I can’t make my mind focus on food today or this week. It has been the perfect storm of emotions. I turned 44 which in itself isn’t a bad thing at all. I take inventory of life much more, where I have been and where I am going. I planned on having so much more completed by now. I wrote this poem when I was in graduate school a couple of decades ago
I thought I would be famous by 25, obscenely wealthy and traveling to the exotic regions of the planet.
I work fast food with a biker chick named Janet.
I was going to live on my own with no help from my parents, and live in a European mansion eating strudel.
I live on Ramen noodles.
I was going to be a photographer for National Geographic and drive my Range Rover to my home in the Keys.
I’m still in school and with Janet at Mickey Dee’s
I was going to write a novel, a book of poetry and a screenplay and fly to the coast to make a deal to make me rich.
Final Drafts are a bitch.
I was going to attend plays on Broadway and jet down for weekends of tennis at Hilton Head.
I watch reruns and listen to The Grateful Dead.
I was going to conquer the literary world and put myself and my parents in retirement.
I write poems like this and shop consignment.
I was going to have all this and more, expecting my Pulitzer any day.
Hell, I didn’t want peak too soon anyway.
Now- I don’t work on McDonalds, but there are some writing dreams still unfulfilled. I don’t really value the Range Rover so much as I do a paid for and running car. I still shop consignment, and Final drafts are still a bitch.
My birthday combined with missing my dad terribly. I thought a year and half would make the pain a smidge less, but I still missed his card. One simple card. I still can’t listen to the first part of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” without tears, a massive amount of tears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFk-kiDW_tA
My grandmother, his mom, at 97 struggled this week with some health issues. She struggles every day with the loss of her son.
Mrs. Peggy Cottey a name that will not be the headlines, passed away this week. She was the high school English teacher in Shirley, Arkansas for 30 years. Pancreatic cancer finally overtook this mighty woman. Her teaching influenced my career and life choices and multiply that by all the students she loved and cared for. I wonder if my life could be as a speck bright as hers and this motivates in a much different way than in my twenties to have a different type of success. I am so grateful to Momma Cottey and her drive to make each student feel valuable as a person and to reach beyond themselves for things that they didn’t know were possible.
I am also including the words of one of my fellow classmates, who was blessed enough to speak with her before she passed away. I think he says it well.
“It is with much conflict that I post these words. I only do this to pay homage to one of the most influential people I have ever known. It’s been said that “to teach is to touch lives forever”. The author is unknown, but those words have never been more true about Mrs Peggy Cottey.
I was truly blessed to have spoken to Mrs. Cottey a couple weeks ago. I will cherish our conversation for the rest of my life. I didn’t know how to go about talking to her, or what to say…. But that quickly changed as I heard her voice. I found myself at absolute attention as her words dug in to my very soul as they did in High School. When this woman spoke, it was absolute wisdom in the purest form. Still to this day in our conversation her spirit had a way of making you WANT to grasp every word she said.
We spoke, she laughed, she explained and I hung on every word this wonderful woman would bless me with. I explained that there would be no reward this side of Heaven to repay her for all the lives she touched. She told me how much she loved her classroom and how her heart was always there….
And this is what I’m compelled to share:
As we continued to speak, She said “y’all remember me the way I was”
She said “y’all” for a reason.
So, I share this because I feel like that’s what she wanted. “Y’all” was everyone who had the chance to know her. This wonderful woman who was such a gift from God himself.
Rest peacefully, Mrs. Cottey and enjoy the deserving reward that only God can give you.”