I was blessed to be Hans’s teacher for the last year. We spent most afternoons together sitting at the kitchen table. I instructed in reading and mathematics, Hans in turn, taught me the life skills of courage, strength, and hope.
Needless to say, what I taught was not as meaningful; although you wouldn’t know it by the way Hans attacked his lessons. He was a bright young man. The day the skill of reading words clicked he became a ravenous reader. He read everything from the TV guide to flyers to billboard signs. This meant he was now wanting to bring Honey to school for pet day and not relinquishing control of the remote because he wanted to watch something he read on the TV guide. Hans was a natural at mathematics. All I had to do was show him a concept and after a few practices on paper, at my insistence, he would do the math in his head. It was an amazing sight to see.
As Hans’ health continued to weaken, we moved class time from the table to the couch. This was difficult for Hans because he liked everything in its place and lessons on the couch infringed on his relaxing space. Yet he never said no to me. On the days he felt well enough I would show him math problems and he solved them without touching a pen, and on those other days we would read one of his favorite books, Winn Dixie, a story a story about a kid and her dog. He was dedicated to improving, whether it was in dealing with his cancer or increasing his knowledge.
As an educator, Hans’s passing has left me with a void I cannot fill. This beautiful boy was so bright and eager to learn and there was still so much I wanted to teach him. I take comfort in the fact that he now has the best teacher, teaching him, God. I picture Hans with curly locks running and plopping down at the feet of our Lord, to hear the rest of Winn Dixie and other great books.
As for me, what Hans taught me cannot be measured by grades. He taught me to fight hard for what is important, no matter how insurmountable the struggle seems. To never give up, no matter what life throws at you and to cherish each day you can hold a loved one close.
Thank you Hans for our afternoons together.
Thanks, Jackie! Hans loved you and it made me a proud mama to see how hard he worked for you!