Monday, December 01, 2003

Then and Now

I’ve only known one person who died of AIDS. He was my sister’s 6th Grade teacher, a rare mixture of good disciplinarian, good educator, and likable person. One day he was out sick, and then another, and another. The students were told he was in the hospital but we weren’t told why until it was clear that he would not be able to return to teaching. When they told us they also told us that his insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of his medication. We were about to go into production for the Spring Musical, the musical he would have directed. The school wanted the permission of the students to donate the proceeds to our teacher for his treatment.

Looking back it seems kind of amazing that it wasn’t more complicated. It can be a risky thing to appeal to better angels of twelve and thirteen year olds. But it worked. This was 1991 when there weren’t as many medical options and we pretty much believed that if we didn’t help he would die right then and there. So we did it. We raised over $3,000 dollars through our production of the The Wiz. Opening night he was there. He’d lost his hair to chemotherapy by this time but he was up and around. We asked him to stand up at the very end and there were tears running down his cheeks.

He died in the fall of 1992

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