MORE THAN JUST A TEACHER
"Hello," I said as I picked up the telephone.
There was no answer. All I could hear was someone quietly sobbing in the background.
"Hello," I said again.
"Roger, it's Mrs. Harrell," said a faint, shaky voice.
"How are you?" I asked.
"Not too good," she replied.
Mrs. Harrell had been my Grade 1 teacher more than 45 years ago. She is the woman who probably saved my life when she had me taken away from my step-grandparents, who beat me unmercifully for months and months. and then tried to have me placed in a mentally retarded center for children. She was the only person who had guts enough to stand up against the system to save an innocent little 5-year-old boy.
"Roger, I read your book and I was up all night. I'm so sorry that I caused all this to happen to you," she whispered as she continued to weep.
"Mrs. Harrell, you did what you had to do and you did the right thing. You saved my life and that is what is most important," I replied."
“I really didn't know that orphanages could be like concentration camps when I had you sent there," she sobbed.
It hurt me to know that something I wrote would end up hurting the very person who had saved me as a child - a wonderful woman who stood all alone against the system, just to save "a big eared little kid that nobody else wanted."
"Roger, I hope that you are happy now," she said.
I sat there very silent, unable to tell her that I, though grown man, am still that same little boy from the orphanage when I wake up each and every morning.
"For the sake of children, the world really needs to read what you have written and I hope they make a movie out of it one day, but I guess I won't be around to see it," she said with a quaint laugh.
"Well, Mrs. Harrell, you know what they say, ‘the book is always better then the movie.’”
She was quiet for several seconds and then said, "Roger, I will have someone contact you when I am gone."
"That will be a very sad day for me, Mrs. Harrell," I said.
"Roger, don't be sad for me. I'll be upstairs looking down and I am sure that you will be just fine."
"Mrs. Harrell, could you do me one favor?" I asked.
"What might that be Roger?"
I stuck my index finger in my mouth like a 5-year-old child would do and said, "When you get up to heaven, could you tell them about my book?"
You know, I never knew that a 92-year-old woman could laugh so loud and so hard.
Thank you Mrs. Harrell.