EULOGY: MY FAVORITE TEACHER
“You Are Such A Wonderful Person
Just As An Angel From Up Above
I’m Sure The Lord Has Put You Here
To Show Others How To Love” … Melinda Tanner
Sometimes you meet someone in your life that inadvertently showed snippets of genuine kindness, never realizing how much profound effect it would have in your heart. It touches your soul in a very special way. That’s the kind of impact Ms. Deeta Reyes had imbued in my senses when she said, “You can do anything you set your mind to, because you have what it takes,” after I passed my certification exam. It meant a lot coming from my teacher who nurtured my medical skills, who was generous with positive affirmations, and who demonstrated by example how to be compassionate with the less fortunate students. Imagine the spectrum of emotions I felt upon hearing this lovely human being passed away not very long ago.
Many “could have – would have” ran through my mind hoping to ease the deep sorrow that slowly crept inside of me the day I heard the sad news. Perhaps, the anxiety of my husband’s pending gallbladder surgery made it even worse. Even my cat tried to console me by putting his front paws on my lap as if saying, “what’s wrong?” - as I sobbed while reading Ms. Reyes daughter’s old facebook posts, that I never got to read prior to her death. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to visit her at the hospital: To tell her how much I appreciated her encouraging words every time I come to her with school issues, for recognizing my academic accomplishments, and for making me laugh (unintentionally)with her antics.
When I stepped out of the door, after enrolling at Remington College to pursue Medical Assisting Program in the fall of 2009, I was greeted with a warm smile by a petite woman who was lugging a rolling crate filled with paperwork. Our eyes met and I instinctively opened the door for her. Judging from her attire, I figured she’s one of the teachers. I thought to myself, “I hope she’ll be one of my teachers.” My wish was granted and more. She became my favorite teacher for life.
I’ve heard this question many times: Who is your favorite teacher? And I’ve always answered it silently with – none! All I could remember about my teachers in the past is the smack on the head from my reading and writing teacher, whenever I missed pronouncing a word correctly, when I was still in elementary. While in high school, a teacher made me turn my chair around (I was sitting on the front row) to face my classmates, because I failed to heed her warning to stop chattering. The embarrassment I felt became an appendage to the word “teacher.”But my answer to the popular question transformed when Ms. Reyes became my teacher.
I’ve never seen a teacher who cared for her students – equally. She calmed our nerves during injection practices. When a classmate bruised my arm badly (we were each other’s guinea pig), she called me many times at home to make sure I was okay. When some students were hungry and didn’t have a dime to buy food, she gave her own money. I pitched in sometimes. She also loved to encourage students with musical skills. She griped at me one time during school event when I opted not to share my karaoke singing skill. We shared our love for food and music.
She was a giver: In words and in her actions. I always hear her praised students and acted like a cheer leader. She made me feel I was her favorite student, because of her kind words, but then I started noticing she showed the same kindness to other students. I realized that’s her nature, which transcends cultural boundaries. Many students at Remington probably didn’t realize Ms. Reyes was often the one responsible for coordinating and personally investing for the yearly hotdog meal shared to everyone. While at school, I’d pass by the teacher’s lounge and whenever I smelled the aroma of breakfast sausage and donuts wafting through the air, all I could think of were, “Ms. Reyes brought those yummies!” At times she surprised us with orange juice and donuts when almost all of us produced good grades. She always find excuse to treat her students and her colleagues.
She’s also gifted with a good sense of humor. She combined her teaching with levity, which is one of the things that are endearing to me. There’s never a dull moment in her class – at least for me. When we moved on to higher modules, she would stop and peek through the narrow glass part of the wall of the classroom and made silly facial and hand expressions like pretend crying because she missed us so bad, that broke me down into giggling fit. She told us many times we were her favorite class despite our idiosyncracies. I wanted to claim it’s because of me, but I know all too well nothing could be farther from the truth.
You never know when kindness expressed in any way, big or small, can have a tremendous imprint in someone’s life. No one is perfect, but what’s important is our predominant character that made a difference in the people we encountered. I’d be remiss if I fail to share to the world that a wonderful person named Deeta Reyes once walked with us on this earth.
Ben Cranshaw said, “There are many things that will catch your eye. But only a few will catch your heart.” Ms. Deeta Reyes caught my heart and she will be forever missed.