So today I did something I would have rather not had to do. In fact, when I got up this morning I tried to think of a reason not to, I went to the funeral of one of my former students. He was sixteen years old and was killed in a car/train accident that also took the life of his grandfather. Tony wasn't a perfect kid by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a student I was very fond of. Ornery is one way to describe him. He had little brown eyes and they would shine when he was thinking of doing something he shouldn't be doing. I saw the gleam many a time. In seventh grade he and a girl named Nancy were wildly, madly in love. In fact their relationship last for almost two months! That is how serious it was! But then the love turned sour and they would break up, get back together, etc. I just remember that every time they "broke up" he would ask out one of her best friends and that would cause major drama in my seventh hour class. Tony enjoyed every minute of the drama and having those girls fight over him. I have to laugh now thinking about it, the girls would be mad, near tears and Tony would just set back. The reason I think of this particular story was I saw all three girls at the funeral today.
I had this group of kids my first year back to teaching after a five years hiatus. I lived way out in the country 9-20 miles from the three little towns near us. I thought at least none of them will ever be able to find my house and TP it or egg it. Well, about two or three months into the school year Tony burst in the room and announced I know where you live! My grandma knows you too! I do believe his grandparents had lived down the road from us for awhile.
One thing I really enjoyed about this morning was seeing so many of the students I had in the past. After the service there were hugs, tears, and a lot of laughs. They started telling stories of things they had done with Tony. Now normally these stories wouldn't have been shared with any teachers, but I have to say my spirits were definitely uplifted to be around these young adults and talk to them. When you know them as a 13 year old they can sometimes make you doubt yourself and what you are actually accomplishing as a teacher. Sometimes they, at that age, can make you actually doubt humanity and the future. But as young adults they are uplifting, out in the world trying as best they can. Today they weren't a 13 year old who forgot to do their homework they were: a state champion soccer player, baseball players who served as a pall bear for their teammate, wrestlers, thespians, fast food workers, a tomboy turned girly girl, no longer young kids, but future adults.
Of course after hearing the stories I am once again reminded of the things boys that age do. Right now I am trying to figure out how to keep my kid nine forever. I took Jonathon to school with me one day when I had those kids. He took this rug he had with roads and stuff printed on it and some hot wheels to play with, some the kids there today remembered laying of the floor with him playing hot wheels.
Please remember Tony and his family and friends in your prayers. I know in the coming days, weeks , and months they will need them.