by Roger Iverson

Mother, God rest her soul, was a bald faced liar. If she stubbed her toe she could also scream a chain of foul words blue enough to shame a sailor, but that’s not part of this story.

Mother was a liar and that’s where this story begins, when I was small. I can still see her face, thin for a Dane, framed in a blond halo of hair, over me, her fingers lightly tickling me, saying, and these were her exact words, she told me: “God made the apple trees blossom the day you were born. You are a special little boy, my special little boy.” She told me wonderful things would happen to me and I had better be prepared for miracles. She said I was destined.

And I believed Her!

So when the poor grades started coming home, in September of first grade, she said, “Don’t worry. God works wonders!” And when it was obvious I wasn’t reading, Mother said, “Be patient, Special One.” And when I couldn’t calculate or spell or write or stay in the lines, I remember she soothed, “It will come. God made the apple trees blossom the day you were born.” And I believed her.

But many apple crops ripened and rotted. Mother’s language became lies. School was a nightmare of embarrassment. Many times, alone and unable to rise to Her stories, I wanted to throw it all away, to quit, stop. My lowest was Special Ed. class, waiting for the middle school halls to clear so I could slip into the gray room to endure the gray teacher. The Heavens didn’t open and The BASSO PROFUNDO didn’t sing to my soul. I hated school. I hated me.

It wasn’t until high school when I first found success. This lead to that and those begat more until I graduated from there and graduated from here and graduated three times more.

While I grew, Mother began to teach. She invited me into her Special Ed. classroom. I wasn’t met with the gloomy, drooly faces I knew but by bright, inquisitive little humans, each one an expert in some small flake of learning, each one a star in Mother’s constellation. She coaxed me and coached me and sent me to more rooms and schools until I relinquished my visions of failure. And only I knew why Mother chose the Special class to teach.

Today, I bring my decade of disillusions into my own elementary class. When I see a small soul about to dissolve, I kneel down, eye to eye and whisper, “I have a secret: I knew a boy who was sadder than sad. And guess who that boy is today!” We two become a team, intent upon success. I protect my Dear Darling Ones from the failure I endured. That is my miracle I see a hundred times a day.

Mother has been gone these many years but I still see her face, thin for a Dane, framed in a blond halo of hair. She calls to me: “Son, you are special to Jonté and Samath and Uqnitaqua and Samnang and all the rest of your little ducklings in your little corner classroom.” Mother tells me I am exactly where I am supposed to be, making their fractured lives whole, working my service to the Lord. I see her smile knowingly as if to say, “See the wonders? Didn’t I tell you?”

…And I believe her.