Thursday, July 13, 2006

To Mrs. Bevington

I was staying at a friend's house last night, and pulled Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine from the shelf. Memories of my Grade Six teacher, Mrs. Bevington, came flooding back to me. I remember her talking about the book to my class. Years later, when I won a writing award, and part of the prize was a gift certificate from a local bookstore, I immediately knew which book I wanted once I laid eyes on Sabine's Notebook. I'm writing a letter to Mrs. Bevington. I wish I had thanked her in person when I had the chance. Perhaps she's watching over me now; perhaps her spirit lives in me, in all the people she had touched in her lifetime.

Dear Mrs. Bevington,

I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Actually, you are someone who keeps resurfacing from the recesses of my mind through the years.

I want to tell you that I love you. I remember you reading to us in that gentle, steady voice. I was at the edge of my seat as you progressed through Don't Hurt Laurie. I believed in my abilities when you allowed and encouraged Albert and me to forge on ahead in math. You showed me that I had a voice. You were the first fan of my writing, and also my first critic.

I look back at the skills you fostered in us, and I'm truly grateful. Although I couldn't see any merit in extensive research, outlining, and editing, and thought the entire process was a royal drag, I trace my curiosity to inquire and my desire to express myself clearly to that first step you pushed us to take. I don't think that there's another teacher who would have thought to teach a bunch of eleven-year-olds how to create a detailed outline for a research paper.

Most of the things that I remember about you are small and seemingly trivial, but to me, they are what makes my picture of you complete. I remember how you had instructed the class on the first day of school to use our “thirty-centimetre voices,” using a ruler as a prop. I remember when you brought in those green folders and put them on that table by the window, introducing us to the idea of portfolios: You were way ahead of the times in educational theory.

Laura and I had tried to visit you a couple of times after we graduated. We felt so out of place – when we walked into that brand new hallway, the school no longer felt like it was ours. Although everything on the outside looked the same, the interior was oh-so-different. Perhaps the bigger change was within ourselves. We had heard that you were unwell, but my sense of loss was not fully felt until years later, when I happened to stumble upon mention of the “Gudrun Bevington Memorial Scholarship” on the school website.

It's been fourteen years since you were my teacher, but I miss you now, in the present, more than ever. I was aching with a heaviness when I pulled Griffin and Sabine from my friend's bookshelf last night. You were the one who started me on this lifelong quest of discovering all genres of reading material and devouring them. You made me a questioner and a discusser. You taught us to be meta-cognitive thinkers, to think about how we learned, how we read. For the first time, it seemed as though our opinions mattered.

One vivid memory I have is of our class's buddy-reading program with the kindergarten class. On one occasion, I was paired up with Beatrice, and while all the other buddy-pairs were reading quietly, she burst out singing the rainbow song. I was so embarrassed, but when I looked at you, your expression told me that it was a moment to be cherished. To this day, I have Beatrice's version of the song in my head. I don't know the “real” tune of the song, nor do I want to. Beatrice's innocence and spontaneity made her version the “authentic” one to me.

Here's a confession: I was one half of the duo that played that April Fool's prank. I had thought that you would have been utterly shocked had you known that it was me; however, I now think that you had probably guessed. You saw all of us as humans first of all, with our issues and foibles. For that, instead of thanking you, I forgive myself my flaws, because no amount of gratitude is infinite enough.

I began writing in the hopes of reaching you somehow. I now know that to write for me, to reach myself, would have been enough for you. And so, I end this by sending my love out to the world, and including myself in this one gigantic, boundless psychic embrace.

With much love,

Me

1 comment:

  1. Katherine Bevington (Lonneberg)4:55 PM, July 06, 2012

    Dear Blogger,

    I stumbled across your blog post the other day when I ran a google search on my mom, Gudrun. I noticed that you have stopped posting on your blog, but I hope that this still finds you.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words about my mom. Although you may not have been able to reach her directly, you have certainly touched every member of our family.

    As of this June, it has been thirteen years since my mom's passing. She is close in our hearts every day.

    We now have a new member in our family. My daughter not only carries on my mom's name, but also much of her spirit as well. She has the same love of life and mischievous grin that her Grandma Gudrun had.

    Again, thank you for your lovely tribute,
    Katherine

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