My past has caught up with me. It happened a few years back when a new friend moved into my digital neighborhood.
She knew me in my other life – before my career in television and newspaper life. And did this young woman have a long memory.
“Hello, Mrs. Luginbill,” said the Facebook query, one that immediately caught my eye since I’m Lucy to everyone nowadays.
“That’s how I remember you as a kid from Southgate Elementary,” Jennifer said about using the formal greeting. “I think I was in first or second grade.”
Suddenly, as if it were yesterday, I saw the little group of girls clustered around me. I was the “Duty” on playground, the official who kept order with a shrill whistle draped about my neck when I wasn’t assisting in the classroom.
It wasn’t a glamorous job, standing in the chill of the winter wind during recess, but it provided “pin money” to help with a few extras after our move from California. A warm coat for the Northwest weather had been a “must have” purchase when our finances were thin. And in those years, the east side of Washington state saw some of the coldest winters.
Jennifer, the little girl now grown up, remembered the brutal weather – and my coat, too.
“It was furry and just plain glamorous,” she wrote in her message. “The coat almost symbolized a happy life we might aspire to. We were like groupies, and you were our chosen movie star.”
Funny how different my perspective was back then. I saw little children wanting warmth and hugs – and needing their exercise, too. Eventually, I would shoo them away to play, knowing their pent-up energy could spill over into the classroom.
In spite of that, within a few minutes the “little chickadees” – Jennifer’s name for her long ago friends – would migrate back to my open arms for more snuggling.
“It is almost like as a kid you want to stand in someone’s light – especially if you look up to them,” her Facebook message read.
The words blurred as the past flowed into the present, tears finding their way down my cheeks.
How could I have ever imagined that what seemed like an ordinary job would hold special meaning for one child – a memory that had spanned several decades?
It was a lesson that I have held close even now: What we do today – no matter what our role may be – can unknowingly brighten another’s heart for a lifetime.