Friday, November 7, 2008

A Birthday Tribute to "Mr E" on Sunday Nov 9, 2008

On Sunday, Nov 9, 2008, our family sends our very best wishes to "Mr E" on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

The first time I saw Mr E, he was walking through a hallway jammed with kids at the end of the school day. He was wearing a hat, given to him by the parents of one of his students - since his head was bald from chemotherapy. He's a tall man, and stood out in the crowd of kids and fellow teachers. You could hear a lot of kids calling hello to him. And he cheerily answered back. And I thought who is this man who is clearly sick but so cheerful at the same time?

We would be making his acquaintance soon. We decided our son should join his after-school homework club. I apologized in advance, because our son was not exactly a model student who would sit and quietly do his work. He replied "oh, I can handle him."

The next school year, Mr E's position changed from having a classroom to - well I'm not sure exactly what his title was - but he was working with the more challenging kids. I think he might have been the only teacher in that school to enjoy the challenging kids. Maybe because he had grown up with some of his own issues, maybe cause he was a very creative sort, and would try different things to see what worked. I will forever save what my son wrote about him that 5th grade year. You have to keep in mind that my son never wrote anything, so this was quite a feat:

Life the Mr. E Way

Mr E's room is a safe place like well, a home to me. Mr. E. is a nice guy. He works with kids and he gets paid but he doesn't do it for the money. He does it from the bottom of his heart. He didn't tell me that. I knew it. I know what he's feeling and he knows what I'm feeling. It's like I have a guardian angel on my shoulder....

After our son left that school, we stayed in touch with Mr. E. He retired for a brief period, returned to school as a teacher for a year, came back to a different school in the district as a substitute guidance counselor, and then went back to retirement. But you would hardly call it retirement, cause he's a full-time caregiver to his youngest granddaughter, "the babe." And a chauffeur and a friend and a thousand other roles to his 2 other granddaughters.

One of our favorite activities is having Mr E over for his favorite meal. Grilled cheese sandwiches. With tomato soup. Try as we might, we can't get too fancy with the soup. We tried Panera soup the last time and he informed us he preferred "the usual stuff." I said the usual stuff is Campbells and he said "well that's what I prefer." And potatoes. Any kind. And water. No ice. The only thing he's not particularly picky about is dessert. And it doesn't hurt to have candy around. Chocolate, red swedish fish and red hots will always work.

Mr E has impacted so many families. He was a favorite teacher for the kids as well as the parents. When they took up a collection for his retirement, everyone wanted to donate.

Mr E is also a very gifted writer. I have helped with editing his writings, but honestly, they don't need editing. I'll correct the spelling of a word now and then, but he is a careful thinker and I wouldn't change any of his content.

Mr E is also a very private person and will probably not be happy with this post. When we met him, we all thought of him as this outgoing guy. Well he was that way at school, and he's that way with his family, but that's about it. He's much more of a behind-the-scenes guy. He quietly supports others and does not ever want to be the center of attention. He is a listener and a thinker. And a solid, loyal, loving friend.


Jeanie said...

This is a glorious post, Bonnie. I know how much this man has meant to your family's life and experiences, and having had the pleasure of meeting him once and knowing a bit of his beautiful writing, I can see why this tribute wouldn't just be a "nice thing to write" but a necessity. We all need a Mr. E to be our champion, our friend. You guys are lucky. (But then, he's got you, so it goes both ways.)

Sharon said...

A wonderful post about a wonderful man.

I know how much he has meant to all of you throughout the years, and I am also very aware of what he has meant to so many other families! He truly is a great teacher and, as you point out here (and have told me for many years), he is also a great friend.

Happy birthday, Mr. E!