Sunday, March 10, 2013

My niece Sophia, Mrs. G’s cat and a city of watercolors


When I was 7 or 8 years old, around my niece Sophia’s age, and our family still lived in town, a tragedy occurred down the street from our house.  I was outside playing in the backyard when my mom called me inside.  She was just hanging up the phone, and had been crying.

She said “I just got some bad news… a little girl who lives down the street was run over by a truck.”  I stood there, unsure of what to say, wondering if it was Jackie or Heidi, two girls I went to school with who lived on our block. 

Before I could ask who, Mom said “It was one of the Conklin girls, Robin.”  I said she wasn’t in my class.  Mom just looked at me.  She said  “A little girl was just run over and that’s all you have to say?”  I said “maybe it’ll be in the paper tomorrow…”   Mom slapped me across the face.  If she was looking for tears, she got them.  (In my mom’s defense, this was the first & last time I was ever struck like that.  Poor Robin survived the accident, but was left paralyzed.)

I’m reminded of this sad incident because of some tragic news my sister Shawn received this weekend.  My niece’s second grade teacher, Mrs. Garofalo, died in her home on Friday after falling down some stairs.  She was 62 & nearing retirement, married with 3 children.  I know my niece was fond of her teacher (most second graders are) and my sister was afraid how to break the news to her.  I told Shawn that I was sure Sophia would handle it well enough.  Later, Shawn wrote that Sophia was fine, but sad because Mrs. G was supposed to bring her cat to school Monday and now they won’t get to see it.  Shawn says this threw her at first, and it worried her some, Sophia’s lack of grief.  And I was reminded of that incident many years ago with Mom & myself. 

I’m no professional, but I just don’t think kids have it in them at Sophia’s age to relate fully to these sad events, let alone know how to express what they’re feeling in a manner we adults think we should be seeing.  Their primary concern at this age is the immediate world around them, their family, their home, their pets.  Personally I’m relieved Sophia seems to be taking it in stride, of course the news is still so new.  All I know for sure is that Sophia’s one smart & caring person, and when it comes to hearts there’s none bigger than hers.

On a happier note, I sure am proud of this budding artist.  Her artwork was recently selected to be shown in an art exhibit showcasing interpretations of Pittsburgh (only 6 pieces were selected from 3 classrooms). 

(I’m particularly fond of this watercolor, my place of work is shown prominently here, complete with the UPMC logo.  I should show this to my boss’s boss or something…)

I hope her week ahead is a happy one, and the world stays as bright & colorful as she sees it here for a long time to come.

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