“Grateful eyes look at each thing as if they had never seen it before and caress it as if they would never see it again.” ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast
There are so many people that come in and out of our lives that it is hard to keep up with them. Our busy daily rounds keep us hopping between work, family, friends, duties and other responsibilities. It is important to set aside a little time to say a heartfelt thank you to the ones who have had an impact on the way that we live, think and believe. Time can rob us of the opportunity if we are not careful and thoughtful about this effort.
Among the people who shaped me was an English teacher in my junior year of high school. He was delightful. Somehow, Errett Worcester Green was able to make it fun to memorize verse. Perhaps it was his hilarious presentations of the material, his love of the language, dedication to teenagers or some special magic that he brought to us every day. Whatever it was, I learned to love poetry, Dickens, Shakespeare and school.
Mr. Green, a native of Illinois, was already 65 when I was his student, but age didn’t create a generation gap between us. One of the most popular teachers at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, “Pop” Green drew otherwise sophisticated 17 year old juniors to him like a Pied Piper.
We watched as he performed scenes in Hamlet, using different voices for each character. Many of us actually fell out of our chairs when he sang ‘Froggy Went A-Courtin’ while acting out the parts of Froggy, Miss Mousey and Uncle Rat. I discovered for the first time that learning could be exciting. As I have grown older, his lessons continue to enhance my ability to remember meaningful lines and share them with clients. My counseling sessions all have a little sparkle of Mr. Green in them as I find new ways to connect and relate.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~ John F Kennedy
My family has heard me tell stories about E. W. Green over and over. We were in South Florida visiting my mother in 1978. I had just proudly competed a recitation of the introduction to Beowolf in Middle English which Pop had us memorize, when my wife urged me to make an effort to tell Mr. Green how much he had meant to me.
So, I picked up the phone with the intention of doing just that.
His wife answered the phone. Helen W. Green taught my senior English class. Having her as an instructor was almost as wonderful as having Pop. She completed the love-of-English lessons he started by infusing even more joy but with a bit less hilarity. It was so good to hear her voice. Mrs. Green remembered me after almost ten years and proved it by asking some personal questions and reminiscing about ‘her children’ at Pine Crest. I told her that I wanted to talk to Mr. Green and let him know how much he meant to me. She was gracious and kind as usual but gently informed me that “Pop” had died the day before. I was devastated.
The final lesson that Mr. and Mrs. Green gave to me was an invaluable one. Never put off expressing your appreciation and love for those teachers, mentors, family members or friends who have provided important guidance for our journey. I made one of those connections today when I called Mr. and Mrs. Green’s 85 year old son to let him know how his parents had influenced my life. He was so happy to hear my story. The pleasure was all mine. Thanks again Pop and Helen!
Banner image: Errett W. Green and Helen W. Green
Robert Kenneth Jones
Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.
In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.
His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.
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