A humor series on navigating this difficult time
Today, I’m sharing another installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way.
If you’re new to this series: Here’s the previous installment. Read on.
Sometimes life is unspeakably beautiful. Even in the midst of a pandemic.
That happened to me this week, and it’s the reason I can get teary in an instant. It’s the remembering that takes over —the alchemy of love for a particular person, from a particular time in your life, the longing for that time that is no more and the acceptance of how many decades separate then from now.
Mr. Trinity was my high school drama teacher. He was of average height and build, fair-skinned, thin-lipped, blonde-haired (with an adult’s version of a crew cut, a bit too short). His clothes were standard issue slacks, jacket, shirt and tie, wholly forgettable. But his blue eyes saw through each and every one of us in his class.
Mr. Trinity was unassuming. You’d be hard-pressed to locate his ego. But there was something about the guy. At 16, I figured Mr. T. (as I call him) to be on the far side of middle age in 1963. Only now, in 2020, do I realize he was a mere 36 years old as he held court, dissecting Shakespeare, directing scenes, creating prompts for improvisation. And only now do I marvel at the fact that outside the classroom he was father to five children!
May I take this opportunity to share the events of this past week and bring you up to speed on Mr. T., my favorite influencer? (And trust me, this is a guy who would find it a hoot to be referenced that way).
Here’s the thing about Mr. T. He talked to us, taught us, joked with us, admonished us as though we were his equals. He respected us enough to not talk down to us. He cared enough to listen attentively to our opinions. He made us feel worthy. He told sophisticated stories confident in our ability to get nuance.
He was a rose among thorns. Not that our other teachers were evil or slack in their jobs but no one could match his subtle, spot-on insight on how to relate to know-it-all teenagers.
Here’s the backstory. I, Ramona, lost my very close friend, Anita in April (not from this damn coronavirus), but she died at a time when the virus would prevent having a traditional funeral. Along with her brother I arranged a Zoom memorial for family and friends. I sleuthed around and with the help of another classmate, and found 24 of us from our small suburban New Jersey town who had graduated with Anita and me in the Class of 1964.
The funeral was — as they say —well attended and virtually wonderful. No one would have loved the high-tech aspect more than Anita and no one would have enjoyed the ‘60s vibe and her favorite Springsteen music (“Waitin’ on a Sunny Day”), emanating from our laptops. Re-connecting was the theme and as it turned out, most people online wanted to stay re-connected.
I arranged a Zoom reunion for the following month to provide a forum for everyone to share their stories of the last 56 years (in under 5 minutes☺) Many who spoke mentioned (drumroll…) Mr. Trinity in their remarks and it became clear that he was the favorite teacher for a large portion of the class.
A couple of months prior to my Zooms, my husband K., had shown me an article in The New York Times with the headline: 92 Years Old, Scared and Pleading to Come Home. The subhed read, “A family grapples with a wrenching coronavirus question: Do we leave our father in the nursing home?” It was a poignant story about none other than our Mr. Trinity being taken out of a nursing home and brought home by his five adult children. The article was written by his son-in-law, Dan Barry.
After hearing at our Zoom reunion how much Mr. Trinity meant to the Class of 1964, I emailed Dan Barry, filling him in on how beloved his father-in-law was by his students and asking if Mr. Trinity might like to ‘attend’ next month’s Zoom reunion so we could tell him how deeply loved he is.
Yesterday I received a response that said, “Joe is doing pretty well, though he’s turning 93 next month, and dealing with all the challenges that brings.” He went on to say, “My father-in-law vividly remembers you. Thank you again for the note, which brightened Joe Trinity’s day.”
I concurred with Dan that a Zoom appearance might be too much. Dan and I have since decided that the best option might be for the Class of 1964 to write letters to Mr. T.
So we will do that. Another classmate suggested everyone make short videos on their iPhones. We will do that too. The plan is to edit these together and send our long overdue (better 60 years late than never) loving tributes to Mr. Trinity for his 93rd birthday.
And that’s what I mean about life being unspeakably beautiful.
Even in a pandemic.
Pam Goldman is a writer, therapist, wife, mother and (young) grandmother. Her work has been published in The New York Times and VIVA Magazine. She is completing her first book, titled LEFT.
This originally appeared on Medium.