The Old Fanatic Died Last Week.

AuthorSabiston, J.D.
PositionPoem

The Old Fanatic Died Last Wee i A quiet graveside ceremony marked the end of her seventy-four years in the community. A minister read from The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, quoted the twenty-third Psalm, and lowered his head in prayer. A friend glanced toward the heavens as the body was lowered into the ground. A former student wondered if her long nights were worth the ignoble end. A companion from the nursing home looked aimlessly at the ground. A family member dried her eyes as she glanced back a final time. A stranger stood silently as others walked away. A former colleague smiled as she thought of her energy, enthusiasm, empathy, and courage. ii An indifferent few in the common room commented on her final years. A fusspot demanded, "I want her room after it's emptied and cleaned. I should have had it all along." A cynic murmured, "Take everything as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad she's gone. She was too emotional: too open with her tears, too generous with her means, too forthright with her views, too passionate about her ideals, too tender with the young. But all of that was put-on. She never did anything for me." A housekeeper added, "She was really just a nutcase, someone who wanted to create other 'educated people'--fanatics--to ruin our community. I heard people talk about her, but I wasn't impressed. She didn't do anything but mess up the bed and floor. Stank like the custodian's breath." A frequent visitor commented, "She thought she was helping the powerless and promoting respect and justice. She tried to excite students but was just a bore." A new arrival wondered, "Is she the one who fought with the school administration? Didn't she have any commonsense?" A resident questioned, "She used to talk about what she taught and how she initiated students into reflection and imagination. Did she ever reflect on the fact that we thought she was an idiot?!" A grandmother injected, "We need more like her. I trusted her with my children and grandchildren. She was interested in them, not just earning a salary. She led them to think for themselves and care for others." iii A staffroom filled as educational colleagues shared a break and spoke of her final teaching years. A supervisor observed, "She didn't listen. Never would accept advice." A director claimed, "You couldn't force her to use the curriculum guides." An administrator exhaled, "She was one of the worst--insubordinate, subversive, untamable." An admirer countered, "She cared...

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