Monday, January 26, 2015
Midge, as her friends called her, but not me, a lowly student, manned the bookstore in my high-school. Need a pencil, notebook, science book or tickets for the latest event? She was the person to see, only, not many people seemed to see her, or me, which is why, one day in the still hallway that faced the courtyard and the snow falling, we had a conversation.
My classmates often complained about how long it took her get the items they had forgotten and needed now. She either did not hear their remarks said under the breath or choose to ignore them. I marveled at her unflappability, which I had not yet mastered, but sorely needed to, if I was to survive.
So, when I did need an item from the bookstore, I would only approach her window when I first arrived at school, 7 :10 am, as I lived far away so had to come earlier then most, or at the end of the day, after the crowd had cleared out, to the various activities I did not participate in, but before the bus would cart me back home
One day, as I waited for her to retrieve the Spanish workbook for me, I saw falling out the window the first snowflakes of the year. I said to myself, more then to Mrs. Slattery, "Oh look, the first snow".
" I love the first snow" she responded with a smile as she placed the workbook on the counter.
"I do too", I replied, returning her smile.
From that time forward, I would always make sure I stopped by the bookstore on the first snow, to say hello. We would exchange knowing smiles, and look out into the courtyard and exchange the various reasons we enjoyed winter.
After I graduated from high school, Mrs. Slattery sent me in the mail a graduation card with twenty dollars in it, and a handwritten note:
I have enjoyed your company these four years. You never knew how much your visits to me meant.
My husband and I had been in a terrible accident, which he did not survive, and I was sentenced to these canes. He and I loved the first snow falls together, when you said to me you love the first snow, it was the anniversary of our marriage, and I was missing him terribly. I felt you had been sent to help me through.
Good luck and thank you,
Every year, for many years, Mrs. Slattery sent me a card on the day of the first snowfall, to say hello and see how I was getting on. One winter, no card arrived or any there after.
I've always hoped it meant she was with her husband once again, and they were admiring the first snowfalls together.