I was honored to say my name and have her remember me before she turned to someone at the table share about the two weeks of indoor recess while I recovered from my tonsillectomy. I was even more amazed when I extended a hug and a message from another classmate and without skipping a note, Dr. Nolan shared with me more stories of Grace and her sister. Dr. Nolan remains sharp as a tack and I’m just stunned.
Dr. Nolan was truly the first person in my life who I felt believed in me. Distinctly I recall a meeting between my mother and her – I sat at a little table we would use for SSR and listened intently while I pretended to be occupied in the book I thumbed through. “She’s really quite special,” Dr. Nolan said. My mother pursed her lips and nodded. “Her stories are wonderful. Have you considered …” Dr. Nolan already wanted me to be the best I could be. My mom declined even entertaining the idea of me doing any more than was required. At home, the comics I made were crumpled papers and the stories I told were frequently regarded as nonsense.
I thought I was walking around for years holding on to this affinity for someone in my memory with importance, while in her thoughts, I was just another student. And for crying out loud, I was six years old! Did I have a personality then? How could I be memorable?
I sat in a room today with others who had stories of Dr. Nolan. Dr. Nolan was important to each of them for their own reasons. It was lovely. I spoke with ladies who were in her class 20 years before I was there and 10 years after me. Filled with emotion, I cried twice when I spoke with her. I gushed with gratitude for being a part of the afternoon.
I was in the fortunate position of telling someone how important they were to making me the woman I am.
I am lucky to have these figures in my memory and in my life. The importance is in me because of them. I wish I could gather all the important ones together and just say thank you to every one of them.
So, I’m an accountant. And I answer the question, ‘how does an accountant decide to write creatively?’ Well, I’ve always written. But it was never good enough. I realized that the only person my dad spoke of with an inkling of respect was his accountant. I work with numbers. It is not who I am but it is my skill. Is this because from the start, I worked with numbers for that acceptance? Is It because there is no question if my number work is good? It’s not a subjective art. If the bottom line makes sense, I did a good job. My writing doesn’t always make sense. And it’s not as easy to take criticism in my writing because there is not a definitive way of fixing mistakes.
I started writing seriously again about 10 years ago. I’ve gotten credit for my writing in the past five years. I’ve even made some money from it. Dr. Nolan is a reason I write. Ms. Beverly Carmene, my chemistry teacher from high school is yet another reason. I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to thank them in person for being so important. Sadly, Ms. Carmene passed away before I was writing again and it may have been the news of her death that triggered a surge in my story. Today I was able to personally give thanks to Dr. Nolan.
I’ve become more comfortable telling people I write. I used to be the accountant who writes. Now I am the writer who works as an accountant still.
Why am I writing today? I walked through the morning with an intention to announce how important it is to tell those who are just how. But there’s something else at play in my thoughts. I’m thinking about my cub scouts. I’m thinking about my kids and their friends and everyone with whom I connect. I’m thinking about the friends we played with in the schoolyard and which ones remember me and which ones don’t.
This winter past, I met up with some kids with whom I went to elementary school. The first girl I smoked with. My first drinking buddy missed the night. The boy for whom we met didn’t remember me. It was – alarming. It could have been embarrassing or humiliating if I was a different person. But honestly it amused me that he did not remember me. I considered then his importance in my memories. The importance of how he made me who I am now. I considered then, as I’m thinking now, who remembers me that escapes my mind? For whom was I important?
For whom AM I important? Not that compassion and care we have to check on our fellow human beings – but who has contributed to the attributes I have and who has discouraged poor behaviors of mine? Who left a piece of them with me that I can’t ever return? For whom am I that type of important?
I’m a different person than I was at six years old, of course. (Mostly I suppose. Maybe there is some six year old me left inside?) I’m in a different place in my life for sure than I was then. (I’m in a different place in my life than five years ago, for crying out loud!) But in seeing Dr. Nolan today and talking to many people who also were influenced by this amazing woman, it occurs to me that every moment of importance makes me who I am.
Thank you to all of you! Everyone in my past and present and those of you I haven’t met yet. You make me me. And that’s a pretty great thing to be a part of.