Friday, November 20, 2015

Lesson 389: Proper Nouns

What if today was your last day on earth?
How would you live it?
Eloise is curious.

I don't want to know about where you would travel,
or what you would eat,
or how you would live out your last minutes
(let's keep this blog clean).
I want to know what you would SAY.

Your weekend homework assignment is this:
What advice would you give to those you will leave behind?

The Harborcreek Community (special places are capitalized because they are Proper Nouns)
lost some special people this week.
One, a woman I never met,
but knew of, ended her three year battle with cancer.
 Her children were students in our schools.
When one of us suffers,
we all feel the pain.

Another was one of my Favorite People,
capitalized because he taught me that proper nouns are important,
and that they stand out from the rest.

Tim Miller, in the early years my teacher,
and in the later years, my colleague,
passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday.

Three beers later and the Lamp Post minus one box of Kleenex 
I'm finally able to continue writing.
Tim was my fourth grade teacher,
and also my fifth and sixth grade English teacher.
He taught me how to write.

A Novel Idea is a six month series that will teach you how to write a novel. You'll have a first draft by the summer!:

Gotcha covered tonight, Ray.

The flag at Clark School, 
where Tim taught and touched lives for 32 years,
flew at half mast.

The sign out front expressed a collective sentiment 
that we somehow hoped he was able to see.

To his children Jon and Emily:
Your father was a special person who will never be forgotten.
He loved you dearly and we know more about you than you would ever believe.

If you are a Reader (again, proper nouns/important nouns, need capitalized)
and know Jon or Emily--please share my post with them.

#writing quote #- journaling as a young mom for my daughter to read someday.:

When people move on from this life,
the survivors share stories of them
to offer comfort and solace.

My favorite story of Mr. Miller is this:

Nine years ago, I was hired at my Alma Mater to pioneer a program for the gifted and talented.  I returned to the school I attended as a student; this time as a teacher.  At the first in-service day, I was most anxious to talk with one of my Favorite Teachers (important nouns are proper nouns and need capital letters).  I wanted to reintroduce myself to Mr. Miller, and tell him how much I learned from him.  

"Mr. Miller...." I hesitantly said, as I peered in the doorway of his classroom on a hot August day in 2007, "I don't know if you remember me or not but I was Elaine Ov....."  I never got to finish my sentence before he jumped up from his desk and took five quick paces across the classroom to greet me with a welcoming hug.

"Remember you?  My God!  I've used your essay as an example for years!  In fact, I have it here somewhere."  He rifled his file cabinet, pulling folders with his nimble fingers searching for a 30 year old sheet of tablet paper.

Mr. Miller, who now insisted that I call him Tim, reminded me of an essay I penned as a fourth grader in 1980--comparing the Girl Scouts to Communists.  I cringed at the thought of what I had written way back then.  Tim just laughed and said, "You really made some great points!  You were so shy and withdrawn as a child, but the second I put a pen in your hand, the True You came out."

The True Me tonight is 10 years old,
and afraid.

The True Me wants Mr. Miller to know that he will be missed terribly,
but remembered fondly,
and his life was well lived.

Rest in peace, my Dear and Respected Friend (capital letters.....)

Thank you for teaching me what "the lee of the stone" meant,
that Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is the best children's book ever,
and that drawing out a diagram of what was happening in a novel is an important teaching tool.
Your life lives on in my teaching.

Tim passed into his next life on Monday.
On Tuesday, I had to travel to Edinboro University in the evening for a school related meeting.
For the locals, you know that in order for Mrs. Eloise to get there from the Lamp Post,
I had to take Interstate 90.

It was a busy night on the highway for some reason.
I noted that as I took my time trying to ease into the lane from the entrance ramp.
A few minutes later, I was crossing the bridge that towers over Six Mile Creek.

Here is a photo of it when it was under repair a few years ago:

The distance between the bridge and the creek below is significant.
Eloise could not venture to guess how many feet it actually is.
Writing is my thing,
Math is not.

Tim had passed away only the day before,
so I used the quiet time alone in the car to say a prayer for his family and friends who miss him.

I was about two-thirds of the way across the bridge when I witnessed an accident in front of me.
An 18 wheeler side-swiped an Equinox. 
The impact was so great that the Equinox tipped onto its two right wheels at a 45 degree angle.
I still remember the sparks.
Mrs. Eloise was the car behind the Equinox.

The Equinox, which I have determined is part Sherman Tank,
was able to right itself and pull off onto the berm of the road.
I pulled off as well, to give my information as a witness to the accident.
The semi never stopped.
It just kept going.

Moments later, I found a rattled diver,
and destroyed driver's side of a brand new Equinox.
But we were both alive and for that, we hugged and gave thanks.

How it was that the Equinox didn't flip over that bridge, I'll never understand.
Maybe it's just physics.
Maybe it's just faith.
Whatever the reason, you are reading this blog tonight,
instead of attending my funeral.

This week was enough to make Eloise think about 
what lasting words I would leave to my loved ones.

I've chosen two, 
stolen from my Favorite Country Singer (capital letters.....),
Tim McGraw.


Tonight's photo video is set to Tim McGraw's new song Humble and Kind.
It is currently sitting next to Cowboy in Me as Eloise's Favorite (proper nouns...)
The song is from his new album Damn Country Music.
It is a Must Purchase (proper nouns stand out from the rest) if you are a music lover.

Tim McGraw,
who happens to share his name with Tim Miller
sings about the importance of staying Humble--
a word made famous in Charlotte's Web,
a book read to me by Tim Miller when I was 10 years old.

Sure, Wilbur was Some Pig,
but he remained humble throughout his praise.

I love the word "kind." 
I like how it looks,
and I especially like how is sounds when it exits my mouth.
Say it.
Isn't it a pretty word?

in the modernized movie version,
gives us this advice.
Who are we to ignore Cinderella?

Tomorrow at 11:00,
I will pay respects to my Favorite Teacher
in a good and Proper Noun way.
I'll say goodbye to him in the Clark School gymnasium,
with hundreds of others whose lives he touched.

Peace to you tonight, My Dear Readers,
even if you are a Girl Scout or a Communist.
Time heals all wounds,
and I have since matured and forgiven you.



Jon Miller said...

This is absolutely beautiful. -Jon Miller

Peggy Pongratz said...

I am speechless at your eloquence. Tim Miller was a special, wonderful man. As I told each of my children of his inconceivably untimely passing, they choked up and the tears came. Consider how very few teachers evoke such a response from past students. One in a million. Yet all three of my twenty-somethings, fifteen years later, all felt the loss. Jon & Emily, you will be in our prayers.

Emily Johnson said...

Incredibly touching. I have reread it countless times. You have created a Powerful Tribute (proper nouns stand out from the rest). - Emily (Miller) Johnson

gmoney said...

Eloquent Words that will bring strength to many at a time when there are no words...


Amy Collins said...

I loved Mr. Miller. I was a child in an abusive foster home, and he always was there to make me laugh, and take myself away in books. Because of him, I am The Grammar friends, strangers, so be it. RIP and Thank You.