Backwards and in Heels

My mother taught high school English, Speech, and Journalism. She discovered rather late in her college career how much she enjoyed Journalism. Perhaps if she had found out earlier she would have majored in it.

As it was, she graduated with a degree that they called an area in English. It consisted of course work in all the subareas of English, Speech, Theater, and Journalism. She also took enough Education courses to qualify for a teaching certificate. She did her student teaching at Lone Oak High School in Lone Oak, Kentucky, a suburb of Paducah, Kentucky.

She was offered a position teaching there even before she graduated and she took it. She became the sponsor of the Oak K, the school paper. I remember how hard she and her staff worked to put the paper out.

She also directed the plays and took interested students to Speech tournaments. And, as if that wasn’t enough, my dad did much the same job at Paducah Tilghman High School. Except Tilghman had a dedicated Journalism teacher so dad didn’t have a school paper on his plate.

After a couple of years of overachieving, and a petty, insecure, jealous boss, mom finally had what was called a nervous breakdown. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I’m told that they no longer consider nervous breakdowns a diagnosis. I do know that after she quit teaching she battled depression for the rest of her life.

She wrote for as long as I was old enough to be aware of it. She joked that she had given up on writing the great American novel and was currently working on the great American paragraph. I read some of her essays. They were what would be called features in the newspaper business. They were always very entertaining. The world will never know what they missed out on.

My mother is not the reason I am striving to be a writer. I’d like to think she’d enjoy what I write and be proud of me. In any case I miss her.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.