She Got the Message

A dreamy visit from a favorite teacher lets a young woman know she is appreciated.

Posted in , Feb 23, 2015

“Who do you want to sign it, Georgie?” one of my friends asked that Friday as we stood in a circle in the schoolyard, holding our little autograph books for our friends and teachers to write in before eighth grade graduation. It was exciting figuring out who to approach next.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” I said, flipping through the pages of my book. “Just so long as I get all my friends and favorite teachers.” The group nodded in agreement, but I wasn’t being totally honest. There was one of those who mattered most: Mrs. Lucky.

She was my teacher in third grade, back when I attended Dante Public School. I’d had a lot of trouble with bullies back then. I was small and delicate, and a group of “popular girls” took every opportunity they could to harass me. They even threatened to beat me up!

But no matter what they said or did to bring me down, Mrs. Lucky could always make me feel better. She was an older woman, short with gray hair and wire-rim glasses, but she was hardly frail like me. She had a reputation for being strict. Nothing got past her.

And she thought I was special. She praised me in class, gave me gold stars, and generally let me know she saw how hard I worked to please her. With Mrs. Lucky on my side, I could face just about anything.

My eighth grade friends passed around our books, scribbling jokes and messages we could laugh over for years to come. I remembered how, back in third grade, older girls used to come into our class at the end of the year to get Mrs. Lucky to sign their autograph books. She always took her time writing out a unique message. “Do not read it until you’ve left the classroom,” she’d say sternly before giving the book back.

Too bad I can’t drop in on her, I thought. After fourth grade my mother transferred me to Guardian Angel Catholic School. Mrs. Lucky was elderly when I left, so surely she’d retired by now. There was no way I could get that special signature I longed for.

My book was over half full by the time I got home. I’d made lots of friends at my new school. In fact, I ended up fitting in perfectly at Guardian Angel, and became more confident and self-assured—more like Mrs. Lucky. Bullies didn’t bother me anymore, and I was excited, not scared, to start high school.

Would Mrs. Lucky be proud of how I’ve grown up? I wondered as I fixed myself an after-school snack. If I could see her again and have her write out a special message for me, I was certain I’d know. Guess I’ll just have to imagine what Mrs. Lucky would have said.

While doing my chores and all through dinner, I thought about Mrs. Lucky. And that night I had a dream. I was walking down the street in a beautiful neighborhood. Trees with full, emerald leaves grew along the sidewalk, stretching their branches to the sky. Splotches of sunlight filtered down through the canopies, making patterns on the pavement at my feet. I felt dazzled by the scenery and walked a long time.

A noise from behind made me stop and turn. A sleek black limousine pulled up to the curb. The door to the backseat opened, and a familiar face looked out at me. Mrs. Lucky!

“Come on then, have a seat,” she said, sliding in to make room and peering sternly at me from behind her wire-rim glasses. I quickly sat down next to her and realized my autograph book had been in my hands the entire time.

Mrs. Lucky took it from me, settled it on her lap, and began to write, choosing every word with care. After a while she shut the book, and handed it back to me. “Do not read it until I’ve gone.”

“Thank you!” I said, getting out of the limousine and clutching the book to my chest. “Goodbye!”

I woke up with a start. Was that really a dream? It had felt so real! I climbed out of bed and opened up my autograph book. No message from Mrs. Lucky, of course. But somehow, it felt like I really did get my chance to see her again.

I even felt like I knew what she’d have written. Maybe not the actual words, but the way they made me feel: proud, loved, special. This was going to be the happiest Saturday of my life!

Walking on air, I got dressed and went out to run some errands for my mother. At the pharmacy, I noticed two teachers from Dante School talking at the counter.

I hadn’t seen them in years, but with the dream still buzzing around in my head, I felt compelled to tell them about it. After all, Mrs. Lucky was as favored by her fellow teachers as she was by me.

They listened carefully as I spoke, never once interrupting and giving me their full attention. When I’d finished they stared at me, eyes wide.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Well, it’s just very strange,” one of them said quietly, “but you see, Mrs. Lucky died last night.”

Perhaps it wasn’t so strange. Not to a child who’d felt such loving encouragement from this angel in her life. Mrs. Lucky was proud of me. She always had been, and my former teacher stopped by on her way to heaven to tell me one more time. That’s pretty special.

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