Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Farewell to one of my Heroes

She encouraged my creative writing, and strengthened my technical writing. She inspired me to become an English major.

She taught me to understand and love English grammar through diagramming sentences. She is the reason I also adore the French language. (Oui, j'adore la langue Francais.) To this day I enjoy collecting things with French words printed on them. 

She would correct her students' grammar in a way that always made me grin.  For example,  a guy would ask, "Can I go get a drink?"  She would slide her reading glasses down her nose to inspect the asker before replying, "Well, I assume you can. Your legs work, and you can bend at the waist toward the water fountain.  Are you asking if you may get a drink? If so, then yes, you may."  

She often said something about learning  that I have never forgotten.  "If you haven't learned it, then I haven't taught it."  She believed in explaining things in myriad ways, and loved to answer questions, and reviewed often until we mastered French or English grammar.  She told us that cramming for a test and then forgetting what we learned was not really learning at all. If we could remember in May what she had taught in September, then we had learned.   I recall having said the very same thing to
my children (and all the students I've ever had)  at least 42 times a year.

She was the first female I knew personally who had been in the military.  I thought that was quite impressive.

She brought in a picture one day of herself surrounded by about 25 young African people.  The class clown asked, "Which one are you?"  And she said (I've never forgotten this, either), "Why, I'm the one wearing pantyhose, of course!" 

She compelled me to want to become a foreign missionary because of how she spoke of the people in Africa whom she loved dearly.

She had mercy on me in home ec class when I botched the sewing of a jumper.  That canary yellow jumper later got "upcycled," shall we say, into the brightest corduroy book covers a school has ever seen.  And, boy, were they ever seen.

She planted seeds deeply into my heart, seeds that sprouted these thoughts:  "That's what I want to be when I grow up--a teacher, a writer, a missionary, a caregiver of orphans, a friend of the poor."  The only difference was that I wanted to be married. She remained single all her life.

She was on my mind a few days ago while I was Windexing. Isn't that odd how someone from long ago pops into your head and gives your heart a lift  just remembering them?  Perhaps she was taking her last breath while I was thanking God for her.   I had no idea why--"out of the blue"-- her name was on my heart.  Now I do.

She was Ada Yarnall.  And she was a gift to me and to this world.

Rest in peace, Miss Yarnall.  I love you and appreciate your service to the Lord through your
teaching and example. Thank you.  I will see you again in a place where all grammar and punctuation will be perfect.

Her obituary made me weep and rejoice at the same time, grateful for her influence on my life.

(In the upper left corner of her story page is a montage of photos. I remember her looking like the one where she is dressed in red, when she was in her late 50's.)


Susan Kane said...

This made me teary, as I see the love and respect you have for Miss Yarnall. What a legacy!

I love this line:
And she said (I've never forgotten this, either), "Why, I'm the one wearing pantyhose, of course!"

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

The world definitely needs more Miss Yarnells. What a sweet tribute!

Joyce said...

What a lovely tribute. She sounds like a woman who used what God gave her for good. Wouldn't we all like to think we have touched a life this way?