"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Tuesdays, Twice a Month

“I don’t like eating,” he often said. "I only eat because I have to."

I ordered quesadillas. He ordered a tuna salad sandwich that came with a dish of fruit and a big bowl of chicken soup. He always ended up packing half of his meal in a take-home box because it was too much. He didn't like eating.

When the food came he would pull out his syringe and give himself a shot of insulin. He was proud of how well he did in managing his medication. The need for insulin had come later in his life, but he studied, learned how to take care of himself, and felt confident that he knew what he was doing.

We changed restaurants every now and then. The last change was because he had moved and the previous places we had gone to were too far away from his new home. We also switched from breakfast twice a month to lunch twice a month. He did “stuff” in the morning.

We talked while we ate...often about how the technology that we had understood so well in the mid-80s had passed us by. He’d pull out an index card with questions on it. “How do I fix this?” “Why isn’t that working the way it’s supposed to work?” More often than not I’d have to Google the answer, and I always reminded him that he could do the same and figure it out that way. Still, I’d get the answer on my phone and he’d write it down on his index card to take home. The next day he’d email or text me with another question...or tell me how my idea worked...or didn’t work. Sometimes we'd talk on the phone. Now and then a problem would come up that needed immediate attention and I would help him over the phone. Every couple of months I’d go to his house after lunch and we’d work together on his latest tech problem. Other times he'd tell me that he figured out what was wrong and we'd just sit and browse the net together.

We’d also talk about religion, economics, politics, world peace, or personal issues. We both agreed that the world would be a much better place if we made him our benevolent dictator. He promised to make health care available for everyone. That got my vote.

Our politics and philosophies of life were similar. His quirky sense of humor would be the catalyst for jokes about certain public figures. We laughed so we wouldn’t cry.

We were friends for a long time before we adopted the routine of eating together twice a month which only began after I retired. Before that, while we were both still teaching, we talked less often... usually through email.

We'd meet each other at the full system staff gathering at the beginning of each school year and find a place to sit together...now and then we’d spend the time backstage watching the speakers from there. We traveled to the state teachers union Representative Assembly together. The ride to Indy was like the lunches we were to have years later...uninterrupted time to share. During the Assembly, we'd comment about the speakers, have lunch, and enjoy the ride home.

We discussed our students and shared what we did in our two, very different classrooms. If something entertaining happened in his classroom I'd read about it in an email the next day. If I needed help of one kind or another I would email him. There was a period of time in the early 2000s when I needed help fairly often. I could always count on receiving his insights and suggestions.

In later years he would frequently remark on how much he liked working with his students. We both liked being able to help kids “become human.”

When he retired I remember thinking how amazing it was that he had taught as many years as he had. And I noticed how the teachers union Representative Assemblies weren’t as much fun after that.

When I retired we started our twice-monthly meals -- the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

We sometimes missed our meal together. I spent some time in the hospital during the last few years, (though I could always count on his visit)...one or the other of us went on a trip...there were doctor appointments and the like. But most of the time I'd email or text him on Monday and say, "Lunch tomorrow?" He would invariably reply, "Can't wait. Lots to share."

Now that he’s gone, the first and third Tuesdays of each month aren’t going to be as much fun anymore.

"Kindness is the foundation for peace and happiness."


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