She loves me not…
I’ve shared this story before on another website, but I’ve tweaked it a bit because it is a tale worth sharing again. I’m not writing this to complain or get pity, but let young people (and heck even old people) struggling today know that they’re not alone. I’m also making this my first posthumous GratiTuesday post.
I think most of us will agree the middle school years are probably the toughest growing up. Our bodies are going through changes and our hormones are up and down like a rollercoaster. Some adapt to these changes better than others. I did not. I was an ugly duckling through those years as exhibited by my eighth-grade photo. But it wasn’t just my looks that left me standing with my back against the wall at most junior high dances. According to one girl, “your looks are your parents’ fault, your personality is your fault.”
Ouch indeed. But as the years at North Jefferson Middle School went by I looked forward to being an eighth grader. I was on the school newspaper, under the guidance of Mrs. Debbie Weissflug. It was all part of a class called Creative Writing. I had a passion for writing even back then, and Mrs. Weissflug helped bring that passion out and share it with others.
In February of that year (1987) we did a fundraiser called Heart Grams. It was a handwritten note and a Blow Pop. We sold these ‘grams’ during lunch periods and then delivered the messages during the seventh hour the week of Valentine’s Day.
Each day I waited patiently to see if I’d be getting a message. But as you can imagine I went home empty-handed every time despite sending a ‘gram’ of my own to my crush. On that Friday afternoon though, I was surprised when the delivery came to me. Written in red ink was a simple message of appreciation signed ‘Mrs. W’ with a smiley face.
I went home that day from school and cried my eyes out. Looking back I don’t remember if it’s because none of my peers sent a message or if it was the kindness one teacher showed that made a difference. Now 31 years later that story still sticks with me like it happened yesterday.
Mrs. Weissflug died years ago and I never had a chance to thank her for that act of kindness. I’m sure she had written that message to each of her Creative Writing students, but looking back it meant the world to this lonesome loser.
There have been many teachers in my life that made an impact. But the lasting impression Mrs. W left on me restored my faith in Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to believe that just five years after this incident I would meet my wife in college and never be alone on Valentine’s Day again. Based on my experience back then, I would encourage you to think of others, not just your spouse or significant other this Valentine’s Day. One random act of kindness can go a long way this year.
I'm a former TV news guy turned marketing manager. I like to blog, podcast and watch pro wrestling.