I remember my first day of school, my mother going with me to our old elementary school. My four older brothers had been ahead of me and each of them were blessed to have Miss Annie Maud in first grade. So, when Miss Annie Maud met me, she looked at me as if I were the only child in her world and said ~ "Well, I've been waiting for you. And, you have a lot to live up to, you know ~ being the little sister. I'm so glad you will be in my first grade classroom this year !"
That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Miss Annie Maud was adored by her students, the families, the grade mothers (remember them ?) and her former students, and all of the community. She followed me throughout my days in the elementary school, then on to junior high and high school, even college. Sending me notes of encouragement. And, somehow, she learned of my wedding and sent the sweetest card and gift. I have that gift to this day. We corresponded when she entered a nursing home, although I had moved far away by then; we remained close all those years. And, from the nursing home, she sent me a little gift which she had made and I keep close by today, in the same envelope, after all these years. Her handwriting was so special to me. She printed, of course. And, her printing was so distinctive to her. Even from the nursing home, as she aged, her handwriting was the same, just a little weaker, it seemed. A bit fragile. But, always recognizable to me in mail box and cherished even more over the years.
And, now today ~ even though she has been gone for years, I remember her. As I'm sure so many other of her first grade students do. I do not presume to believe that she treated only me with such special kindnesses. She was Miss Annie Maud. She loved us all.
And, since I now grow flowers (after being a teacher myself and now am a flower farmer,) every year in late February I prune all of my butterfly shrubs. I don't remember where I learned about pruning these shrubs on February 29. But, that has stayed with me, of course. I look forward to pruning on Leap Year, if we have that special day in our calendar and if our weather allows.. If not, February 28, unless we have too much snow. If that happens, I prune as soon as I can. And, somehow, over the years, I have come to associate my butterflies and butterfly bush blooms with Miss Annie Maud.
I do indeed feel blessed.