Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Teachers… teach.

“The difference between school and life?  In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.  In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”  That little bit of wisdom comes from American Author Tom Bodett, a name you likely know from the famous Motel 6 campaign, whose adlibbed tagline was “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

This past weekend, I attended a memorial service for two teachers, one whose influence is still a part of my everyday existence as his musical thumbprint is on my heart.  Looking back, it is incredible to me how teachers provide lessons far beyond what is offered in the classroom, sometimes just as they roam the halls and schoolyards.  Certainly this was true of Herman and Pat (Patricia) Fischer, as I caught glimpses of quiet moments and conversations between the two of them – especially after someone finally pointed out that they were married, not brother and sister as I first assumed.  Wha?!  Sort of groovy cool, almost jazz-cat like Herman Fischer was married to stoic, wife of the Founding Fathers-ish Pat Fischer?!  It took me awhile before I could wrap my head around the phrase, “Every pot has a lid.”  But witnessing those two helped.  A lot.

Mr. Fischer was the Choral Director of WHS and I spent many, many hours in his Choir Room, either with fellow musically and theatrically minded classmates at brunch and  lunch and as a member of the mixed choir, treble choir, Madrigal choir – in fact ever choir that was ever made available (which, I believe, explains an awful lot about my deficits in math, science and other academic areas that I now, as an adult, am required to turn to the kindness of strangers for).  Therefore, the bulk of life lessons learned in high school – were in that Choir Room, where Mr. Fischer directed not only the music, but was instrumental in slapping a big ol’ diminuendo on many of the teenage dramas we carried into his classroom.

Mr. and Mrs. Fischer managed to teach their students on so many levels, often just by asking a simple question, having nothing to do with a textbook, when one of them would look you in the eye and say, “What do YOU think?”  Then, there was also the schooling that came as a result of lapses in judgment when a student would challenge their authority (rarely done, I assure you, especially with Mrs. Fischer).

I did not have the good fortune to have the Missus Fischer as a teacher, and to be perfectly honest with you – when I was a smartmouthed 14 year old, I was secretly very, very (did I say very?) glad about that – as the woman intimidated me.  Greatly.  Despite her petite stature (I was about five feet tall as a freshman and I think I towered at least a full inch and a quarter over her), Mrs. Fischer made me terribly nervous.  It wasn’t until I grew up, and was slightly more seasoned, that I began to fully grasp that that woman was, far and above, one of the greatest examples of strength and dignity that I could ever hope to have.  With a firm jaw, steely-eyed stare and the most wicked (judiciously used) grin,  – Mrs. Fischer could stop even the tallest, bulkiest big man on campus in their tracks and make them question their very existence in a way I’ve only seen replicated on a movie screen, by the equally great (yet petite) Barbara Stanwyck.  Uh-Hmmm!  They were tiny, but those are women you look up to, right there.  In fact, I still channel my inner Mrs. Fischer and/or Ms. Stanwyck during some of life’s more challenging moments.  And let me tell you… it works for me.

After the memorial for these two incredible educators, I walked around the large gathering and was able to see a bit of the light that each of us was fortunate enough to receive from the Fischers – giving me hope and understanding of these words:  “When you have come to the edge of all light that you know – and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on – or, you will be taught to fly.”

Thank goodness for Mr. and Mrs. Fisher – and teachers everywhere – for their gifts of life’s lessons.  Though we long ago left their classrooms, the bit of light we still carry through our memories, helps to guide us through tests we’ve yet to take.

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

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