I wonder if there is such a thing as deja vu in reverse. Déjà vu is the eerie feeling that you’ve been in a certain place or experienced something before, that a moment in time is caught in a time loop. Déjà vu in reverse would be when you’ve experienced something before but suddenly the roles are reversed. It’s the feeling expressed by an adult women who was driving her elderly mother to the doctor. She had to hit the brakes suddenly and instinctively threw her arm out over her mother just like she would a small child. It hit her that that was the same motion her mother made for her years ago.
I experienced this role reversal this month. My great aunt and uncle, now in their eighties, came to visit us for my daughter’s graduation. It was such a thrill to have these precious people in my home, people who meant the world to me when I was growing up. Both are suffering from age related illnesses. My uncle has lost most of his vision due to macular degeneration and my aunt has never fully recovered from shoulder surgery.
As I led them from the car to the house, I suddenly realized my uncle would have difficulty navigating the unfamiliar steps. Instinctively, I took his hand, asking casually, “There’s some steps coming up. Think you might need some help over them?” With his typical humor, he replied, “I don’t think so, but it’s sure nice to hold your hand!”
That déjà vu moment hit. So many times, when I was a teen, Uncle Eldon would offer me a hand, an arm, a gentle guiding over a step. He never made a big deal over it,; instead, just stayed close by, anticipating potential hazards and “being there” if I needed him. Now it was my turn to guide him. Now it was my turn to offer a hand to the man who had given me so much.
For ten days, I hovered close to be a sighted guide, to find a missing cap, to remind him to get his cane, to warn him of a coming step. Helping him, offering him aid with dignity never became a chore. It was my time to give. I was deeply moved by the privilege.
I thought of my teaching. How many times I approach my teaching with resentment or boredom, as one more week that I have to go teach those kids. Yet I think of the many teachers who gave up their time, their energy and their level of patience to put up with me, I have received so much from so many wonderful teachers. The best way I can honor them is to turn and pass on the blessing, to give to other children what was so frelly given to me.
If you are feeling discouraged this week about your teaching, think of a teacher who gave to you, who treated you with respect, who offered you a hand up the knowledge and confidence ladder. Think of a way you can pass on the blessing to someone else. Give as you have been given.
It’s your time to give.