Today is the 100th day of school. It is like the ultimate destination on the pilgrimage of first grade. (Well, except for the last day of school...) Each morning we add another day to our 100 chart. We analyze numbers and make strategies: can we count by 1, 2,5 and/or 10 to get to today's number? Is it odd or even? If it is even, what is one half of the number? Can we count by 3 to the number? (The trick is to add the digits of the number: if that total is divisible by 3, the entire number is divisible by 3 also.) I could go on and on with the amazing things we do with the numbers on the march toward 100, but I'll stop there. Because I'm not in school today. On the 100th day. It is a little like missing Christmas in my world.
My uncle died and the funeral is this morning. Oh, the family tales I could spin about his life. He married my great aunt in the 30s, smack dab in the middle of the Depression. Her father had immigrated from Sweden, and she grew up in a tight-knit Swedish community. It was in a rural area that is now the Austin airport. She moved into town to work at the School for the Deaf, and met her future husband. She was older by several years (a fact I did not learn until her death a few years ago.) He worked for the state, and over the years rose up the ranks to the top of his department. I never realized just how high his rank was until I met someone who worked for the same state agency. I mentioned my uncle's name and was met by stunned silence. Apparently, Uncle Bob was untold levels above this individual, and well-known through out the agency. One of the greatest things he did for me was to secure jobs for me in a state agency during my summer breaks from college. Those positions paid my tuition and living expenses, and allowed me to graduate with the teaching degree that has filled my life with so much meaning and happiness.
There are so many twists and turns in family histories. When my aunt died a few years ago, he married the woman who had been her at-home nurse. She was much younger, but obviously loved him. Shortly after their marriage, he began having a series of strokes, and eventually bone cancer. She has given him wonderful care throughout their few years of marriage, and we are very thankful for her. His only daughter, my cousin, is in end stage ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and will not be able to attend the funeral, but her son is driving in.
And there you go. Everyone has their "stuff". Not happy about that fact, but it helps makes me feel more normal to know I'm not the only one struggling through a difficult patch in life.
Including the substitute who is now in charge of my 19 students all hyped-up for the hundredth day. (And did I mention it has rained all week and there has been no recess?) I expect my day will be much quieter than hers will be.
Dear First Grade: See you on Day 101, ready to hear about all your amazing adventures today. Be nice to the sub and there may be some extra recess in it for you. If it's not still raining for the 1,000th day in a row.