when the day is done

January 13, 2022, Israel

My Mom; November 26, 2018

Out for lunch with my mom and we bumped into a group of her students, they love her and were so delighted to see her. In the hospice we received messages from the teachers with prayers and good wishes from her students. She was so happy, she kept saying, I guess I really made a difference, I guess I really mattered to those kids. Yes Mom, you certainly did, you made a huge difference in people's lives.  

November 24, 2021, nearly 3 years later, she passed from this world. She struggled with cancer for nearly 2 years, putting up a valiant fight 

When the day is done, when the lights go down and you sit alone, what do you have, who are you? 

When the lights go down, what still lights up your heart?

When the curtains go down, what makes you still want to perform?

When putting one foot in front of another and taking that next step seems like the greatest challenge in the world, what is it that tells you; Do it, keep going, one step at a time?

My dear mother, may she rest in peace, was a teacher. This was her essence; a mother and a teacher. Sometimes she would find it difficult not to correct others when they made a grammatical mistake, (not, me and my friend went to the store, rather, my friend and I went to the store), but she did it in such a loving way that none ever minded. She loved sharing knowledge, history, the source of words.  Did you know that Albino comes from Laban, meaning White in Hebrew? Yes, she loved to share that. Did you know that Scallions come from the city Ashkelon in Israel, and that the Romans who pronounced the name of the city Askelon, brought this word into the English language

When the huge vacuum and the emptiness seem impossible to fill and the next step seems impossible to take, I think of her. In our prayers we say, God bless my father my teacher, my mother my teacher. As a child I wondered about these words; what if your parents are not teachers? What if they have a different job? 

As I grew older I understood; your parents are always your teachers, even if, unlike mine, they had other jobs, not in the educational field. 

So I think of my dear mother and I know what she would say, if you a teacher, you must teach, and it is the greatest reward in the world. A teacher lives to teach. 

I recall years ago, when I still worked in a bank. I had my degrees in Finance. I had my MBA in Business and Finance and I was pursing a career in the financial field, but it was not to be. I was not destined to be a financial tycoon. One day during the afternoon break, I was sitting with my colleague, Hava, who sat next to me in the bank. Hava was not advancing much in her career and had little hope to amount to being more than she was today. She knew it, resented it and felt frustrated. I told her she was just as smart as the others but simply had not been given the opportunity. My college years were still recent and I remembered enough to teach her about stocks, futures, basis points, options etc. So she got it and then something magical happened; her face lit up with joy. 

I shared this experience with my dear mother that day, and I shall never forget her words. "That is the look every teacher waits for. When you see that look, when you yearn for that look, you know you are destined to be a teacher."

And so it was, I became a teacher. 

I recall a story about an old Chinese man, a Gung Fu master. After the Cultural Revolution he had fallen on hard times. Eventually he emigrated to the USA where he had the distinguished job of washing dishes, (I too had this job at one point in my life, I am proud of that). And then in the park he met a young man who wanted to learn the martial art of Gung Fu. Reluctantly the old master accepted the student and they began to train.

Eventually the master wrote, with a student my life is better now, I have a reason to be. With a student life looks brighter.

And so it is, at the end of the day being a teacher makes a difference. With a student life looks better, with a student there is a future and a reason for being. 

May her memory be for a blessing. She touched the lives of countless people throughout her life. And now her seat is empty...

But a teacher lives on...

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