Nate and Old Don

September 22, 2004 at 9:25 am (Uncategorized)


Had the first PTO meeting last night and open house to meet Nate’s teacher. No, she’s not Old Don. Her name is Valerie. Its the first teacher at that school to actually act enthusiastic about her job. She was also the first one to tell me how much she enjoyed Nate, how smart he was and how much she could tell he wanted to do things and to please her. Unfortunately, he has a hard time with that. She readily accepted my suggestions, the same ones I made last year to his other teacher, to improve his focus etc. I will be giving him a topic every morning to write about in journal. She’ll be using a blank piece of paper to cover up the page so he’s not lamblasted by having all that space or X number of problems to stare at. Reminders everyday and a list that will be taped on his desk to help him out.

I also point blank told him how I could tell he had improved with certain things and how much better he was doing. But, we still needed to work on it. His biggest problem is writing. He has trouble getting the thoughts in his head through his hand. Also, he can’t slow his mind to light on one thing to write about so he wastes time trying to figure it all out. Then he falls behind, then he’s pressed for time which makes him anxious and nothing gets done. Its a hell of a life for a kid. But, the things that we are putting into place will hopefully help with that. Not to mention, Mom said if he doesn’t put forth a little more effort, NO PS2.

I understand why he’s the way he is. Duh, I know where he got it from. But, I will not tolerate not even putting the date on the fucking paper. THAT PISSED ME OFF!!! And he knew it too. I said, “that shows you’re not even trying, that you’ve given up.” He got that severely guilty look on his face. Yep. Mom says, “That will not be tolerated son. We don’t give up.” He’s been caught. Ha! So… we’ll see how this works out. Its just a shame that a kid in the 3rd grade who reads on a 6th grade level can’t put the date on a piece of paper. Yes, that was a shameless brag on my child. Deal with it.

Old Don

This morning on the way in to work, I saw Old Don. Old Don used to ease a big yellow school bus up to the road in front of my house and take me to kindergarten. Over the years he took me to school rain, snow, sleet and shine. Yet, over the years, his nerves got the best of him and he was no longer able to deal with a busload of smart-mouthed teenagers and retired on disability. For numerous years I didn’t see him or hear of him until one day, while out for lunch in the downtown, I saw a man shuffling along. He appeared to be homeless, grizzled white facial hair, a jacket in the heat of the day, a cane to help him walk.

It was Don. He saw me too and a huge smile spread across his face. I went up to him and into his open arms and I was a little girl again. He laughed and pushed me away from him. “My goodness,” he said, “what happened to that little girl I used to take to kindergarten?” So, we talked about where life had taken us. I told him about my son and he told me about his grandchildren. He had suffered a minor stroke, hence the shakiness of his hands and the cane. He lived in the big city now, probably at one of the local assisted living facilities.

My, my he had certainly gone down hill from the last time I saw him. He also suffers from arthritis in one of his hips and he tries to walk as much as possible to keep things running smoother. He is a man with many physical problems and I know, disappointments in his life. But the light of God shines in his eyes. He’s always smiling and happy to see me.

For a long while I didn’t see him at all and I was concerned. Found out later he had a serious bout with pneumonia and was laid up for quite a while. Just the other day, I saw him on the street again, smiling and bragging about the birth of his new grandson, asking about my folks and my brother. He tells me to let them know he asked after them and that he prays for them. Being around Don is like walking into a ray of sunshine even on the darkest days. He reminds me how much I have to be thankful for and how even through adversity, the spirit can triumph.

I saw Don this morning, sitting on a bench close to my office. He raised his hand and waved and I waved and yelled, “Good morning!” It was indeed a good morning because I was touched by his sunshine.


  1. Cootera said,

    Great post, Inanna. We all have an ‘Old Don’ in our lives and it makes me all teary thinking about them. I don’t know why… it’s that overwhelming tenderness I guess one feels. And, just so you know, I have no doubt that you are a ray of sunshine to him as well.

  2. Katrina said,

    You made me want to call my grandpa.

    Thanks…he probably needs more of that.

  3. Michael said,

    Hi Inanna, nice post — the young and the old and everything in between…

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