest.
I have come to realize that life is filled with ironies, twists of fate that we often allow to pass us by without a second thought. Tuesdays continue to be significant, not just because it is senior discount day at my favorite store, but also because now I spend it in the chemo chair. It takes hours for the slow drip of the poison which keeps me alive to finish. There isn’t much that you can do to occupy the time other than read or listen to music. I do both, but I also pray and think about these blog posts. I jot down ideas that seem to come to me as I sit tethered to the infusion pump. Maybe my muse feels sorry for me in my boredom and shows up to fuel my imagination. I’m glad that she does.
Like Morrie, I hope to drop some pearls of wisdom from my sick bed, to share what I am currently learning from my battle with cancer. And if, by some chance, an idea stays with you and you find yourself rethinking how you look at life, then, most certainly, I have accomplished something big. We all hope for a legacy, a bit of ourselves to leave behind. This is mine.