January 17, 2021

Lucile Anderson and Harriett Eaves
Myrtle Beach,1976


She was my favorite high school teacher—Mrs. Anderson.  In her late 50’s, she had a lovely face and a gentle voice (which could be very firm when she was keeping unruly students in line).  She always wore tailored and simple clothes, and kept her dark graying hair pulled back into a neat chignon.

She greatly expanded my lifelong love of literature.  She opened the door to Shakespeare, as she sat on a tall stool at the front of the room and read Macbeth to us.  The “thees” and “thous” and strange sounding words came alive as she read. She had us memorize poetry—Robert Burns, Tennyson, and William Blake—and poetry continues to be my favorite language.  

She also loved the Bible and as my homeroom teacher that year, she began each day reading us a Psalm or a few other verses and offering a brief prayer of blessing for our day. We all knew God was the center of her life.

Mrs. Anderson was also somewhat mysterious.  We knew she was divorced and had one daughter Joyce who was married with children—but no one had any idea about her marriage. She rented a small home on Eastanallee Avenue and always walked to and from school.  She never drove or owned a car. But occasionally she would tell us brief stories about her youth in Sweetwater—riding horses, swimming in the creeks, and venturing with friends into the Craighead Caverns where there was a secret underground lake.  Decades later this site became a popular tourist destination known as The Lost Sea.

Fast forward twenty plus years.  I was living in Columbia, South Carolina, recently divorced with two young children.  On a quick weekend visit to Athens, Mother mentioned that Mrs. Anderson was now staying in Columbia, South Carolina, with her younger sister’s family. So I called the Reynolds home and asked to speak to Mrs. Anderson.  She was delighted to hear from me and said, “Call me Lucy!”

Her sister was incapacitated following a stroke and Lucy agreed to close up her home and care for her.  She cooked and cleaned for the family for several years, helped her sister with her daily activities, and rarely had time to herself. Lucy and the Reynolds welcomed Heather, Patrick and me to their home and took us to their lake house for fish fries. 

Lucy also enjoyed getting to know my mother better during that time when she visited us in Columbia.  It was a joy to take the two of them with us for short trips to Myrtle Beach or the Charleston. Lucy needed a break from the pressures of caregiving and we would take her out to eat at Lizard’s Thicket or cook for her at our place.

One spring I was going to Williamsburg for a work conference and planning to drive.  Lucy commented that she’d never been there—so I invited her to come along.  It was a wonderful springtime trip driving through the Carolinas and Virginia as we shared memories and stories. She relaxed in our lodge room while I went to meetings and then we toured the historic sites together.  At the Visitors Center one afternoon she spotted a man across the room that she said looked familiar. She went up to him and within a few minutes realized he was a former student.  She rarely went anywhere she didn’t make a connection with someone who had been in one of her classes.  I’m so thankful I was able to reconnect with her for those years in South Carolina.  I love Lucy!

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