Dear Mr Reichert by KD Sullivan
I don’t exactly know through whom or when I met KD Sullivan, but I know I liked her right away. Her blog, Journey to Epiphany is filled with beautiful posts that have inspired me. KD has been a number one supporter to me from the moment I asked for help with this project. She has been waiting a long time for this post to go live.
But KD is nothing if not patient. She is a gentle, true spirit. And I urge you to check out what she has done at her place. One of my most favorite posts is called “Painting Grace Graffiti or How I Almost Quit Blogging.”
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Dear Mr. Reichert
At the time, Mr. Reichart was under-appreciated. We thought he was just plain weird. He had the worst comb-over I’d ever seen: badly dyed, jet-black hair started two fingers above the top of his ear and swept over his otherwise void-of-hair head. With bulbous eyes, slightly yellowed skin and a thin frame, he looked like a character in an old Peter Lorrey film. He always wore a short-sleeved dress shirt. But the most interesting thing about Mr. Reichart’s appearance was the wad of spittle that moved from his top lip to his bottom lip. I used to take guesses as to which lip the spittle would settle at the end of class.
Despite his geeky appearance, Mr. Reichart was the best English Literature teacher. Ever. I remember very little about high school, and even less about actual class time in high school, but I have three very vivid memories of this wonderful teacher’s class.
The first was when he taught a unit on English poets. He asked a question that I’ve never forgotten. He asked:
“Would you rather have some one tell you that they love you despite your faults, or someone who pretends to be blind to them?”
At the time I thought I’d rather have someone be blind to them, but as wisdom and maturity have taken their toll on a horribly flawed me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather the first.
Mr. Reichart made us memorize the Prologue to Canterbury Tales by Chaucer in old English! He told us that some day, we would see each other in a bar and repeat it…and if my memory was good enough to recognize or even remember any of the students in his class, I would still be able to quote it. Verbatim. And because I home-schooled my children, I made them memorize it as well.
My last memory of this eccentric man was that he created a holiday. He called it Lacey Day. It doesn’t happen on the same day every year, and in the Chicago area usually comes in early May. It occurs the first day the tree leaves are barely unfolding; when you look toward the sky you will find a tapestry of green lace.
I don’t know if Mr. Reichart is still alive, but I have much to thank him for. He sparked a love in me for English literature. He treated me — and all of his students — as though we were already adults with his talk of love and meeting in bars. He believed we could do hard things. But most importantly, he taught me how to make a holiday out of the common, and find beauty in the every day. So for a couple of days each spring, I look up to the tops of the trees and remember dear Mr. Reichert.
What literature did you have to memorize in school? Can you still do it? Which former teacher of yours would you like to meet in a bar? What drink would you order him or her? What would you have?