This one is hands down easy for me. My first grade teacher was Mrs. McGadney. I love, love, love her. She’s an amazing woman and so very brave. I didn’t even know it at the time, but she really was. It was the 1960s and I lived outside of Washington, D.C.- Yes, it was Northern Virginia and the schools were integrated but there were still prejudices and angst there over racial relations.
Mrs. Mac and I bonded the first day of school. I was super hyperactive and super intelligent. She knew how to handle a kid like me and she always found stuff to keep me busy. I’d taught myself to read before I started school, so she’d have me help the other students as they struggled to learn.
I learned to play the piano at her church and learned about the baptismal pool (we Methodists just sprinkle) and I can still smell that basement where the piano was. It was dank and dark and smelled of mildew but man, we had some good times there in that wood paneled room.
As time went on, several years later, she changed schools where she taught in one in the next county. They went on a year round schedule. When my school was out, I’d head over to hers and read to the younger kids and play with them on the playground.
I spent tons of time with Mrs. Mac and her husband. They couldn’t have children and they begged my parents to let them adopt me. These people loved and adored me. I went everywhere with them and it never once dawned on me that people were staring at us because they were African-American and I was a little white girl. I just loved them and they loved me back.
As an adult, I look back and realize some of those looks we attracted were looks of anger and animosity. I’m so grateful Mr and Mrs. Mac were brave enough to embrace the little kid I was and not let racial discord prevent them from making this little girl a part of their lives.
I regret that I lost contact with Mrs. Mac after high school. I still have contact with Mr. Mac but they got divorced and she remarried. I have no idea where she is, but she’ll always be in my heart. And I’m super grateful for my parents for raising me to not see color or race when I meet a person, but to see inside them to who they really are.