Post written by Suraj Shah.
If you heard that a teacher you admire has just died, how would you react?
When I was studying for my GCSEs, I was struggling with physics. Fortunately, mum had hired a private tutor to help me align with the subject better.
Mr Wynston, an admired physics tutor
Mr Wynston would come to our home every single Tuesday evening and would help me to understand the past week’s topic. He would only charge for an hour, but would leave only after he was positive that I clearly understood the topic that we had planned to work on that week.
Every week, the wide-built Mr Wynston would arrive in his tiny Nissan Micra, and would pop a mint into his mouth as soon as he stepped in the front door. During our sessions he would always write with a pencil and would press so hard that he almost engraved the dining table with physics formulae! I thought that was just his style, but it turns out that he was probably struggling to write. I really admired Mr Wynston for the way he taught and the care he took with me. He was firm, but kind.
Getting the news
Close to the date of my exams, mum got a call from Mrs Wynston. Now Mr Wynston’s wife would never normally call us. Once mum got off the phone, she shared the news with me that Mr Wynston had been battling with cancer for a long time, although we didn’t know it, and he had passed away.
As soon as mum told me this, a smile shot across my face, compounded with a deep feeling of guilt (for smiling) and confusion about how to react to the news. I felt sad and frustrated at not knowing what I felt about it, and my inappropriate expression. Even mum looked shocked at the way I was reacting to it.
This was probably one of my earliest memories of learning about someone I knew personally being alive one moment and dead the next.
I recall there have been other times when I have received sad news in my life. Not knowing how to react, I have expressed an inappropriate smile. Has that ever happened to you?
Death becomes easier to deal with
As we grow up, death seems to be easier to react to. We hear about it more. We expect it more. We know that where there is birth and life, death is certainly inevitable. Somehow that makes it easier to deal with.
(Photo courtesy of kpwerker)