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Goodbye Mf


Gryffenne
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I know this forum is meant for beloved pets, but I needed somewhere to say this. It’s my own goodbye to a dear friend. Mostly ramblings and memories. I know she wasn’t a loved pet, but she was a loved teacher, mentor, and friend.

 

Today I said goodbye to “That Teacher”. We all have one, you know the teacher I mean. The one that changed your life, you never forgot. You loved them like a parent, or for some, even more. Their impact was that great.

 

To most students in the school system, she was Mrs. Ford. To her friends, and fellow teachers, she was Connie. To Her Kids, her P.A. students, she was M.F., or Mom. She taught primarily Drama (Performing Arts, or PA) ~ Forensics, Theatre, and Debate. Throughout the years she would pick up other subjects to teach: English, Geography, etc… when the school needed a teacher for those subjects, but the Theatre was her heart, her life.

 

I was shy growing up. Everyone laughs when I tell them that. But I was! I am talking, borderline social anxiety SHY. And then my freshman year in HS I met the infamous, or maybe notorious, Mrs. Connie Ford. I was a Novice, a.k.a. First Year PA Student. I was scared to death, like most Novices, of this 5’2’ red head standing in front of the class letting us in on exactly what we were going to be doing this year. Anyone that entered PA thinking that this was an easy A type class was sorely mistaken. Anyone that thought they could sit back in the shadows unnoticed, was really mistaken. Debate was in the Fall, then Pentathalon, or as we called it simply- Pentath, the first weekend in December. Then Drama Competiton, and finally Forensics (also called Individual Events, orIE), in the spring. And that was just the competitive side of PA. We also had the Fall Show, the Spring show, which was the full length version of our 45 minute competitive Drama show, and finally Dinner Theatre a few weeks before school ended that everyone was involved in, but was primarily a Graduation of sorts for her Seniors.

 

When I was going to school, we didn’t have an auditorium. We made our stage in the HS gymnasium. It’s amazing any of us still have our fingerprints after 4 years of laying the floor down, putting the lights up and all the Duct Tape that was used! But we did it :) That first year, MF thought, because I talked so fast naturally, that I would be a prime candidate for Debate. Ha! Wrong. After my first tournament when I told a judge I wasn’t finished yet, after he called Time on me, we decided that Debate wasn’t for me. For the shows that year, including the Drama Comp, I was on stage, but no speaking parts, that was the closest to the background she allowed me to be. For IE, I got away with being in Duo Comp, 2 people performing a dramatic piece without the use of Props. That was the case for all of IE. No costumes, and No props beyond chairs/stools and street clothing.

 

My sophmore year, I got to have a taste of doing lighting for the drama comp. That year we did Oh Freedom! A show about the civil war that she wrote herself. Many memories are from this year. Most people tell you that if they could relive any year of school, it would be their Senior year. Mine is my sophmore year. I have a VHS tape of our Full Length show, that is so worn out I am afraid to watch it anymore. I am saving the last viewing for when I can put it onto a DVD, but I don’t know anyone that can do that, so it stays on my shelf next to my photo albums that every senior is given by MF at our PA Senior Dinner. She did that every year for every Senior in PA. She would collect all the photos, clippings, certificates and awards you accumulated over the years and put them into albums for you. And then she would make dinner, at her house for her Seniors.

 

For those that have never done Dramatic Competition at the HS level, you take a Full Length Show and cut it down to 45 minutes. So you have 45 minutes to still cram in the gist of the piece, and this includes set and costume changes. There are 3 judges. Each with a stopwatch. At the end, they took your average time from the 3 watches. Every second that you are over 45 minutes, each judge docks you. I remember at Districts for Oh Freedom!, that we were still running slightly over and the pianist & the lighting techs each had a stopwatch to keep an eye on the time. At a certain time, if we were falling behind, the pianist was supposed to, during a scene change, cut to a different song indicating we were going to cut out the next scene. If, towards the end we were still behind, I was to cut out the spotlight on a monologue, when the speaker paused, indicating to start the finale. Well, sure enough, the pianist had to cut a scene. A few scenes after, my spotlight was supposed to pick out a soloist out of a completely darkened stage. The way I did this, was I would look down the top of my spotlight like I was looking down the sights of a large gun. I leaned in too close to the spotlight and melted the stopwatch hanging around my neck!! So just in case, I cut mine later in the show. Our average time? 44m59s.

 

It was also, with Oh Freedom!, that I started to understand acting. We had a judge that had issues with the fact that our slaves in the show were actually almost all Caucasian, save 2, wearing make up and using correct dialect for the time period to appear African. They didn’t know this until after the show, where you go into a room with the judges for your critiques and they saw them without their make up. Oh she had a fit! MF stood nose to nose with that judge and let her have it. “We are a small, white, Northern Michigan school, a show with 2 slaves is NOT going to cut it. The fact YOU didn’t know that they were really white should tell you JUST how good of actors they are! And instead of applauding them, you are trying to disqualify them.. Lady, you need to go back to school and learn what acting really is!”

 

We won that tournament and went on to the State Level Competition.

 

My Junior year I was able to compete in Pentath. (It’s only open to Jr. and Sr. year students and she takes 12 students out of her PA class of over 50) Pentath is a 5 event competition. Dramatic Interpretation, Prose, Poetry, Storytelling and then a 5th one that changes every year. OMG I was scared to death. This was to be the first time I would be up in front of the crowd, alone. My first event was Prose. I had picked a piece from Gaston L’s Phantom of the Opera. The part where Erik is talking to the Daroga at the end and he’s dying. Well, one part he’s supposed to go into a coughing fit and collapse. I was shaking SO badly that my knees really did give out on me LMAO. I got a 1/100, top score for that round. Why? Believability. Haha! At dinner that evening, it was discovered that it was also my birthday. We were at Bennigan’s. at one point I suspected that something was up, maybe it was all the waitstaff gathering at the back of the restaurant, maybe it was the fact when I tried to bolt for the bathroom that her hand clamped down on my shoulder, pinning me to the chair, I don’t know… LOL. I also remember that night, we were all relaxing and watching movies in one of the hotel rooms and decided at 2 in the morning that we were going to sneak down to the 24 hour pool. Oh we thought we were so sneaky… until we got down there and as we were all surfacing from a mass cannonball into the pool to a very low laugh. There was MF sitting in a lounge chair. So much for sneaky. :ph34r

 

My Senior Year was a blur. I started doing judging for IE tournaments, but being that you had to be out 4 years to be a District, Regional or State judge, I only was judging the smaller qualifying tourneys. I remember coming out of the lighting booth to be on stage, but still being her Sr Light Tech in charge of the crew up there. I remember the impending ice storm on the Friday before a competition and all us kids that lived in the country staying in town so that we would be close to the school, ready to roll at 3am if the storm cleared. I, and many others, crashed at her house. I remember our goodbye at Dinenr Theatre. The Sr’s write their own skit for the goodbye and then after our skit, she brings us all out on stage to give us the trophies that we each earned over the years. When I came out I was bawling LOL and after she hugged me she turned to the crowd and said, “Well Colleen’s crying enough for everyone!” LOL That night we had our Sr Dinner, her infamous speghetti YUM! And our SR cast party and everyone crashing there. I remember all the cast parties, but that one stood out because it was just us Sr’s and MF.

 

In the years following Graduation, I remained a judge for IE. I got certified to judge the D, R and State level. I even got to judge one technically before my 4 years out was up. She was hosting the Districts and needed a judge. She got on the phone with MIFA and got it cleared, since I wasn’t living in the area anymore and that it would be clear I would judge NO Seniors (Who were freshmen my senior year) I remained a judge for many years until my son was born, and I suddenly was going through a divorce and entering the world of single motherhood. But I usually stopped in to see MF when I was home visiting.

 

I remember almost 10 years after I graduated, a new High School was built. With an auditorium. I almost cried when I walked in there and saw that she finally got Her Theatre! OMG I was so happy for MF. And then I realized these students won’t have the same memories of Duct Taping a floor down at 3am before shows. None of them will hold the same memory as I of running up the bleachers to our “lighting booth” and cracking my head against a support arch, and then falling back down those same bleachers and landing at MF’s feet in a daze.

 

Today, I said goodbye to a teacher, a friend. And every day I say Thank You, MF. I am no longer Shy.

 

You were loved, and you will be missed, by former students who love you as I do, and by those that never got the chance to know you and who never will have that chance to say, “I was shy until I met MF.”

 

 

 

 

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What a touching tribute to your teacher and mentor. :bighug

Jeanne with Remington & Scooter the cat
....and Beloved Bridge Angels Sandee, Shari, Wells, Derby, Phoenix, Jerry Lee and Finnian.....
If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven
and bring you home again.

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You're right, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Hooper...she taught me about Vincent Van Gogh. My older sister had her, and so I couldn't wait for high school & art class.

I'm sorry your MF passed away.

I posted here when my dad passed away, I think its okay.

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Such a beautiful tribute.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Guest bowiebears

A very touching and loving tribute.

 

Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us.

 

I often think of my first Latin teacher...I'm sure he's dead now.

I became a Latin teacher myself for 10 years, and loved ALMOST every minute of it....all because of him and his love for a language and for his students.

 

Your tribute surely needs to be seen by so many people...especially teachers!

 

Many blessing on her...and on you for thinking of her and sharing her influence on you with us.

 

One day we will all be reunited again....and meet new family and friends!

 

--Isaac

 

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As someone who majored in Theatre in college, your memorial to MF is especially poignant . . . . thank you for sharing her with us all . . . . what a legacy she left!

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Patsy and DH with the Humane Society specials, Linus & Jazz, in North Dakota

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I'm so sorry for the loss of your mentor... I had 2 teachers in grade school who really influenced my life & was never able to find them after high school, once they'd both moved on...

 

I hope all teachers read your tribute! They need to know how wonderfully they can influence lives & perhaps never even know it!

 

:bighug

Jeannine with Merlin, the crazed tabby cat and his sister, Jasmine, the brat-cat

With GTsiggieFromJenn.jpgAngel Cody(Roving Gemini), and Weenie the tortie waiting at the Bridge

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Definitely pass your beautiful tribute on to the school or family of your mentor. We lost a beloved teacher last spring and one of her students from many years ago read about it. He sent a lovely tribute in her memory and talked about how she had changed his life and been a role model for him. It meant a great deal to the school and her family and became a symbol of the way a dedicated teacher can mold a young life.

 

My sympathy to you at the passing of such a dear friend.

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Hobbes - April 2, 1994 to April 9, 2008-----Tasha - May 23, 2000 to March 31, 2013

Fiona - Aug 29, 2001 to May 5, 2014-----Bailey - March 22, 2001 to Jan 20, 2015

Zeke - June 1, 2004 - Jan 26, 2016----Callie - July 14, 2006 to July 27, 2019

Forever in my heart: Chooch, Molly, Dylan & Lucy

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Guest HipToBeDog

What you wrote for your friend was truly beautiful. We do all have one special teacher and knowing what an influence she had on your life is definitely something that should be shared. My parents are both teachers and I only hope someone writes something one day as touching as what you wrote here. I'm sure you made her proud.

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Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts and hugs. She was a very special teacher. At her memorial the first speaker got up and started out, "I used ot be shy...." and never finished because everyone broke out into tearful laughter and applause. For those of us that were honored to have had her in our life, that is a very common phrase.

 

I don't know if the local papers would run my thoughts, but I am heavily considering trying to contact MIFA to see if they would post it. She was heavily involved with MIFA and the letter her friend there sent to be read at her memorial was so touching that it makes mine look like doodles on a napkin. I was hoping his letter would be posted on there somewhere because his needs to bee seen as well. I am also going to send a copy to the school newsletter.

 

I was looking through my photo albums and started crying again for the hundredth time when i read her letter in it. She writes one personally for every Senior in PA. As I sat there looking through them, I noticed the last one had a blank page at the very end. I never noticed that page before. I wonder if every senior's collection had one empty page. Iam going to print out 2 copies of what i posted. One I am going to put one on that last page along with her obit and the card from her Celebration of Life memorial service. The second copy I am going to send to her daughter to have.

 

Thank youa gain for reading, and the thoughts and hugs. I was doing okay from the 19th until 11/3. Then i started crying and havent quite been able to stop. :cry1

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