Oct 28 9:53pm – I have hesitated to discuss “Remembering Regina” from this past Wed mostly because I didn’t want to overload you with tons of compliments and positive adjectives (though most appropriate, without doubt). I will do my best in a moment to tell you about the evening and attempt to give you a feel for what I felt and saw while being with the teachers, staff, parents, and students – all friends – who cared so much for Regina.
But first and yes, there is a huge storm off of the coast of VA this evening. And by all accounts, it is going to take a left turn in a few hours and smash somewhere into the VA-MD-DE-PA-NJ-NY coasts and waterways – one of the most congested and populated locations in the US. Along with all of the hype, there truly is a risk of many people getting hurt if they don’t stay at home and out of harm’s way on Mon and Tues. Time will tell about property damage. Planning and prayers – prayers and planning. It might be a long 24 – 48 hours. There are even blizzard warnings up in western MD and in WV. This may be a doozy.
Oddly, I received a recorded robo-call message from Stafford County Schools about an hour ago telling teachers that school was canceled on Mon. StaffCo and every other school system in NOVA, DC, and eastern MD is closed, too. I guess kids and teachers are a little bit excited about being off on Mon but, again, it might be a long Mon and Tues for all of us.
This is a good time to button up in the house, have some plans and back-up plans, have some provisions, and hope to goodness that things don’t get out of control.
It has been sputtering with drizzle and rain since around 5pm this evening with the hard stuff hitting any time now.
So, I will share some thoughts about this past Wed night:
- This has been in the planning stages for quite a few months. I first got wind of this even back in the summer when I was told that the school wanted to do something nice for Regina once school got started again in the fall. It was evident that many kind people did an awful lot of work and preparation for such a perfect evening. I would never have imagined such an event in behalf of Regina. (And she would have really enjoyed the proceedings.)
- We met a few minutes after 4PM in the RES library. The tables had been set up with pretty pink and white tablecloths. The top of one library bookshelf had been converted to a photo gallery – lots of pictures of Regina and school chums from over the years collected up by the teachers – in all kinds of serious and silly situations. Such wonderful pictures. And at one end of the gallery was a beautiful white and pink cake with a picture of Regina in the middle of it. Finger-foods, fruit, and, of course, the famous little egg rolls (that is what I call them) that one of Regina’s friends and staff members used to make for her and others – Regina would bring them home sometime and then hide them in the refrigerator from me then say she had something special and I couldn’t have any. Silly. The punch was very tasty, too.
- We sat at our tables. So many guests – teachers, parents, friends, kids, staff, school board, husbands. A very elect and select group.
- I would love to mention people by name but I will miss someone – I’m sorry. But extremely kind words, anecdotes, accomplishments, and memories were shared by at least ten people. Silly stories. Stories of Regina helping out, giving advice, meeting a new teacher, welcoming a teacher back, helping the young teachers, taking the tough kids, reading to the kids, keeping things organized, Post-Its everywhere, books everywhere and sorted, and on and on. Thanks to those of you who gave me written copies of your ‘speeches’ – they mean so much to me.
- Pictures and videos up on the screen – so many funny and happy times. It evoked – I’m sure in all of us – feelings of happy and sad all together. And yes, Regina was a pretty happy person – she liked to be happy.
- And yes, she liked to sing. She grew up singing. Her father was a song leader at church and Regina remembered the times he would ask her to go along with him and help out or sing at various church functions – weddings, funerals, events. Before she started getting so sick, she would routinely walk around the house humming or whistling under her breath. I remember thinking one time and maybe even mentioning it to Nick that Regina had quit humming – something was wrong. I also remember that one day I walked in on her at WHC back in Jun and caught her humming – she was happy at that moment. I’m glad she was able to be happy even in the hospital. She was strong.
- Her classroom rocking chair – the school gave it to Nick and Laurie. It sat in her classroom #34 for many years. I remember seeing her sitting in it here at home with the boys and then at school with kids sitting in front of her while she would be reading to them. A good, safe spot for her and the kids, yes.
- The art teacher painted a beautiful portrait of Regina. I have it here with me now. She said, “It’s the second best portrait I’ve ever done. My best was of my mother.” And she said she had just “finished the eyes last night”. Thank you so much. It is perfect.
- On each table someone had placed little pink index cards. Guests were invited to write some thoughts on them about Regina and then the cards would be collected at the end. Well, the cards were picked up and tied together with a pretty white bow. I have them sitting right here by me by my left hand – I haven’t read them yet. I can’t read them – I’m just not ready. I’m thinking I will hold them and read them on Nov 24 – Nov 24 being what would have been our 34th wedding anniversary. I’ve carried them in my shirt pocket the last few days thinking I might look at them but I’m not quite ready. I showed them to my support group yesterday. I guess it hit a cord – it really was an emotional thing for all of them to see the pack of pink cards with all of the words on them. I understand. Thank you.
- One teacher-friend gave me a copy of her words that she gave in behalf of Regina back in Mar at a kindergarten program – she had taken probably fifty quotes from children about Regina. ”She gave us extra recess on my birthday.” “She was kind and cared about all students.” ”She let us write about lots of things, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.” “When we played the quiet game, I got to be it.” “She let my parents come when it was my birthday.” “Mrs. Zumwalt let us do puzzles, read picture books, and take left over snacks when we forgot our own. She is a great person and was a great teacher.”
- Several teachers remembered how Regina had this…umm…problem of always chatting during meetings when she should have been listening to what was being presented. I can attest to this. She was by far always one of my worst students when she was in one of my groups or classes. Miss Chatty is what I called her. I empathize with those who had to put up with her chit-chat during meetings and such. Very disturbing.
- A beautiful guest book was filled out by those in attendance and presented to me. Thanks to all of you for being with us.
- Another teacher-friend reminded us of how many Post-It notes Regina used to keep things straight and organized. I can also attest to this – and I mentioned this and I am excited to be getting Regina’s day planner along with all of the Post-It notes that will accompany it. I have many here, too, and I plan to put them all in a special little collection – I will call it ‘Regina’s Post-It Life’. She loved her Post-It notes!
- And yes, Regina was organized. At home and at school. Many remembered her filing system for her books, her big black monthly planning binders (they are like the “Holy Grail”, someone said) that will continue to be used by others, and the orderliness of her class. I agree. She was good at this kind of thing. Unfortunately, someone mentioned that Regina had mentioned to them that Regina had said that she controlled our house “except for Fred’s room”. I think I know what Regina meant – she was NOT allowed in the room. I existed in there just fine, thank you, without her organizational skills.
- I met Erin. I will mention Erin because I have mentioned her before here in telling one of the most amazing and touching stories I have ever heard. Several months ago, RES was put into contact with Erin – she was looking for a teaching position. And that worked out, obviously. But more wonderfully, Erin had been one of Regina’s students many years ago. I was given a RES yearbook from the year that Erin was a kindergartner at RES in Regina’s class a long time ago – little and blonde and simple and pretty. And Erin is now a kindergarten teacher at RES. Erin is a beautiful, kind, sincere, and (according to her administrators) good teacher. I’m so happy to have met Erin. The best to you, Erin, and do your best. Regina would be proud, I know.
- The library and the dedication was, for me, the hardest part. You and I see monuments and the like everywhere – especially here in Virginia. But to now be associated with a library for teachers took (and takes) my breath away. RES has established a professional library from which teachers can draw books to help them grow and be better teachers. Regina (I remember her talking about this) liked to meet and mentor new teachers but also liked to actively engage in their training and direction. She was good at it – and I’m honored and proud of Regina for having a library named after her and filled with educational material that others can use for a long time. I am truly humbled and am so proud of Regina. The plaque is beautiful – “She inspired students to read with a love of music, rhymes, and fingerplays.” I can’t think of a better epitaph than this one. Perfect. Good for you, Regina.
- I must also say that I appreciated and understood the kind words shared with regard to Regina’s Christian influence and faith. ”She wasn’t pushy but she was honest in her faith,” someone said. I know many of you knew that Regina was a woman of quiet and rock-like faith – not one who felt compelled to wear it “out there” and make a scene. She and I often talked about – through the years – the best way to touch people. A number of times she would mention the fable about the contest between the kind warm sun and the blustery cold wind – the two who challenged each other to see who could get the jacket off of the man who was walking his cow down the road. Regina (and I) always liked the kind sun who shown brightly and comfortably and consistently such that the man was glad to remove his jacket – no tricks or anger or manipulation. Unlike the cold wind who only made the man wrap himself up even tighter in his jacket. Yes, I ascribe to this way of being someone’s friend – sustainable and sincerely. Regina was a master at it. God is happy with her, I’m sure. Perhaps we can all be more like Regina – very slow to anger and hurt and hate and quick to kindness and patience and love.
- We met for probably two hours – listening and watching and chatting and eating and remembering. This, remember, on a school night after one long day of school and the evening before another day of school. Several helped me pack up the goodies, I received quite a few hugs and many words of encouragement, and then Erin helped me carry my pictures out to my car.
It was nearly a perfect day – full of much happiness and joy and, yes, excruciating sadness. It was as close to a perfect day as one could have had, I think.
I am still very sad. But good memories of Regina and the reminiscing of her friends and acquaintances is like cool healing salve.
Thank you, from the depths of my heart, Rockhill friends, for your support, care, and love for all of these years. You enabled Regina to be the person she became and we are all better people for having known Regina.