Here’s to You, Mrs. Wilson

Chelsea hadn’t called in several months. As usual, her first thought was to check through the obituaries.

No, that Mrs. Wilson wasn’t old enough. That one was too old, and had lived in Newark. And that wasn’t an obituary -but was the Excellence in Education Award winners from twenty years ago.

She’d contributed a quote for that: “In all my years of school, including high school and college, I’ve never learned as much as I did in Mrs. Wilson’s class.”

Chelsea was a better writer now. She was also a mother of six boys. In Mrs. Wilson’s class, however, she’d been a bit of a trouble-maker. She’d written her own spelling lists, vowed to read the entire classroom library, built skyscrapers of the hand-me-down Lego sets, and nearly kicked Stupid Sally in the face after first chucking sand in it. Sally had grabbed Chelsea’s foot during a biased slide game; everyone ganging up to remove her from the top.

Not all recesses ran that way. No -Mrs. Wilson spent those special times with only her class, teaching jacks and double-dutch and kickball.

Ah, kickball. Chelsea remembered. Mrs. Wilson, blue-veined, bumpy legs in socks and long shorts, out there running and kicking with the best. They’d even held a teachers v. students game. The score had been close.

“Well, hello.” Mrs. Wilson sounded much the same as she had thirty years before. “I’m always surprised when a call comes through. I’m in Arizona.” Nearly blind and still traveling.

Chelsea smiled, remembering other calls; answered from England, Yellowstone, Las Vegas, California. She had a postcard from Antarctica and another from Nepal.

Of course, Arizona was as far as Mrs. Wilson went these days. The rest of her year Mrs. Wilson passed in her one-bedroom apartment with Alexa and the television for company. Chelsea knew, because they’d had conversations where Mrs. Wilson spelled Alexa’s name when she referred to it. No sense activating the eavesdropping electronic wonder during a discussion that didn’t include it.

“I’ve had my baby,” Chelsea said. “He’s another dark-haired, dark-eyed model.”

“Oh, wonderful. And how old is he? How do his brothers like him?”

Of all the things to talk about: seeing the Himalayas in person, flying across the Atlantic near-annually, or achieving Mrs. Wilson’s life goal of standing on the southernmost continent on Earth -she only ever asked after people. Amazingly, Mrs. Wilson also remembered everyone.

“How if your brother doing? Is he finished with medical school? How are the triplets?” Give Mrs. Wilson any name and she’d remember. Give her a Christmas and she had gifts lined up based on interests. “I found these darling carved bears one year, and Gunner loves bears so I decided to get them for him and his brothers.” Gunner, naturally, was one of Mrs. Wilson’s growing collection of great-grandchildren and great-great nephews and nieces.

As they spoke, Chelsea pictured Mrs. Wilson. Today, the backdrop was a ranchhouse in the middle of a Sedona nowhere. Well -that would be the view if Mrs. Wilson hadn’t lost most of her vision. Ten acres rested barely within range of a cell phone call.

“We’ll be leaving soon,” Mrs. Wilson said. “I’m packed and will be back home by next week.”

Back home, Mrs. Wilson sat amongst her life. It was an apartment Chelsea loved visiting and pictured herself retiring to, when she could retire like Mrs. Wilson. A small couch and recliner huddled amongst myriad books, a bison skull, petrified wood, Moqui marbles, Indonesian masks, a silk-paper calendar, unique dice, a lovespoon, and hand-carved Mancala boards. It was a simple place for a simple life, one that revolved around teaching, family, and travel.

“That sounds good,” Chelsea told her former teacher. “Travel safely.”

“Take care of those boys.”

“I will. Goodbye.”

Chelsea held the cell phone in her hand, a device that hadn’t existed in her elementary years. How many more conversations would she have with Mrs. Wilson? How many more trips? How many visits?

She looked at her newborn son. Really, she knew, it was the conversations they’d already had that mattered. The real question was, what would the next thirty years look like for Chelsea and her growing family? Would she make it to Antarctica?

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

Β©2021 Chel Owens

40 thoughts on “Here’s to You, Mrs. Wilson

  1. Nope, Not Pam November 20, 2021 / 2:11 pm

    She sounds like a wonderful woman, a real inspiration. I hope the phone calls continue for a very long time πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 20, 2021 / 4:05 pm

      Thank you, Not Pam. She’s doing fine so far…

      Like

  2. tnkerr November 20, 2021 / 3:27 pm

    Never made it to Antarctica, myself.
    I have been to the North Pole, though. It’s cold there.
    I had an English teacher like Mrs Wilson. Her name was Ms Brown. She had a few short stories and magazine articles displayed on the back wall of the classroom. She told us that former students had written them, and she encouraged us to write and send her copies of our published works so she could post them on the wall. She vowed to retire when the wall was filled.
    Great story, Chel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 20, 2021 / 4:07 pm

      Wow! North Pole! I’ve just barely nicked the bottom of Canada.

      Mrs. Brown sounds great and I love the idea of filling the wall with former students’ work.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Norah November 20, 2021 / 6:50 pm

    Love this, Chelsea. Such a beautiful tribute – to you both. Sounds like Mrs Wilson believed in you as much as you believed in her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. petespringerauthor November 20, 2021 / 11:18 pm

    Well, you knew I’d be all over this post. I’ve had a few Mrs. Wilson’s in my life. Teachers that care (most do) never forget their students. I can tell you that Mychal is running for public office, Breanne is still cutting hair but doing photography on the side which is her real passion, and that Erin was teaching, but now she is a full-time teaching coach. I could give you hundreds of other stories because Mrs.Wilson is rightβ€”it’s about the people. I promise you that your connection with Mrs. Wilson is as vital to her as it is to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 20, 2021 / 11:39 pm

      πŸ™‚ I thought about you after I posted it. I’m glad you got to read it because your many tributes to people you love inspired me to be bold and write it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • petespringerauthor November 20, 2021 / 11:52 pm

        Do you have her email? Think about sending your piece to her.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. robertawrites235681907 November 21, 2021 / 5:56 am

    This is a very sweet post, Chelsea. Surely you are not contemplating another baby. I do not know how you manage with six boys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 21, 2021 / 8:05 am

      Wellll, this story was just after having #6.

      Like

  6. Jim Borden November 21, 2021 / 7:05 am

    a wonderful tribute to a life well-lived. how lucky you have been to have Mrs. Wilson in your life for so long. and best of luck with your growing family!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jules November 21, 2021 / 7:27 am

    I think you have describe one of my elder relatives… the last of ‘that’ generation. Though they didn’t have any of their own children, so they traveled with and without their spouse (until…).
    Then they travel with friends – all the walls of the current appartment filled with travel paraphernalia. Living treasures your Mrs. Wilson and my relative.

    A wonderful memoir to keep her ‘alive’. (((Hugs)))

    Liked by 1 person

  8. D. Wallace Peach November 21, 2021 / 11:36 am

    Antartica awaits you, Chel. But it’s a ways off, most likely. Like Mrs. Wilson so clearly demonstrates, life can be lived fully all the way to The End. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 21, 2021 / 11:40 am

      Thank you, Diana. I’ll admit to impatience as I’m stuck in the muddy middle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach November 21, 2021 / 11:50 am

        Yeah. The muddy middle is muddy. But what a time in a woman’s life. And it too shall pass.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. CarolCooks2 November 22, 2021 / 12:31 am

    A beautiful tribute, Chel…One of my friends has 6 boys and all, their names begin with T…Fun for the tax man or anyone who addresses correspondence with an initial πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 22, 2021 / 12:53 am

      I’m definitely not the sort to do that. πŸ˜€ At one point, we realized we all had different first name initials but we’ve repeated two of them now.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Michael B. Fishman November 25, 2021 / 6:50 am

    I wouldn’t have imagined you as a troublemaker. This was a beautiful memoir/tribute. You’re fortunate to have Mrs. Wilson, and she you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chel Owens November 25, 2021 / 12:27 pm

      ❀ Thank you, Fishman. I should write about my rebel years; if only they would be completely finished, maybe I would.

      And I’m going to respond to your poem soon! I promise!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael B. Fishman November 26, 2021 / 4:13 am

        Here’s hoping your rebel years never finish! Not that they wouldn’t be interesting to read about, but because everyone needs to maintain some rebel spirit. And no rush on the poem.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. H.R.R. Gorman November 29, 2021 / 5:53 am

    A very sweet story. Don’t understand why anyone would like to go to Antartica.

    Liked by 1 person

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