ME_BOYS_SANTA 2In June I wrote an essay about Miss Gluntz, who left our school at the end of the year I had her as my first-grade teacher to get married and start a family.

In it, I thank her for something extraordinary she did four years later during a visit to our school. I also apologize because I acted like a dork at the time.

Well, this past Monday, I received an email from a family member of Miss Gluntz’s, who’d found and read my essay, shared it with Miss Gluntz, and took the time to let me know that she is alive and well and would love to hear from me. I was at a loud Christmas party with some friends and John when the message came through. I cried and cried.

“She OK?” asked one friend.

John asked what was going on and I told him.

“She’s fine,” he said, smiling and patting my knee.

The family member and I have since exchanged more emails, and the upshot is that I plan to write to Miss Gluntz after Christmas and tell her just how much she means to me.

It reminds me that I need to do the same with Mrs. Peterson, who told me in high school, “You should be a writer.” At the time, I scoffed at the idea.

It also reminds me that I need to send a card to the wife of Louis T. Milic, a brilliant Columbia-bred scholar of eighteenth-century British literature and my mentor in college, who, like Miss Gluntz and Mrs. Peterson, saw something in me that I never saw in myself and still don’t know if I see.

In 2004, when I was applying to graduate school at Marquette University, I did a computer search for Dr. Milic. I wanted first to reconnect, because it had been a few years, and second, see if he might be willing to write me a letter of recommendation.

I found him right away. His obituary. He had passed away just months earlier. The anniversary of his death is New Year’s Eve. Since I did not get a chance to tell him how much he meant to me, I have always wanted to write to his wife and tell her.

These teachers of ours.



The family member of Miss Gluntz’s who contacted me on Monday is the wife of her nephew. The universe works in beautiful ways sometimes and I kid you not: as I was publishing this post, a comment from Miss Gluntz’s daughter arrived in my inbox.