I was 7 years old. I was in first grade at Leesburg Elementary School in northern Indiana. I had one of the most remarkable teachers on the planet. Her name was Judy Frank. There was something about her. She was amazing. She was caring, she was sweet, she was no nonsense. Even after I left first grade, I still visited her classroom to say hello. There was something about her. Even after leaving elementary school, I visited her classroom to say hello. We talked on the phone, sent letters and cards to each other. She was funny, caring, a great listener, and that adult that God places in your life when you’re in junior high and high school and you think your parents make no sense at all. All the while she said the very same things they did. She knew what she needed to say. She was a parent after all; had two sons of her very own. She came to my high school graduation open house and wouldn’t sign my guest book until the very last. She said to me, “I was there at the beginning of your education and I will be there at the end.” Yep – she was the last person to sign my guest book. I hold it dear.
It was that Christmas back in first grade when we had a Christmas convocation in the gymnasium and Mrs. Allen our librarian led all the songs. We sang everything from Frosty the Snowman to the First Noel, and Mrs. Allen would solo Let There Be Peace on Earth, and then bring us all in to sing through the song with her again. I still love that song. The last song we sang was Silent Night. We got through a verse or two with Mrs. Allen, and then as we were dismissed, she had us sing as we were walking back to our classrooms. I was 7, but I have not forgotten that voice. I looked to my right and there she was, singing with a voice that rang sweetly in my ears, and to this day it rings sweetly in my memory. Mrs. Frank – I have not forgotten. In 35 years I have not forgotten that moment in first grade. Silent Night has never been the same.
I hold that moment especially dear since my dear friend left this earth nearly 23 years ago. While I sing that song today, I think back in time to that little town of Leesburg, in a little school on a cold December day, and I smile. My heart is tender and I find myself thankful for the person God sweetly placed in my life so many years ago.
Merry Christmas, Mrs. Frank.