The older I get, the more I understand the importance of anticipation.
There was a period in my life, quite lengthy in fact, when I didn’t much enjoy the build up to an activity.
Sure, I’d wait, but I didn’t really understand or feel the sheer pleasure that can come from just thinking about something that will take place in days, weeks or months.
That’s changed for me for a number of reasons.
I’ve developed a deeper sense of life’s fragility and the preciousness of all that we are able to experience.
I’ve become more comfortable living in the moment, rather than continually looking past where I am to the next task.
I’ve also learned to appreciate each step of a process, rather than the end itself.
And I’ve gotten a firmer grasp on how hard it can be to bring something that you deeply desire into the world.
As a consequence of that understanding, I am particularly grateful for the book and website launch we’re going to have at Pierce School on Friday, November 16.
One major point of the event is to share the project I’ve done about learning from Paul Tamburello, my fourth grade teacher, mentor and friend, at three different points in my life.
The other purpose is to bring people together.
Thus far I’ve got family-Dunreith, Mom and Jon will be there-friends, and former teachers coming.
The latter group includes Marti Katz, nee Connolly.
My second and third grade teacher, she took me with her future husband Jerry Katz to one of my first Celtics game at the Boston Garden, a 128-98 thrashing of the New York Knicks.
I don’t remember this, but Mom told me years later that when I had been in her class when we walked by a group of construction workers laboring to build what would become the new Pierce School.
They voiced their approval of the young, slender, soft-spoken teacher. Loudly.
Apparently, I watched her response and told her, “If you act like that, you’ll always be Ms. Connolly.”
I’m not sure if this actually happened, but definitely know I’m glad she’ll be there.
So, too, will Mr. Wright, my United States History teacher from junior year.
He was a memorable presence, with a gentle manner, a shock of spiky white hair, and a coat and tie that often got covered with the chalk dust that sprayed from the board as he wrote his notes.
“What is the nature of the Union?” he would ask us about critical junctures in the nation’s history. “Are we a nation of laws, or of men?”
I have to admit that at the time I did not fully understand why he asked the question once, let alone repeatedly throughout the year.
Born on August 28, 1918, just months before World War I ended, Mr. Wright turned 45 the day Dr. King told the world about his dream and 90 the day Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.
We spoke the day before Obama’s historic victory.
I told him that I imagined he remembered Franklin Roosevelt’s victory 76 years earlier.
When I called the other day to invite him to the event, I told Mr. Wright, “I just turned 47. You’re 94. I’m finally half the man you are!”
Longtime friend Jon Bassett will pick up Mr. and Mrs. Wright and bring them to the event, then he’ll drive them home.
Judi Bohn will do the same with Rena Finder.
Rena and I met close to 20 years ago when she was waiting to talk on a local television show about being on Schindler’s List.
One of my favorite parts of working at Facing History was having the opportunity to drive people like Rena to and from schools, to be around and learn from people who had been part of such important moments in history and who had emerged with wisdom, dignity and grace.
In 2000, before I proposed to Dunreith, I told Rena and Mark, her husband and also a survivor, about my plan and asked their advice in choosing a ring.
“Go to Hannoush Jewelers and ask for Camile Hannoush,” Mark said. “Tell him Mark Finder sent you and told him to give you a good price.”
I followed Mark’s instructions.
Camile fashioned a ring with Dunreith that she wears to this day, and honored Mark’s directive.
Mark passed last year after a lengthy illness and Rena hasn’t driven much at night for years.
But she’ll be there on the 19th with Judi.
So, too, will former students from Pierce like Paul Canney and Jenna Redlener and former classmates like Susan Evans Manning.
Each will add their flavor to what I am sure will be a deeply joyous and memorable experience that I will savor in anticipation, at the moment and afterward.
We’ve got a bit more work to do before we straighten out the PDF and have the website exactly where we want to be.
We’ve got to buy the food and test the sound system Paul’s friend Christopher Huggins is bringing.
But, as I’m taking those final steps to sharing a creation I first talked about with Paul more than a dozen years ago, after having run the Boston Marathon in his honor, I’ll do my best to make sure to take some minutes to breathe, to imagine and to smile.
It won’t be long.