I was an English teacher in the late seventies, back before it was called Language Arts. I had eighth grade students, and for the most part I loved what I did.
One of my students was a genuinely sweet boy. He was smart but not a smarty, and his work was thoughtful and original. One day he walked up to me at my desk with a smile on his face.
“I understand that Nan is your mother,” he said.
“Nan. Isn’t your mother’s name Nan?”
What’s going on? “Yes...”
Big grin. “She’s my partner in Hustle lessons.”
It seems he was the tallest boy in the dance class, which consisted entirely of young teens and my mother, in her late 50s. So he got to be her partner. He stood there grinning.
I rolled my eyes. “Go sit down.”
He gleefully took his seat.
My mom is something else. Always has been. When I was in high school, she bought a guitar because she wanted to sound like Eric Clapton. I was mortified. When she was 65, she signed up for skiing lessons at Jackson Hole. (God intervened with a severe cold and she spent the weekend in front of the fire in the lodge. Thank heaven.) At 87, she has finally slowed down a little, and her short term memory is failing. But she pumps iron and rides the stationary bike three times a week. She travels the world every year, dragging my willing but sedentary stepfather along. She finally quit working as a travel agent about a year ago.
A former model, Mom still has the carriage of Princess Grace. She plays poker with “the girls” every week and is a former state champion in bridge. She is always open to new experiences and opens her house to anyone. No stranger to tragedy—she lost her first husband and first three children—she still loves to laugh, and it’s infectious. My friends who have met her all use exactly the same word to describe her: “amazing.” She really is. I can only hope it’s hereditary.