My husband hit my shoulder. “It’s Jacob,” he shouted.
I reached over to my nightstand and felt around in the dark for my phone. One pair of reading glasses, another pair of glasses, a glass of water but no phone. My husband nudged me a second time. “Answer it!” he urged.
My son is in Uganda and his workday ends about three in the morning our time. He only called once after his first day working in a school with 50 three year olds. I don’t think he realized I was asleep during our call.
By the third nudge, I realized that my phone wasn’t ringing. Instead, a Pinterest notification was glowing and my husband was back to sleep. I was just awake enough to know that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the sound for some notifications but not Jacob’s at that time of the morning. As I closed my eyes and thought of my son 8700 miles away, I couldn’t help but think of the adults who’d invested in his life over the years.
A friend’s son is learning to drive and I almost said I’d help. I suggested classes instead. In the dark, I thought back to after one of my son’s driving lessons. After an hour with his instructors, we went out to dinner. He shared the things he’d learned about freeway driving and his plans for future driving. The wise words of his teacher will likely be in his head at every on ramp for the rest of his life. As he clings to the driver on the back of a motorcycle on the red dirt roads of Gulu, is he thinking about driver’s safety?
Another friend off to Italy soon with his son and my brother and his daughter are on a school history trip on the east coast now. I haven’t traveled out of the country with my son but I remember that I’d considered chaperoning a trip one of his teachers had gotten him excited about. His mythology teacher had inspired interest in a trip to Rome. It was the first time he’d talked about immersing himself in places other than Oregon.
My son can only call through Facebook or What’s App when he’s at a coffee shop about an hour’s walk from where he lives. I wonder if all coffee chops have music playing in the background. I thought about my son’s love of music and how his band teacher encouraged him to him play new instruments. I wonder what type of music he’s making in his new home so far away.
Amazing teachers have influenced my child in too many ways to count. Before drifting back to sleep, I thought about teachers in Oregon who’ve just had their first full week of summer break. For many, like my daughter, this means they are finishing their first full week of the OTHER job needed in order to make ends meet. I’m sure they are not thinking about the students they had years ago and what they are doing now. The influence of an amazing teacher extends far into the future. I’m so glad that in a state known for chronically underfunding education, that my children has such amazing influencers in their lives.