For teachers & kind souls elsewhere

“Ideals and opportunities and social theorizing are just fine, but if you must understand only one thing, it is this: a warm hand and words whispered into the ear are what we want. Paths that can be seen and followed and walked upon are what we most need.

“And in the end, the thing that feeds us, no matter how tenuous, is what we will reach for.”

This excerpt is from Ghostbread, a memoir by Sonja Livingston. University of Georgia Press, 239 pages


Filed under emotion, memoir, NOTED, teaching, education

9 responses to “For teachers & kind souls elsewhere

  1. Scribbly Jane

    Beautiful. We must all go for ‘the thing that feeds us’. The trick is identifying it.

  2. As a young girl, after the sudden death of my father and the mental implosion of my mother, I imprinted upon my piano teacher, Mrs. Evelyn Clites, as a duckling might. Thanks to her gentle voice, kindness, and positive guidance, I healed, and grew up to become a person who could love and be loved. What a gift she gave me.

    • Beautiful, Elizabeth. I think you have a story there, one you have surely already written. But you could pad the above a little and submit it to Six Sentences, a cool site for . . . six-sentence stories:

      • Thank you for the suggestion, Richard. I was unaware of Six Sentences.

        By the way, not too long ago I conquered my fear that Mrs. Clites might have died after all these years and found her, still in the same home on a small lake and with the same piano where I studied with her. What a reunion. At 86, lovely as ever: trim, great posture, and so gentle with me. My husband took lots of pictures of us together.

  3. This post is an excellent reminder that a strong image and a strong quote sometimes make the best essays. Lovely. Especially since so many of your posts are long and carefully reasoned think pieces. Thanks for being an excellent role model and kind commenter on my blog.

  4. Debbie

    After a trying evening preparing a difficult lesson to which the class responded with yawns, and simultaneously battling with my son to tears over his college essay, I needed to read this. We prepare a path to learning. Students choose to take it now … or later … or never… but we prepare the path. Sometimes what is needed most is a friendly reminder, “You can do it.”

    • Amen, Debbie. And a teacher never knows, or seldom, the path she’s opened or the slow-germinating seed she’s planted. Like writing, the process is the point, I guess. That hard lesson you worked on was not wasted, for you, or for some of them.

  5. What strikes me “is this: a warm hand and words whispered into the ear are what we want.” It’s a knockout truth; the heart ever veers toward the presence and the memory of those whose hands and words have warmed us …

    … I recall being with my mother as she died; that’s how it was during her ebbing hours: warm hands and whispers …