The web site is ready.
The book for the sample copies are at the printers.
Dunreith and I have boarded the airplane taking us from Chicago to Boston.
In a word (or two), it’s on.
Tomorrow evening a delicious circle of family, former teachers and students, childhood and adult friends will gather at the auditorium in Brookline’s Pierce School.
The purpose will be to celebrate the launch of the web site and book On My Teacher’s Shoulders: Lessons Learned Along The Way.
The project tells the story of my learning from fourth grade teacher Paul Tamburello at three distinct points in my life.
The first time was in 1974 as a fourth grade student. I had seen Paul play the role of Captain Hook in a class performance of Peter Pan and decided that I wanted him as a teacher. I told my mother, she advocated for me, and my desire became real.
The second time came a dozen years later, and involved my working for more than two years as an apprentice teacher in his classroom, the same room where I had been a student.
And the third source of learning began in 1993, when Paul learned that he had Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a non-fatal version of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Rather than allow himself to sink into an understandable funk, Paul used his comparative good fortune at not having received a death sentence to ride from Plymouth to Provincetown in what he called the Positive Spin for ALS fundraisers.
The lessons he taught and that I absorbed changed at each period. I learned later that Paul grappled with his own insecurities at each stage.
But what has never changed is his unwavering witness and steadfast belief that I could grow and become someone who I did not yet have the capacity to imagine.
He also over time taught me that choosing someone to be a mentor and a teacher and telling them the impact they have had is a gift, too.
In fact, one of the greatest gifts Paul has given me is stepping aside, not only to let me grow into myself and receive my acknowledgment of his impact, but to be instructed by me, too.
Our relationship has evolved to teacher to mentor to friend to fellow traveler on the road of life.
Tomorrow evening our circle will gather, and we will celebrate the wonderful good fortune of having known and given to each other in many different ways over the past four decades.
Paul has written a gorgeous preview of the evening, which promises to be drenched in meaning.
It will be the end of a very full day, and I intend to savor every moment of it.
As such, I will be heeding the counsel of Marty Kelly, my late father-in-law.
In July 2001, I was reclining for a minute on the living couch in our apartment shortly before driving to Look Park for the second of our three wedding ceremonies.
Looking natty as always, Marty sported the same navy blue blazer and Save The Children tie that our four brothers and best men wore.
He looked at me on the couch and said, “Enjoy it, Jeff, because tomorrow it’ll all be over.”
I intend to do just that.
Anyone who wants to come is welcome.