Yesterday's Magazette

9 – A Song For Mrs. Reed

A Song For Mrs. Reed


(Above: Photo of a beautiful foxglove near the Bronte bridge in Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.)

By Richard Ong

I stood next to the beautiful stone on a hot summer day lost in my thoughts for the words that would not come for my dearest Amanda. I had nothing to give her but my memories of how a young student’s life was changed forever by her passing.

I had a crush on my music teacher in grade ten. Her name was Mrs. Amanda Reed.

I remembered the first time she made an impression on me. Her long, dark hair flowed like a lush waterfall cascading down to her waist. The red angora sweater hugged her trim and shapely figure like a second skin. Her lips glistened with a touch of pinkish-red that made me wish for strawberry gum every time she spoke. Her perfume gave off a heady scent and made it difficult for me to concentrate in class.

Our age difference and the impossibility of establishing any form of relationship between us didn’t discourage me at all. I was in love and nothing else mattered.

I made sure that I got off early enough from the previous class to rush out of the main building towards the portable where the music class was taught. As the first person in the portable, I got to choose which desk to sit on. I took the first row center seat to be close to her. The daily sprint to my music class improved my cardiovascular resistance. I became one of the fastest runners in my gym class and participated in a four hundred-meter relay run that same year.

I dearly wanted to make an impression on Mrs. Reed. I practiced hard on the violin and borrowed as many compositions I could get my hands on in the library to improve my music.

If Mrs. Reed ever noticed my unguarded efforts to impress her, she didn’t show. She was a professional and teenage hormones were probably some of the things she trained to deal with when she took the job.

One day she took ill and lost her voice for a week. The class started off noisily as each student engaged in an animated conversation with one another. Mrs. Reed gestured for everyone to keep quiet. No one paid any attention. She tried to speak and the voice that I heard was nothing more than a hoarse whisper. Finally, she leaned over to where I sat and asked me to get everyone’s attention.

I felt privileged that she would think of me as her proxy. I felt like the proverbial first officer on whose shoulders rest the responsibility of keeping the ship in order in the event the captain was injured or worse. I was also upset at my fellow schoolmates for deliberately ignoring her and giving her unnecessary grief in her hour of need. Everyone knew from the supply teacher the day before that Mrs. Reed came down with a bad cold over the weekend. No one seemed to care but me. I resolved to set things right. I would make them listen.

I took a deep breath and yelled in a loud booming voice: “QUIET!”

The silence that quickly ensued was almost palpable. No one moved in his or her seat. All eyes stared at me, stared at Mrs. Reed and then back at me. Chris, the poor little kid behind me who received the brunt of my shout, had tears in his eyes. I didn’t intend to be so mean, but I guess love can motivate you to go any length. My valiant effort was justly rewarded by a hoarsely worded “thanks” from Mrs. Reed.

Christmas came and I decided to make my feelings known to my music teacher. I resolved to do that the cowardly way. I would give her a Christmas card decorated with roses and a mistletoe on the cover. I spent an hour browsing before making my selection at a local card store. It took me a week to think about what to write on the card. I became negligent of my homework, thinking about the day I would work up the courage to give the card to Mrs. Reed and worrying about her reaction to my unorthodox behavior. I finally decided to let the card’s preprinted prose “speak” for itself. I closed the dedication with the words, “Love and Always.”

I gave the card to Mrs. Reed at the end of the last music class of the year. She smiled and thanked me for my thoughtfulness. I left the portable and walked all the way home with a warm glow in my heart and a silly smile on my face.

“Damn the consequences,” I thought.

She left the school the following semester for a job in California.

I never saw her again.


Recently, as I sat in front of a group of eleventh grade students teaching classical music, I came upon an email from a colleague who had been with the school for twenty-five years. She asked me whether I could attend a memorial service to be held for one of the founding teachers of our school. She was my predecessor who taught in the very portable where I worked.

My tears came unbidden, as if twenty-five years had only been yesterday. I heard the faint whispers among my students as if they sensed the sudden grief that washed over them. I typed a brief reply saying that I would come.

As I stood next to the beautiful stone, I felt a soft breeze caress the back of my neck and I smiled, for I finally found the words to say on her behalf.

“Amanda Reed was a special woman who changed my life forever. I could only hope that I would be able to inspire music into my own students as much as she did in her own time. Though she may rest in peace, her passion for teaching will live on in every music that we play.”

I placed the rose and the mistletoe on the stone and bent down to kiss the earth where she lay.


1 Comment »

  1. Great story a real tear jerker

    Comment by john — August 5, 2009 @ 6:54 pm | Reply

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