That Which Once Was

February 5, 2012
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Forever, or in my case, thirteen years
Mr. Farnsworth was my neighbor
He had no children until I was five
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t visit
‘Over the fence’
To pet his dog, or investigate his yard
He taught me that it’s okay to be curious.

One of my earliest memories was going to visit
My mother called me in for a nap and came to get me
I don’t remember what I said, but when before she carried me home
She talked to Mr. Farnsworth, and as she tucked me in
She brushed my hair back and said,
“You know, Mr. Farnsworth said you have a large vocabulary for your age.”
He taught me that, yes, I am special.

He was a teacher at the local middle school
And when I would complain about school
Mr. Farnsworth asked what I was having trouble with: and helped me learn
In gym, I couldn’t throw a football
So, we stood in his yard trying on that crisp fall day
Until I could throw a perfect spiral
He taught me that I can do anything with practice.
Eventually, he had three kids
Gavin, Grady, and Addie
And they meant the world to him
So, when their parent teacher conferences came around
Mr. Farnsworth asked me to watch them and I was honored
He was the first person to ask me to babysit his kids
He taught me that people trust me.

I had him as a teacher when I reached middle school
History class, his class, was always my favorite
That year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer
He was the first one to tell me he was there for me
And he was- every day
He would see my cry and ask if I was okay
He taught me that someone cared about me.

At the beginning of spring- or the end of an era
He was diagnosed. With cancer.
When I found out, I cried and cried.
People said it wasn’t that bad- that he would get better
But he was going to suffer
And I came to a new level of understanding
He taught me sorrow in its sincerest form


The last time I saw him was on the Fourth of July
Our two families set off fireworks
And he had a paper balloon that had a candle in it- we were supposed to make a wish
As its flickering light blue floated away against the star splattered sky
I wished with everything I had that he would get better
That was the last time I saw him alive
He taught me the power of a memory

At his funeral, so many people showed up
Those people had so many good memories
So many tears were shed
Shaky, tearful laughter was the sound track
As people recalled the good times
And what they had learned
The last thing he taught me was how much effect a life can have.





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