A few years ago, I commissioned my mom to make me one of her Crazy Quilt Hearts using the school colors of the high school I was then teaching at. She had made me a couple for my apartment (one in multiple colors and one in blues that hangs in my living room), but I thought it would be cute to have a special school spirit heart for my classroom.
When I left that job, I thought about what I should do--it was unlikely that any school I would move on to would have the same color scheme (silver, black and teal), and I thought it might be nice to pass the heart, made with love by Mom, to someone at school.
With Mom's blessing, I settled, sort of last-minute, on giving it to Renee, our student accounts lady. From my first day teaching high school choir, Renee was one of many kind and helpful people at that school. I had several wonderful friends and mentors, but Renee, above all the rest, stood out as the person I should give the heart to. She had battled cancer previously, and yet never let it get her down. She loved her job, she loved the kids she worked for. And they loved her back.
Her office was wallpapered in senior portraits and dance pictures given to her by many, many students over the years. Her zest for life and school spirit was hardly matched by anyone.
On my last day, I walked down to her office and handed her the heart, explaining that it had been made for me with love, and now that I was moving on, I wanted it to have a good home at this school. I told her I'd chosen her because she was so helpful and patient with my incessant student accounts questions, forms that I didn't fill out correctly, and my constant deposits of money from fundraisers and concerts.
I know it meant a lot to Renee--her eyes teared up. She was touched by the gesture, and I felt good that I had given the heart to the right person--the person who would enjoy it's beauty in her office.
Renee's cancer came back. She passed away on New Year's Eve, leaving a husband and three kids who adored her. She also left a very large high school's staff and students bereft. It will take a miracle to find someone to replace her who has not only the expertise to do the job, but the spirit and happy energy that Renee possessed in spades.
Rest in peace, Renee. Thank you for all of your kindness. The world has lost one of its gems, for sure.