Blast from the Past

When we were in Gulfport, Mama gave me a stack of memorabilia including photos, notes, etc.

Not that she’s parceling out her things in preparation of “the Great Beyond.”

No, these are my things. Things she was tired of saving for her nomadic daughter.

Looking through the pages of history, I was stunned to find a letter from when I was fifteen.

“Your daughter Debbie has done outstanding work in my Geometry class in high school,” the letter began, and it was signed by my teacher and the principal.

Me? Outstanding work? In Geometry?

If the letter hadn’t had my name on it and hadn’t been in Mom’s possession, I’d have thought it was a note meant for somebody else’s parents about some other student.

But there it was.

“This record is a tribute to both student and parents, and represents a high performance level in academic work and in school citizenship.”

If I ever saw that letter, I surely don’t remember it.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked Geometry. I just didn’t understand it.

Not that I didn’t try.

And my teacher was fabulous — a tiny gnome of a man who drew spirit cartoons in colored chalk on the board every football Friday, who tried his level best to make the subject interesting.

Math should have been right up my alley. It was all black and white, right or wrong, with no grey areas. And unlike English class, you couldn’t talk or write your way out of knowing the answers!

When Domer was in high school, he got gazillions of this kind of letter — in every subject. I’ve saved ALL of them, so he won’t have any reason — ever — to doubt his abilities then or capabilities now.

Maybe if I’d known of my letter, I might have had the confidence to pursue a different career path. Maybe I’d have been an accountant. Or a stockbroker or an architect.

Who am I kidding?

I’m a writer, for Pete’s sake, and one complimentary letter about my mathematical abilities can’t change that fact!

22 thoughts on “Blast from the Past

  1. It’s funny seeing things from way back when that we don’t remember! And then there are those things that stay with us forever, you know the things no one else remembers! And yes, you are a writer…who says you can’t be a mathematician as well?

    • Well, I guess so. I think we’re all born with a lot of different talents and abilities, but over time, we gravitate to some and abandon others. Obviously, the ones we don’t use, we lose. It’s funny, though. I never thought Geometry was one of my better subjects!

  2. “I’m a writer, for Pete’s sake, and one complimentary letter about my mathematical abilities can’t change that fact!”

    HA! LOVED that finish, Debbie!

    And I APPLAUD you because I was horrendous in math. And science. And History. And everything else. I honestly don’t know how I ever got out of school because back then I was strictly a creative person (right brain), and in Catholic school there wasn’t much offered in the way of creativity, therefore, everything bored me. And it wasn’t until I got older and online, and began teaching myself more ‘technical’ things, did I realize I had a LEFT BRAIN too – HA!

    I think it’s awesome that your Mama sent you that letter!

    You GO, girl!


    • “In Catholic school there wasn’t much offered in the way of creativity.” Oh, Ron, you too, huh?? About the only creative thing we did involved coloring (within the lines!).

      It’s so hard for creative people to endure the regimentation of school. We have a need to be FREE, to let our spirits SOAR. And sadly, too much creativity is drained right out of us and we’re forced to fit in, sit still, behave!

      It’s a wonder any of us survive it — and an even bigger wonder that some thrive in spite of it. Glad you’re one of the “thrivers”!!

      Happy Monday, my friend!

  3. Well obviously you are also a closet Geometry whiz! That was just outed. Congratulations on your new found talent! Of-course you are a writer you’ve just added to your treasure chest of talents. How wonderful.

    • Thanks, Katybeth. I’m not sure it’s a new found talent, as much as a mind-boggling discovery, ha! Letters like this were more common in my son’s era, it seems. Teachers probably wanted to make sure everything felt “warm and fuzzy” for our kids, compared to “way back when” when they felt you truly had to *earn* commendation. Regardless, my eyes still glaze over when I think about all those theorems!

  4. You could boil my whole school career down to “Words, good. Numbers, bad.” Clearly, you were more multi-talented than I was! But from what I know of your work, I suspect you’re doing more geometry than you realize – even if you don’t recognize it as such. One of the things I’m finally learning is that either/or doesn’t apply here, either. We can do numbers and words!

    The “stuff” that gets kept and carted around really is amazing. What really amused me about your post is that I have a couple of friends who are trying everything possible to get their kids to finally drag off all the stuff they’ve been keeping for them. One recently laid down the law about the china, crystal and such. She told the kids, “If you want it, you have to get it now, because otherwise it’s going to Goodwill.”
    And she just might do it.

    • My ex-husband’s mom and dad did the exact same thing — called all the “kids” and told them to come fetch their stuff before it got donated. And yes, it worked! Bonus — they got a family reunion, to boot!

      I’ve always gravitated to words, colors, music, etc., but somehow, I managed to do fairly decently in math as well. Once I “got” Algebra, I loved it; “story problems,” not so much. Poor Domer had to learn those on his own, for all I had to hear was, “A train starts out from Point A going X mph. . .” and I fear my eyes would glaze over!

    • You know, I never thought of myself as a math whiz, Monica. I managed to snag okay grades, but math was something to be endured — not like English, which I naturally gravitated to. My parents, too, must have been doubtful over this letter, or I’m sure they’d have tried to convince me a math field would be a better-paying proposition than anything having to do with words, ha!

  5. My mom only kept my bad letters. After she passed in 2010 I found more of them. I never did anything good so I guess that’s all she had.

    Your blog today made me look back and realize I didn’t do anything good to get a certificate….but I have 6 birth certificates and that is my best accomplishments….raising my 6 kids. I am happy about my life because the negative things in my life has made me a much stronger woman.
    Also my Father in heaven said He will reward me so….I’m good.
    I’m so glad your mom saved your good memorabilia. I can tell you’re smart Deb by the things you write, your photography and just talking to you through your blog. So you’re good in math? To me you’re a genius then…LOL! I bet you do your own taxes!

    • Oh, Tanya, I wouldn’t even *think* of doing my own taxes — I just know I’d end up in jail, ha!
      Six birth certificates is a wonderful accomplishment, my friend. So many people can’t have children at all and would give anything they own to have just one. I know, because I nearly was one of them.
      I’m sorry you had it so hard when you were a child. Just know that God didn’t abandon His daughter and has blessed you now with untold riches!

  6. That was nice that she saved it and you got affirmation of your abilities (better late than never, eh?) I’m fairly certain I never received any such letter for my mathematical skills. If anything, my high school physics teacher sent home a letter begging my parents to keep me from pursuing anything in the field of science! (I wasn’t very good at math, but physics showed me a whole new level of failure.)

    • I refused to even try physics, Janna! Chemistry was way more challenging than I wanted at that time of life.
      Isn’t it funny how some of us lean to the creative end of things, while others are more adept at math and science? Sure, we can be taught and I imagine we can succeed, but usually, the interest just isn’t there so we don’t apply ourselves.
      But it’s nice to think I might have more abilities in the math realm than I see, ha!

  7. Oh my goodness, Debbie. These “stacks of memorabilia” that our parents send us after decades… so hard to known what to do with all that stuff!!! I’ve got drawers full. But what’s sweet is that our parents thought it all worth saving.

    • I come from a LONG line of pack rats, Jann, and sadly, I’ve picked up their ways. I’ve saved more stuff for my son than I’m sure he’d ever want — at least, it’s cataloged and organized,, ha! But yes, it’s comforting to realize that we were cherished enough for somebody to want to remember our younger years!

  8. I felt the same way about math. My grades were respectable, but I always felt like I was fighting a battle trying to stay on top of things.

    I think it’s funny that you received such a complimentary letter about your accomplishments in geometry and don’t remember it at all! Sounds like something I might do!

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one, Terri! I really don’t remember getting the letter — probably it went to my folks, who “neglected” to tell me about it (gotta keep the kids in the dark so they’ll keep trying, rather than resting on their laurels, ha!)

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