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A Hug From A Teenage Boy

Fifteen years spent in the field of education have provided Nancy Marra with many treasured moments. One of the most endearing happened when she was teaching second grade.

That year, she decided to plan something special for the children: a Mother’s Day tea. Nancy and the children came up with ideas of how to honor their mothers. They practiced singing songs. They memorized a poem. They made sand candles and wrapped the candles in hand-stenciled, white paper bags tied with pretty ribbons. They wrote and decorated individual Mother’s Day cards.

They decided to hold their tea the Friday before Mother’s Day. Each child took home an invitation with an RSVP at the bottom. Nancy was surprised and relieved to see that every mother was planning to attend. She even invited her own mother.

Finally, the day arrived. That afternoon, each child lined up at the classroom door in anticipation of the arrival of his or her mom. As it got closer to starting time, Nancy looked around and her eyes quickly found Jimmy. His mother hadn’t shown up and he was looking stricken.

Nancy took her mother by the hand and walked over to Jimmy. “Jimmy,” Nancy said, “I have a bit of a problem here and I was wondering if you could help out. I’m going to be really busy introducing our songs and our poem and pouring the punch. I was wondering if you could maybe keep my mother company while I’m busy. You could get her punch and cookies, and give her the candle I made when it’s time.”

Nancy’s mom and Jimmy sat at a table with two other mother/child pairs. Jimmy served Nancy’s mom her treats, presented her with the gift Nancy had made, and pulled out and pushed in her chair, just as they had practiced the day before. Whenever Nancy looked over, her mom and Jimmy were in deep conversation.

Ten years later, Nancy worked with students of all ages, educating them about the environment. This year, she was at a high school to take a senior class on a field trip, and there was Jimmy.

On the way back, Nancy had the students complete an outline of the day’s events, a short test and an evaluation of their trip. As she collected the student booklets, she checked them to see that everything was complete.

When she came to Jimmy’s evaluation page, he had written, “Remember our Mother’s Day tea we had in second grade, Mrs. Marra? I do! Thanks for all you did for me, and thank your mother, too.”

As they began unloading at the school, Jimmy made sure he was the last one to go. Nancy told him she really enjoyed what he had written. He looked rather embarrassed, mumbled his own thanks, and then turned to walk away. As the bus driver began pulling away from the curb, Jimmy ran back and knocked on the bus door. Nancy thought he had forgotten something. Jimmy jumped back on board and gave her a big hug. “Thanks again, Mrs. Marra. No one even knew my mom didn’t make it that day!”

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