Hey there reader! My mom, Maureen, knew at twelve years old what she wanted to do, and she was able to live her dream. She could think of no better accomplishment than teaching a child to read or helping them see themselves as inventors and thinkers of big ideas. The deeper she got into her long flowing career, the more it reinforced the idea she was where she supposed to be. The rewards she found in teaching the handicapped and disenfranchised were small moments loaded with power and inspiration. For thirty-five years, the students held the most important role in strengthening her skills as a lifelong learner. Witnessing how they and their families made difficult decisions through hardships and limitations, challenges and setbacks, reinforced her desire to push on, empathetic and tough.
Diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer five months after her husband, and my father, Buddy, was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia, Mom’s world turned to chaos. She got more and more sick at a time when she was forced to take on new roles. But, she remembered the faces of the children. By doing so, she continued to find hope in all of the moments along the way, and actively participated in life. Room For Grace is a memoir of a teacher, a wife and a mother inspired by the lessons she learned from her students. Emulating the strength of her true competitors, warriors and winners, Mom got through sixty-three chemotherapy treatments.
Mom was always confident her students knew they could count on her to do her very best; just as she counted on them to help make the world a little bit brighter each day. My mom was the teacher who encouraged her students to expect a lot from themselves. In her classroom they were allowed to dream, no future too far off. They were taught to choose hope and to accept help from others. There were values, she urged, they must remember to help them continue to grow. The first was perseverance. Mom was positive that from their time at school, they learned how to spell it, but more importantly, they learned what it looked like. It was up to them to be eternal optimists and cheerleaders for their friends. But mostly, Mom focused on compassion and tolerance. “Be respectful of individual differences and remain curious about the unique personalities of all your peers,” she’d say. “Don’t be fearful to interact and work with people who look different and who act differently than you.” Often, while on the sidelines, Mom stood proudly, watching with delight acts of compassion and friendship her students displayed toward each other and toward members of their community. It was from her student’s purest of actions that Mom internalized these lessons and carried them with her into chemotherapy, time and time again. Because of them, Mom remained optimistic about the future.
I’m so proud to share Room For Grace and my parents with you.