Monday, a True Story

I sat back in my chair yesterday and just cried. It was one of those days where I felt like a failure and the world was just rubbing my nose in it a little more with every minute. I’m so far behind at work that I’m actually starting to believe I won’t ever catch up. I’ve let myself go physically and am horribly out of shape. And what have I really done with my career? My life? It all seems like a blur –

I walk to the Garden Center just to get outside a little, under the guise of “collecting the mail.” As I sneak in the back way, I turn the corner to find a small wire basket beneath my mailbox, in which sits two quirky little faux potted plants and an unruly wad of papers that have been stuffed in the back. There’s an envelope crammed in there, too – with MY name on it –

“Dear Steve,

Thank you for giving my students the opportunity to be scientists. They couldn’t stop talking about the objects when we got back to school. You are a very special person dedicated to young people. It was a wonderful experience for all of them. Thank you for all that you do every day to broaden young minds.

Glenda Wilson
Special Ed Teacher
Parkwood Hill
Keller ISD”

Yeah, I remember that group. They were excited, maybe a little too excited, about the CSI lab. (That’s “Conservation Scientist Investigation” for those of you who flinched.) Good heavens, they acted like it was the coolest thing ever. They talked a lot, which I figured was just okay until I started listening to what they were saying. They were helping one another, encouraging one another. And yes, it got a little rowdy there for a few minutes, but nothing got broken and the kids seemed to be having such a good time. All in all, one of the best groups I had go through here –

I grab the unruly wad of papers to discover mostly thank you notes, with a few nice drawings of butterflies. Exactly 25 sheets of slightly crumpled paper – and it all comes rolling back to me –

The Inquisitive One:

“Dear Steve Chamblee,

Thank you for letting us go to your laboratory. It is cool when you did the elephant. I don’t know how you did that, but that was awesome. I wonder how long can a butterfly stay in the air while flying, and how can a butterfly breath in its chrysalis? How many different butterflies in the whole world are there?

by: Kari S.
Parkwood Hill”

The Enthusiast:

“Dear Steve Chamblee,

Thank you so much for letting us get to look through the microscope! It was amazing! I had a blast with my best friend ever. My favorite part about the botanical Garden was the butterflies. I thought trying to tell a butterfly from a moth was very cool! Thank you for letting us come.


Brittany D.”

The Future Teacher:

“Dear Steve,

Thank you for teaching us about butterflies, moths, and snake skins too. Thank yu for making the elephant sounds to us too. I am teaching a 6 year old how to do that. It is really easy. Also, thank you for giving us pencils. That was very nice of you. I appreciate that. I think you’re very sweet.

energy to talk
very nice
have you got bitten before
being a good person

From: Sahra W.”

I find the ending rather odd until I see my name spelled out against the left margin. So I sit back in my chair again, eyes all welled up, feeling like a goober that I seem to cry more than most big, hairy guys. I swear that somehow I can see the face of my departed mother off in the peripheral distance. She’s wearing that sideways smile that tells me I am indeed a goober for ever doubting the value of my life.

Thanks, Mom – again.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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