Excerpt from the rough draft of my memoir. Please read and drop me a note to let me know what you think. Thanks:
Words matter. Teachers matter. The words that teachers say matter. Her nine words managed to quietly sustain me during the later, darker years after I left the comfort of her third grade classroom.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do,” Mrs. Nancy Bazemore clutched my trembling eight-year old shoulders, leaned down beside me and into my ears she whispered those amazing words. I had told her that I had asthma and my parents had said that I couldn’t run.
My class was playing a game of baseball and it was my turn to bat and I was afraid to run around the field.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Now run!” She had told me.
I can still feel the sticky sting of tears course down my cheeks; I can still feel the exhilaration of running around that ball field in spite of parents’ warnings. I can still see Mrs. Nancy Bazemore, her brown 1960’s era flip curls, her pretty hands shoving me forward. Into that Georgia afternoon, on that playground, I had defied those words of caution that had debilitated me.
I am sure my parents only had my best interest in mind, but the truth was that it was my sister who had had the asthma and I was therefore assumed to have it, too.
That day, I somehow managed to survive my run around the bases. I didn’t die of an asthma attack as I had feared. In fact, all through my childhood I had been warned by my parents that I couldn’t participate in physical education class because I might have an asthma attack.
Well, Mrs. Nancy Bazemore took a chance and I did, too.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.” She spoke those few words, seemingly insignificant to her probably, but to a little eight year old girl for whom encouragement was something rarely received, her words made an enormous impact.
Decades later, my heart remembers.
Thank you, Mrs. Bazemore. I am eternally grateful.
Copyright 2020, Jenny W. Andrews