Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Golden Sky Blogfest

In honor of Elisa's book release The Golden Sky tomorrow, she has asked the blogging community to share a story of loss today.

EC Writes

 In my 27 years of life, I have been blessed. My grandparents are still alive, except for my mom's dad who died when I was only 6, and I haven't lost any aunts, uncles, or cousins. We have lost 2 of Branden's grandpas since we have been married, but those are his stories so I didn't feel right in sharing them. I did have a cat who lived to be 19 and I held her as she slipped from the world but that is for another day. Very recently, I experienced my first lost of someone who had been in my life from almost the beginning. Here's the story of my second grade teacher.

When I was very young, I had one big thing I was really looking forward to: second grade. My older sister told me the fabulous tales about how amazing it would be. What was so special about second grade? Mrs. Raycraft. Sure there were other second grade teachers, but there was nothing more exciting than knowing you got to be in Mrs. Raycraft's class. She went to the same church as us so I knew how much she loved hugs even before I stepped into her class.

When the blessed age came and the school year started, I excitedly started my year with Mrs. Raycraft. I gave her a hug every single day (probably twice if you include saying 'goodbye'), and when she hurt her arm and had it in a sling, I gave her 'half hugs' so I didn't bump her bad arm. She loved reading in her class, and two books I remember were Shilo and Where the Red Fern Grows. Shilo was about a platypus, and we had a stuffed animal Shilo that we took turns taking home for the weeknd. Now if you know anything about Where the Red Fern Grows, you would know it has a very sad ending. Even though Mrs. Raycraft read this every year to her class, she always ended up crying when she got near the end and had to have a student finish it for her. The highlight of the year though, was the month long study on Hawaii that ended with a big luau party. We learned how to spell Hawaii's state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (I didn't even have to google that!), and enjoyed some tasty food, including a coconut that had been mailed whole with the address stamped on the husk.

It was a great year, but it wasn't a sad ending because I knew that Mrs. Raycraft didn't stop at just being a second grade teacher. She loved each and every one of her students, so when summer vacation came along, she would get sad and miss being with the kids. Keeping up with her students was important as well, so she went to every year's high school graduation to see her students on. Of course I got to still see her at church, until we changed churches when I was 13, but it's a small town so she was always in and out of my life. And each time I saw her, I always gave her a huge hug. She was at my sis's graduation and at my graduation, and when my sis got married, she and her wonderful husband were at the wedding. When my wedding finally came, I excitedly sent an invitation to her and her husband, knowing that she wouldn't miss this special moment of mine for the world. And she didn't miss it. Her and her husband sat smiling in the back as I cried my way through the ceremony.

Earlier this year when I was back in the States, I worked with my mom cleaning houses. Mrs. Raycraft was finishing her last ever school year before retiring this summer and her husband was very ill and unable to get around, so my mom was cleaning her house. I got to tag along and had such a good time catching up with her husband and giving a little company to their ever so sweet German Shepherd, Maddie. The first time I went to clean with my mom, I noticed she had a photo of my sis, bro-in-law, and nephew on her fridge. It was a wonderful reminder that she was so much more than our second grade teacher.

About a week before Branden and I moved to Ireland, Mrs. Raycraft's husband passed away and I was unable to go to the funeral. The entire trip to the States, I hadn't been able to see Mrs. Raycraft and I really wished I could have been at the funeral to just give her one more hug, but sadly, we weren't able to go. Branden and I moved soon after, Mrs. Raycraft retired, and then discovered she had cancer. My mom continued to clean for her and would give reports on how Branden and I were doing. Mom would also give reports to Branden and me on how she was doing. The treatment was very harsh and she wasn't taking it very well.

We send out a monthly newsletter to our family and friends back home that Mom would print out and take to her. I also wrote her a letter and emailed it to mom to take to her. Something I've never really mentioned in my posts before, is just how Branden and I survive financially over here. The only way we have been able to pay our bills and have food to eat is from the generosity of family and friends. Mrs. Raycraft didn't have much, so I remember the tears springing to my eyes when my mom told us that she was going to be contributing what little bit she could monthly. Living by donations is humbling enough, but I felt an extra tug on my heartstrings as this woman, who had lost so much recently, and who technically was 'just my 2nd grade teacher', had yet again made sure to be there through the biggest moments of my life.

Last week, she lost her battle and joined her husband to continue her journey with her Lord. There are so many lost children in heaven and I know they now get to have Mrs. Raycraft.


  1. That was really touching! I'm glad you were able to find an outlet to express the sadness you felt over her loss. (Goosebumps!!) She sounded exceptionally awesome and you were lucky to have known her.


  2. One of my greatest losses in life was of my sixth grade English teacher...teachers have such a delicate job; I believe that they touch the soul as its being formed. I'm sorry for your loss, but you did give her a beautiful tribute and I am happy to have read it.

  3. A great tribute to a great woman, Princess. {hugs}

  4. Your relationship with her was one to be treasured for sure. You were lucky to have her in your life.

  5. What a fitting tribute to such an important person in your life. Sounds like you were just as important to her. There should be many more Mrs. Raycrafts in this world, and many more Maggie's.

  6. You did a great job telling people about a great woman! I didnt even have her for a teach but I was in the class next to her for third grade and she wouldnt let anybody into the two classrooms with out a hug. She had the best hugs ever. :)

  7. Lil Dreamer, she really was exceptional and I was so lucky to be blessed by her life.

    Regectedriter, welcome to my cell! It's so good to hear that you had a great teacher in your life as well. I love what you said about teachers, mine would have loved that.

    Joshua, *hugs back*

    Boomer, not everyone gets a treasured teacher so I count myself as blessed.

    Stephanie, thank you. I agree we need more Mrs. Raycrafts...but more Maggie's would make the world a very loud place! lol

    Carrie, thanks! That's what's so great about her, is that even though you didn't have her as a teacher, she still made sure to let you know that she cared. And she definitely had the best hugs in the world!

  8. Princess, What a lovely tribute to your teacher. I especially like the final sentence.


  9. More tears! That last paragraph was beautiful.

  10. You did a great job honoring her and her husband today. Thank you for sharing this extremely personal post my friend..

  11. Really heartfelt and well written, a very nice tribute. This really made me nostalgic for all my past teachers and people who have raised me.

  12. Cancer is such a sad thing. I'm glad she's with her husband again. She sounds soo amazing!

  13. Lola, thank you. I just wish I could have been at her service. I can't even imagine how many people were there.

    Fishducky, this has been quite the tearful blogfest but I have loved all the unity it has given us!

    Melynda, thank you, that means a lot. I am so grateful that you decided to expose your raw and heart wrenching story today. I am still reeling from it but I am feeling blessed to have seen yet another beautiful aspect of your soul. Thank you.

    Mike, I'm glad I could give you a piece of nostalgia. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  14. Elisa, she was absolutely amazing and your kids would have had a total blast if they could have had her as a teacher. I am so glad that you have done this for Zeke, for yourself, and for all of us bloggers. I don't think there has ever been this much love oozing from the internet before! Take it all in!!!
    Thank you!

  15. You're right, Paige--TODAY I LOVE EVERYBODY!!

    Tomorrow? We'll see.

  16. So, SO good.

    Wouldn't it be awesome if she were Zeke's teacher? Maybe she's teaching all grades in heaven.

  17. Hey Fishducky, you talkin to me? I just got over here...LOL

    This post was beautiful. I loved the very last line. It was a perfect ending. She sounds like she was a wonderful lady...:)

  18. Wow! Thank you very much for that post. My mom was a VERY special woman. I know how much teaching meant to her...well it WAS her. Growing up, I always knew she was a teacher as her job, but it wasnt until later in life when I really started to appreciate how it WAS her. I know she was ready to go back to school a week into Summer vacation. It was her passion.

    I don't know the number of times I've bragged to others about her and what a great teacher she was. It amazes me that she could remember everyone of her former students. But, when you love something so much, all the details of that tend to stay with you.

    As much as she loved teaching, she loved her boys even more(dad included in that). She gave my brother and I a great example of what marriage should look like and what it means to love your children. The way I treat my kids is mostly based on the way I was loved by my parents. My youngest son is alot like Grandma, he loves his hugs and asks for them frequently. She did love her Grandkids and they sure loved her!

    My mom will be greatly missed, but I know she is with her oldest "boy" now and is enjoying Heaven with him. She is no longer in pain and has a completely healthy body praise God!

    Thank you again for the wonderful blog post regarding my mom!

  19. Fishducky, since you called Paige, no harm done...actually that's one of the best compliments I've had in a while! lol

    Julianna, I'm sure she's probably already met him and they both get to watch this unfold :)

    Paige, I will be happy to be mistaken for you (as long as I don't have to deal with twins!). I'm glad you liked the last line, it was my favorite...even if my 'editor' deleted "I" from it and we just figured it out this morning!

  20. Steve, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your heart for your parents. With as much love she showed to her students, I can only imagine how much more love she showed to you, your brother, and your dad. When I worked with my mom, cleaning your parent's house, I had some great conversations with your dad. Most of the time he talked about his great love for his boys which I loved hearing about. His eyes would light up at just a mention of you and your brother.

    You were absolutely blessed with incredible parents who allowed God's love to completely shine through them. Thats why they could love their family with such depth and could also show love to everyone they met. It's good to hear you are raising your kids the same way. They will never lack love.

    I am very glad that both of your parents are no longer in pain but it's still sad that the world had to lose two of the most loving people. I'm sorry for your loss but at least you have the same love in you that they had in them.

  21. Sounds like one of those once in a lifetime kind of teachers.

  22. This was a sad but wonderful story Maggie. Thanks for telling it. Keep your happy memories of Mrs Raycraft - Dave

  23. My all time favorite teacher was Mrs.Raycraft, 22 years ago! I'll never forget the "Fried Ham" song or the "Peanut butter and jelly" song. I sing them both with my kids.
    We always had fascinating projects going on. I loved it when she read Where the Red Fern Grows! It was great to read about her today. Thanks for this post.


Does this straitjacket make my butt look big?