Katy McKenna Raymond  
Personal blog of christian writer Katy McKenna Raymond in Kansas City, Missouri

Personal blog of christian
writer & fallible mom
Katy McKenna Raymond
in Kansas City, Missouri

Katy is represented by
Greg Johnson at
WordServe Literary

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Teach Your Children Well

When you get older, sleep becomes a commodity that can’t be depended upon.

I’ve been awake since three o’clock. A booming sound, one Doug and I never did identify, awakened both of us from a sound sleep. He made a quick tour of the house to make sure nothing critical was about to blow and then came back to bed.

Within thirty seconds of his head hitting the pillow, he’d returned to a blissful rest. Within five minutes, I was bawling like a baby.

What could make me weep like a crazy lady at that hour of the night? Thankfulness, that’s what.

A very, very, very fine houseFor some reason that’s completely beyond me, I began to remember how my mother would wake me up each morning, starting with the first day of Kindergarten. She’d call up the stairs, in a sing-song of a tune I can still imitate, “Katy…Miss Prendergast is calling…”

I’d sit straight up in bed with a huge smile on my face, because it wasn’t Saturday or Sunday—it was a school day! Then I’d hop up, put on my white blouse with the Peter Pan collar, my navy blue jumper, and my saddle oxfords and run downstairs for breakfast.

Katy in Kindergarten - 1959Mom would hand me my plaid bookbag and if she had a note she needed to send to Miss Prendergast, she’d attach it to the bib of my uniform with a safety pin and I’d be all set. I’d skip the three blocks to St. Elizabeth’s Catholic School and there she’d be waiting for me—my favorite teacher in the world. Not a day of Kindergarten ended without me wrapping my tiny arms around one of Miss Prendergast’s thighs and her bending down to kiss me good-bye.

I wept last night just thinking about it.

During the summer months, Mom didn’t sing me awake. But come September, 1960, she started singing the second verse of the same sweet song. “Katy…Sister Sheila Ann is calling…” Sweet Jesus, how I loved Sister Sheila Ann!

Saint Elizabeth's Primary and the trees of temptationShe only had one strong word to speak to me in the entire first grade. It broke my heart when she corrected me that day, because I knew that somehow she’d been misled on that one subject, and oh, how I hated to think she wasn’t quite perfect. It was in October, and the maple tree right outside the classroom window had burst upon my senses with its sheer brilliance. I could not control my little six-year-old self. All I could do was stare in rapture.

“Katy McKenna,” Sister Sheila Ann said, “eyes to the front of the room! Stop staring out that window!”

Even then I knew that in her soul of souls, she didn’t mean it. She wanted with all of her being to be staring out that window, too. She just couldn’t admit it, because she was all grown up.

I wept last night just thinking about it.

“Katy…Miss Walterbach is calling…” She of the full-skirted shirtwaist dresses with the narrow belts around her tiny waist. I adored her.

“Katy…Miss Byrne is calling…” Her blistering auburn hair burned as brightly as her name. I worried that she’d fall in love and marry a man whose last name was Ash or Dirt. She shone. I worshipped her.

“Katy…Mrs. Shook is calling…” She was eight months pregnant that November, when the janitor rolled the TV in on a cart and we all watched as they told us our President was dead. Her whole body shook as she wailed and I was so afraid she’d lose the president and her baby on the same day. I needed her.

“Katy…Sister Kathleen Ann is calling…” She told my parents that their daughter had a gift, that they needed to make sure college was in my future. Me? A gift? I stopped feeling invisible. I appreciated her.

“Katy…Sister Rose Ellen is calling…” She was the most beautiful nun I’d ever seen. She didn’t let me slide, she pushed me to do my best. I wanted to be just like her.

I wept tears of joy last night, thinking about these women. God blessed me with teachers from heaven for seven years in a row. The difference they made in my life? It’s hard to explain, but I’ll never forget them so that says something, doesn’t it?

Sometimes it’s pure bliss to give up a little sleep, remembering.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/27/06 at 07:20 AM
Fallible Comments...
  1. What a wonderful tribute! I hope you publish that somewhere. As a teacher, my heart was touched, and I wondered what my legacy would be in the wee hours of someone's morning.

    Love the school picture, by the way.
    Posted by Ginger  on  07/27/06  at  08:08 AM
  2. Beautiful post.
    Posted by Carrie K.  on  07/27/06  at  09:37 AM
  3. What a darling of a post from a darling of a lady.

    Take Care
    Posted by Michael #2  on  07/27/06  at  10:19 AM
  4. Beautifully written, a beautiful tribute. I bet you were as much a blessing as you were blessed.
    Posted by Susan  on  07/28/06  at  05:48 AM
  5. Thanks, you guys!

    I read this to my mom yesterday when I went to visit. She didn't remember the song she used to sing, even when I sang it to her. But she loved hearing about it. When I read her the part about my Kindergarten teacher, Miss Prendergast, she said, "She was married, with a little boy." That surprised me. "Are you sure?" I asked. "I'm sure. I gave her all of Patrick's clothes for her toddler."

    Patrick was my older brother. He died when he was four, and I was nearly two. Mom held onto those clothes for several years, and then placed them in a suit box and carried it up to school late one afternoon, after all the children had gone home. Mom said my teacher's child really needed those clothes....

    This made me cry yet again. I'd never heard this story until yesterday.

    By the way, I have Patrick's coloring books, crayons, and story books. They are my treasures.
    Posted by Katy  on  07/28/06  at  07:27 AM
  6. katy..you must have had a lot of fun looking back at your adorable little girl pictures when you were raising your grade schoolers..i can see each of them in that grin!
    Posted by lisa  on  07/31/06  at  05:56 PM
  7. To hope that I will be able to touch even one of my students in such a manner. Thank-you for helping to bring back my own "teacher" memories!

    Posted by Eric  on  08/02/06  at  10:32 PM
  8. Of all the things you have written through the years, this is one of my absolute favorites, Katy. Thanks for touching me and making me proud to be a teacher. Love you!
    Posted by Bridget  on  08/10/06  at  10:46 PM
  9. I loved reading those beautiful memories...I also teach at a Catholic school in Kansas City and feel so blessed to be given an opportunity to make a difference in a student's life...What a wonderful writer you are!
    Mrs. Pendergast
    Posted by Sarah Pendergast  on  06/15/11  at  09:20 PM
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