Thank you, Mrs. Franklin.

by teresalaynebennett

photo of corner of Chester Castle

Chester Castle, a bit after that Roman lot

Ah, Mrs. Franklin. If you could’ve seen me today, you would’ve been proud. Fifty years ago in a stuffy Indiana classroom, you were doing your dead level best to stuff our heads full of Latin and a bit of Roman culture, as well. And you succeeded – at least with me. (I can’t speak for the rest of the dunderheads in that classroom.)

Today, my husband and I toured Chester – that most Roman of English cities – which has capitalized capitally on its Roman heritage. Every place we chose to visit regaled us with either video documentaries or information boards about the Roman soldiers, ampitheatre, coinage, amphora, jewelry, wax tablets, oil lamps. All those objects of daily life whose Latin names you taught us and all those details of Roman life “on the frontier” that you made seem so real were real today.

And as I heard and read it all, Mrs. Franklin, you were right there with me. No wondering what it was all about for me. No siree. No unfamiliar terms or puzzlements. Much of the information you poured into my head was still there. Much of what I read and heard was just a review of Latin I and Latin II.

So now, children,
where do you think I’m heading with this?

That’s right: it’s pay-attention time again. When anyone who knows gobs and gobs more than you do about a subject – oh, say a teacher, perhaps – tries to pass along that information, listen up. You never know when that information just might come in rather handy. It might take 50 years – or you might need it tomorrow.

Culture is a marvelous thing – passed on from one generation to the next. Millions and millions of times, this is done daily all over the world – and it makes us all richer. No. Wait. That isn’t quite true. It makes only the ones who are paying attention richer.

But this blog post isn’t
only about paying attention
to knowledge.
It’s bigger than that –
way bigger.

Mrs. Franklin taught Latin and English. She was the woman who firmly fixed in me a love of words and writing. All those times I traveled 1100 miles to visit family in my hometown, I never paid attention to that little voice saying, Visit Mrs. Franklin. Tell her what an impact she made on your life. No, I just ignored it for years until one year when I finally made the effort.

Her voice intonation and pattern sounded exactly as if she were still at the blackboard conjugating a Latin verb in that Indiana classroom. It was just like old times – except it was gibberish. Advanced Alzheimer’s does that to people. She had no idea who I was and couldn’t comprehend my very tardy, very feeble “Thank you, Mrs. Franklin.”

When a small voice tells you to take the time and make the effort to say thank you, pay attention. DO IT – before it’s too late. Saying “thank you” the way I’m doing it now stinks.

© 2013, Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text of quote from Shakespeare about saying thank you

From Willie’s Twelfth Night, Act III, Scene III

red box with white text of quote by William Arthur Ward: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

An oft-quoted author of inspirational maxims