I Love You, Miss Reed

I was just digging through some boxes of old papers, and came across this small, yellowed card. In perfectly penned letters, it said:

Dear “Moonbeam,”

Thank you for the stationary. I love it because it’s so pretty, but most of all I love it because it came from my very special friend. I love you, Moonbeam.– Betty Reed

I got all sad and sappy and teary as my mind rewound back to first grade. Miss Reed was my teacher, and I adored her. I attended an upscale private school (on scholarship), and I was a weed among roses. Most of my classmates were very wealthy and immaculately dressed, and while many of them were driven to school in Cadillacs and Lincolns, I was hauled there from the shabby side of town on a little school bus (my younger brother once beat the hell out of a kid for ordering me to the back of the bus so that he could sit down. The kid felt justified, since his father had bought the bus).

Anyway, I’m not whining, I’m just remembering. My parents fought constantly, so I slept little at night. My dad was always trying to beat my mom to a pulp, and my mom was kind of busy trying to stay alive, so we kids were a bit neglected. We were afraid much of the time. I also didn’t eat a lot.

So there I was, this unkempt, exhausted, hungry little mess. Home was hell, and so was school. My classmates weren’t real nice much of the time, and neither were the teachers. There was no real retreat. But then, there was Miss Reed.

She was so kind to me. I remember her as being young-ish and pretty, with a warm voice and a gentle smile. She had frosted hair and frosted lipstick. She loved me despite my wrinkled clothes, my tendency to create an alternate reality for myself (also known as lying), and my inability to concentrate in class. She was thrilled by my reading skills (in first grade, I read at an eighth grade level), and fostered in me a lifelong love of the English language. Forty years later, I remember every hug and kind word she bestowed on me.

I have this fantasy that when we die, we’re shown a film of our lives, and all the people we impacted in a positive way. I think most of us would be surprised at the beauty of it all, and at the numbers of those whose lives we affected. I believe that my first grade teacher understood my world, and for a few hours a day, she decided to love me. It changed my life for the better. I’ll be in your film, Miss Reed. I’ll always love you.

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9 thoughts on “I Love You, Miss Reed

  1. Brian says:

    What an absolutely beautiful post! I love your stories and Miss Reed sounds like a great person. I wonder who’s film I’ll be in???

  2. Awwww…thanks Brian. She really was wonderful. I’ll bet you’ll be in lots of people’s films. :)

  3. awriterinthedesert says:

    That really was a beautiful story. And what a lovely woman that Miss Reed! It’s amazing how we don’t realize what will stay with us for a lifetime, how much something means to us at the time it’s happening . . . I mean, when you were in first grade how could you know that Miss Reed would still be in your thoughts decades later? Thanks for sharing that story.

  4. Thanks so much. It’s so odd, because I’m sure that Miss Reed didn’t think she was doing anything special- she was just being her sweet self. But sometimes, things that mean nothing to us are huge to someone else. This sounds hokey, but I try to remember that sometimes, just a kind word to a stranger may be the nicest thing that’s happened to them that day. I know that’s been true for me before.

  5. ouiser says:

    A few years ago I was site director for a teen program and put my job on the line for a wheelchair-bound kid. The Ex. Dir. didn’t want to penny up to make our space wheelchair accessible and put it on my shoulders to convince his mother this wasn’t the right program for her son. However, i met Shane once and made it my mission from that moment to keep him in my program! I was supposed to prepare a long explanation about the barriers and obstacles his attendance would pose to our program to share with the board of directors, but instead, I whipped out a 2-page summary of how his participation would improve our program. The bosses where not happy! Amazingly, the board still shot it down when they heard the cost of bringing up the building to meet code. Meet code? Hmm… the paralegal in me went with that. I researched the laws pretaining to access and printed them out for his mother. A couple months later, we were all drug into a big meeting with the organizations attorney and Shane’s new ADA rep. WE WON!! He stayed! Our program was moved to a new part of the building and all was well! Well, except for me. They went after my job with a vengence, but I hung on for a couple more years before they finally squeezed me out. Within months of my leaving, they changed the age range for the program and “aged Shane out.” Last year, I attended Shane’s funeral (he lost his battle with Duchenne’s MD) and I’ve never felt more proud of myself for having stood up for someone! His mother is one of the most wonderful people I’ve met and for a few years, I helped her have a somewhat normal life by allowing her son to go to after school care like normal kids do. For me, there has never been a greater reward than the experiences I share with Shane and his family! Sorry… I know this is long but I felt inspired!

  6. What a great story! I love stuff like this (my dad was disabled, and I’ve worked with disabled folks a lot). I know you got as much from knowing Shane and his mother as he did from knowing you. A win-win, all the way around. Keep rocking the boat!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. romi41 says:

    Oh my gosh that was SO beautiful! It got me all teary-eyed!! I’m so glad that post of mine reminded you of this, otherwise I wouldn’ have even gotten to read it!!

    Seriously, that whole bit about the film of our lives, lovely, lovely stuff :-)

  8. @ romi: Thank you– I’m glad you found my blog. It allowed me to find yours, which I’m really enjoying! I love your misfit memories– as you can see, I was one too.

  9. anonymous says:

    Hi moonbeammcqueen,

    I found ur blog randomly…I found myself teary-eyed too…I love ur post maybe because I too relate to ur same poosition as a young girl and I too had a mentor who treated everyone equally. She still serves at my school(alma mater) and time and again I remember for her compassion and true calling of a teacher. the post just reminded me of her. thank you. I know someone really cared for me. She will be in my film too. :)

    Anonymous, I love your comments. Thanks for stopping by here– I’m glad we both had Miss Reeds.

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