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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tales From The Classroom

("Tales from the Classroom" is a feature posted occasionally here at this blog.  All tales are true and present matters about which I have personal knowledge.  The following tale relates the story of a particularly poignant moment that occurred the Friday before Mother's Day in 1984 when I was teaching fourth grade.  Every year, as Mother's Day approaches, I remember that day in my classroom.   Note: If you must have politics, please scroll down to other posts)

I knew that K.L., a stunningly beautiful Filippina and a slightly-above-average student, had been adopted by her aunt and uncle shortly after both her parents died when she was about three years old.   Until that day in 1985, she had never spoken of her mom and dad.  "I don't remember them," she used to say.  Furthermore, she had bonded well with her extended family.

The official story about K.L.'s parents: they had died together in a car accident. Not so.

Some nine years earlier in the Philippines, K.L. had been at home with her mom and dad. For whatever reason, her father shot and killed her mother, then took his own life.  This horror — in front of K.L., sitting for several hours in the house where her dead parents lay.  K.L. was covered in her parents' blood when she was found by a neighbor many hours later.  She was in shock, of course, and remained mute for several months.

In my classroom during that Mother's Day art project (a bit of student-written verse and the making of a card in which to insert that poem), K.L. remembered everything she had witnessed and experienced.  Between wrenching sobs, wailed: "My father killed my mother, then killed himself!"

I abruptly dismissed the other students to the playground for an unscheduled recess and phoned K.L's aunt, who first gasped, then confirmed the story.  She immediately came to the school so as to take K.L. to see their parish priest for an emergency meeting.

K.L. returned to class on Monday.  Neither of us has ever mentioned what happened that Friday before Mother's Day 1985, but upon her return she gave me a hug and said, "Thank you."

So, where is K.L. today?  Not long ago, I found her via Facebook and friended her.  Now a property manager for a real estate company, she is married and has three children: two sons and a daughter; she refers to them as "my little reasons."  I'm certain that Mother's Day for her now is a day of celebration — as it should be.

12 comments:

  1. What a terrible thing for a child to experience. It seems she had held it in and needed to let it out, it came out all at once. She seems to have recovered. I know she appreciates the way you handled it. We are all so blessed NOT to have experience tragedy like your student.

    Debbie
    Right Truth
    http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

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    1. PS I get double pleasure today, it is Mother's Day and my birthday

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    2. Debbie,
      Happy Birthday!

      -----------------

      I'm not sure that K.L. actually remembered what happened until something in class that day triggered the memory. Perhaps a paean-to-mother selection in our reading book? I know that we read a moving selection before the art activity began.

      K.L. received subsequent counseling from the parish priest, but not many sessions. Her extended family -- a family of deep Christian faith -- wrapped her with love and nurturing; she was greatly cherished because, at that time, she was the only girl in that generation; all the children were boys, and it was a very large extended family.

      She has been married for over 10 years and states about her husband: "He's still my best friend."

      K.L. is still stunningly beautiful.

      The situation could have turned out much differently. I'm so glad things have worked out for K.L.

      Delete
  2. Children have undergone horrific experiences—always have, and I suspect always will. I believe that what separates those who fall victim to terror, to abuse, or absentee parenting, must originate from deep within individuals. I can’t explain it, but it always amazes me that as some people succumb to their traumas, others seem to reach in and grab ahold of something that enables them to rise above it. It’s just the way things are, and no amount of bureaucratic intervention is going to make any difference.

    Happy Mothers day everyone ... and Happy Birthday to Debbie.

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    1. A very wise response, Mustang,. You just about took the words out of the tips of my fingers before I could get them down. ;-)

      Yes, I believe that those who persist dwelling on the pain, sorrow, deprivation and possible victimhood in their experience, tend to use it as an excuse all their lives for whatever may be lacking in their behavior, or they may use it as a crutch to lean on for a similar reason.

      Dwelling on negatives courts enervation and despair. Wise parents, teachers, spiritual leaders and those officially in charge would do much more good by taking a CONSTRUCTIVE, HOPEFUL, ENCOURAGING attitude while avoiding the TRAGIC view.

      That, of course is precisely what is so wrong with Marxism and its hideous offshoots. Its born of envy, resentment, constant complaint and the most supercilious kind of self-righteousness.

      I am vey glad this particular young woman was able to overcome the influence of her parents' tragic death, and make a good life for herself. I'm sure she is a wonderful mother.

      Delete
  3. Unfortunately, this is likely how adultery is dealt with locally. This is not unique to this country.

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    1. Beak,
      That could have been the case. I was never specifically informed as to any particulars other than those that K.L. blurted out that day in my classroom -- although there was a hint dropped that mental illness was involved.

      K.L. was taken into the home of relatives on her mother's side.

      Delete
  4. God bless her aunt and uncle for taking in this child and loving her as they did so. Plenty of children end up in some one's home, but many are not truly loved, encouraged and cherished. I'm sure you're right, that Mother's Day holds special meaning for her now.

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    1. Maggie,
      From what I read on K.L.'s Facebook page this morning, she had a wonderful Mother's Day. She expressed on her timeline how blessed she is to be the mother of those three precious children.

      Delete
  5. What a horrible and tragic story. Thank goodness her aunt and uncle took her in and raised her.

    It's wonderful to know she is happy.

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    1. Leticia,
      For a long time, I resisted using Facebook. I finally joined FB because of Decorate A Vet.

      Within a few weeks, several of my former students from long ago found me. Overall, I am pleased to see what these students have done with their lives. Interestingly, many of those about whom I was so worried have turned out just fine. Talk about resilience!

      Of course, my former students are now scattered all over the United States -- and even abroad. For example, one of my former students is now living in Wales, where she is pursuing her master's degree in music. She posts beautiful photos in which I have a keen interest because my mother's ancestors hailed from Wales.

      This fall, one of my former students is coming to this area to visit his parents. We're going to get together.

      I don't know if K.L and I will be getting together soon. She may not visit the D.C. area very often.

      Delete

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