The photo was taken October 12, 2006.
Miss Chamberlain was my English teacher during my sophomore year in high school. I got a phone call from her last night. She lives in California now in a retirement village. She is blessed in that many of the residents in her complex are bright, well-educated people with whom she finds common ground. Her health is not good, and although she plans to become a centenarian, the trip to that goal is not easy for her. She called because she was "down" and needed someone to cheer her up. I hope I was able to do that.
When I was a lad of fifteen and a self-professed detest-er of school this teacher saw something in me that I did not see in myself, for otherwise she would have given up on me, I'm sure. She was one year only in the school and moved on to other places and endeavors. What I am about to relate I learned after many years had passed. Betty married a fine Christian gentleman. However, he died young and left her with five children to raise. She never remarried, but supported her family on her own. Her endeavors included teaching, and that not entirely in America as she spent considerable time in missions endeavors abroad.
When I was about fifty-five years of age, I discovered that she was living in Northern Indiana and teaching school there. It was not far to her home, so I contacted her and we made a visit there. As you may have noted there was a forty-year gap between this visit and our common experiences in the English classroom. But the thread of friendship had remained unbroken and we picked up, as the saying goes, where we left off. We met I think twice after that visit and the above picture was taken on the most recent face-to-face. But we have had many telephone and email conversations over the years. She moved to California several years ago, and I have remained in Indiana. When Betty calls, BBBH refers to her as my "girlfriend." Well, she certainly is not a girl anymore, if she ever was.
Yesterday she told me that an old gentleman to whom she had become quite close, with whom she had a standing Wednesday evening dinner date, had failed to show last week. It was learned that he had passed away alone in his rooms. I began to see more clearly why she was blue. We had a good chat, and I really think she felt better after we talked.
But, remember youngsters. Going down the hill is harder than the trip up.