Other than the initial meeting, there was one other particularly special moment during our reunion. Shortly after we sat down, Mr. Walters cocked his head to the right. The effect on me was electric. I had completely forgotten about that distinctive mannerism of his—a sign that let us know that he was fully “locked in” on us. Once he did it, the previous half-century separating past from present instantly evaporated, as if those years had never happened. What remained was a blissful, abiding sense of timelessness, a glimpse of eternity in which we would always be friends. It’s amazing how the personal connection between teacher and pupil (now friend and exemplar) was completely re-established by one small movement.
I spent two memorable hours with my old teacher. What a joy to learn about his life, from his childhood as the youngest of 14 kids to his quiet, book-filled retirement. Every minute was precious and memorable. For me, it was Christmas a few days early. I wish that every one of you could have an experience comparable to this. Maybe you can. If it isn’t too late—if your favorite and/or influential teacher is still in this world—I encourage you to try to track him or her down. It means a lot to teachers to be remembered by their pupils, and from the pupil’s point of view, it can be joyfully rewarding to express appreciation for one whose work has benefited or blessed you.
Hats off to all of you dedicated, talented teachers out there. Your impact has been greater than you realize. Thank you for your work in one of the noblest of professions. You are appreciated!