Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Story #3: How A Schoolteacher Met Her End

My third, and final, story for this month of story time is from a friend I have yet to meet. I enjoy Stephanie's writing and I wrote a bit about her and her family's journey with epilepsy here. It was fun to read the story of how she met her husband......

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The van’s headlights pierced the night, opening a door in the blackness for us to drive through. Behind me, the children chattered and argued, perhaps trying to keep themselves awake in the last miles before home.

“Tell us a story, Mom,” Jenica said from the back seat.

I rubbed my tired eyes. “I don’t know if I can think of one to tell.”

“Tell about the time you fell off the dump truck.”

Tarica’s feet pushed against my seat as she shifted. “What dump truck? I don’t remember that one.”

So I told the dump truck story. And the second-story-door story, a new one for them.

When I had finished, Jenica said, “Tell us another one. Tell us about how you met Dad.”

“You know that story already.”

“But tell it again.”

This story I could tell again without complaint. It was one of my favorites. I took a deep breath and began at a point in my life that I didn’t know—at the time—was the beginning of a love story.

Once upon a time, there was a fifth-grade schoolteacher who loved teaching school. She liked to play with her children at recess. But one day, she stepped into a hole on the playground while she was running, and something in her foot tore. The doctor made her wear a funny boot on her foot for several weeks while her foot healed.

Over this time, the schoolteacher met with a large group of young people every Tuesday night for chorus practice. Usually, the schoolteacher stood with the chorus during practice, but while her foot was in the boot, she had to sit on a bench nearby, right in front of the tenor section.

While she was sitting there, she noticed a young man in the tenor section that she didn’t recognize. That night, she asked her brother about that young man. Who was he?

“That’s Linford Leinbach,” her brother said.

“That’s not possible,” the teacher said. “I went to school with Linford Leinbach up to fourth grade, and he was the tallest boy in the room. That guy is short. Are you sure it isn’t one of his brothers?”

Her brother shrugged. “Well, I asked him his name, and he said, ‘Linford Leinbach,’ so it’s got to be him.”

Well then, it was Linford Leinbach after all. Now that the question was settled, the teacher didn’t think much more of him. Except . . . he did have a nice smile. But she was a schoolteacher, and she loved teaching school, even with a boot on her foot.

The chorus started giving programs. They took a bus to NYC for a day. By this time, the teacher’s foot had healed enough to take the boot off. That evening, on the way home, the young man named Linford Leinbach sat down in a seat across the aisle from the teacher. It was a long drive, so eventually he turned to the teacher and asked her what had happened to her foot.

So they talked for a while, about chorus and about those long-ago school days when they were classmates. They recalled trying to get the best grade in math. They figured out that they had seen each other once in the twelve years between fourth grade and now. The teacher found she liked talking to him. She remembered that she had thought him cute back in fourth grade. But she was a schoolteacher, and she loved teaching school, especially now that her foot was getting better. In fact, she loved teaching so much that she had said yes to another year of school.

The next Tuesday night, the chorus gave another program at a local retirement home. The teacher and Linford Leinbach talked again when they happened to meet outside. This happened several times at the next few programs. And once when the teacher went out to eat with her brother after a program, Linford was at the same restaurant. They talked a little there, too.

The teacher didn’t know it, but Linford was praying about her. He really liked her and wanted to spend more time with her, but he didn’t know if he should ask her to be his girlfriend. (The teacher was praying about him, too, but she was asking God to help her forget about Linford Leinbach because she was a schoolteacher and loved teaching.)

One Tuesday morning, Linford asked God to make it clear if he should ask the teacher or not. That evening at chorus, one of the other chorus members pulled Linford off by himself and said, “I think you and the schoolteacher would make a really good couple. I’m not pressuring you, but at least think about it.”

Linford felt that God had answered his prayer. So that night after he got home, he called the teacher before he lost his nerve and asked her if he could take her out and talk about maybe being more than just friends who talked after a chorus program.

The teacher was so surprised she didn’t know what to say, so she said she would think and pray about it before giving an answer. After she got off the phone, she went downstairs and told her mom what had just happened. And then she went upstairs to the bathroom and threw up.

This sounds like a bad thing, but the teacher did this when she got really nervous. During her first week of teaching, she threw up nearly every morning, even though she was excited about school. So maybe she was a little excited about this phone call.

The teacher did think and pray about it, and she realized that even though she loved teaching, God had other plans for her, and they were good plans. So she said yes, and he took her out for dinner. They talked and talked and talked and had so much fun they decided to keep doing it. So the teacher became a girlfriend, even though she had said she’d never date and teach at the same time.

Seven months later, Linford Leinbach asked the teacher to be his wife, and she said yes again. Three weeks after the school term ended, the teacher married Linford. Although she threw up that morning, she knew it was only because she was nervous about walking down the aisle, no longer a schoolteacher but a bride.

And all of a sudden, she is driving down a dark road with three precious children behind her who belong to her and Linford Leinbach. She isn’t sure how it happened, but she is glad it did.

As I stopped talking, silence filled the van. Then the girl behind me asked, “What are the children’s names?”

“Jenica and Tarica and Micah, and their mommy and daddy love them very much.”

They giggled—or rather, the girls did. Micah looked too sleepy to care.

“You didn’t know you would have a Tarica, did you?” Tarica asked. “Back when you were a teacher?”

“I had no clue about Tarica,” I said.

“Or about Jenica,” Jenica said. “Tell us another one.”

“We’re almost home.” I swallowed a yawn. “Ask me for a story another time.”

And if they ask for this story again, I’ll gladly tell them, because this story has the best possible ending: a happy one.

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Thank you so much, Stephanie, for sharing your story with us! If you enjoyed her writing, like I do, you might enjoy receiving her emails. To subscribe go to stephaniejleinbach.com and sign up or contact Stephanie at stephanie@stephaniejleinbach.com and ask to be added to the list.

This ends our "How We Met" stories for this year. I believe the stories God is writing with our lives are important. Those stories can disappear quickly. Since my mom's sudden passing two years ago, I am thankful for every bit of history that's written down but there are many stories I wish I could ask her to tell again. If you've never written down your own "How We Met" story, I encourage you to do it. Your children and grandchildren will thank you!

2 comments:

Rosina said...

I enjoyed these stories! Thank you for sharing them with us!

Tina Z. said...

I echo Rosina's comment. :)