(“Tales from the Classroom” is a feature posted occasionally here at this blog. All tales are true and present matters about which I have personal knowledge. The following tale relates the story of a particularly poignant moment that occurred the Friday before Mother’s Day in 1984 when I was teaching fourth grade. Every year, as Mother’s Day approaches, I remember that day in my classroom. Note: If you must have politics, please scroll down to other posts)
I knew that K.L., a stunningly beautiful Filippina and a slightly-above-average student, had been adopted by her aunt and uncle shortly after both her parents died when she was about three years old. Until that day in 1985, she had never spoken of her mom and dad. “I don’t remember them,” she used to say. Furthermore, she had bonded well with her extended family.
The official story about K.L.’s parents: they had died together in a car accident. Not so.
Some nine years earlier in the Philippines, K.L. had been at home with her mom and dad. For whatever reason, her father shot and killed her mother, then took his own life. This horror — in front of K.L., sitting for several hours in the house where her dead parents lay. K.L. was covered in her parents’ blood when she was found by a neighbor many hours later. She was in shock, of course, and remained mute for several months.
In my classroom during that Mother’s Day art project (a bit of student-written verse and the making of a card in which to insert that poem), K.L. remembered everything she had witnessed and experienced. Between wrenching sobs, wailed: “My father killed my mother, then killed himself!”
I abruptly dismissed the other students to the playground for an unscheduled recess and phoned K.L’s aunt, who first gasped, then confirmed the story. She immediately came to the school so as to take K.L. to see their parish priest for an emergency meeting.
K.L. returned to class on Monday. Neither of us has ever mentioned what happened that Friday before Mother’s Day 1985, but upon her return she gave me a hug and said, “Thank you.”
So, where is K.L. today? Not long ago, I found her via Facebook and friended her. Now a property manager for a real estate company, she is married and has three children: two sons and a daughter; she refers to them as “my little reasons.” I’m certain that Mother’s Day for her now is a day of celebration — as it should be.