I went to college as an adult. I'd say young adult now as I was 27 at the time, but a full blown married adult is what I felt I was. It took me nine years of night school during which I worked full time, I gave birth to two beautiful boys, divorced, lived on my own for the first time (not counting the two baby boys!), bought my first condo by myself, and in the last year of school met the man of my dreams and his two young daughters who would become my family.
He was Ben to his students. My first class with Ben was Accounting 101. I waddled into his class five months pregnant to find this mid-aged** man dressed with an odd hat standing in front of what appeared to be a grade-school child's lemon-aid stand. I remembered looking back at the door to check the room number to see if I was in the right class. I was. I'm not sure which one of us looked funnier as I remember that day.
What I didn't know that day was just how much I would grow over the next nine years both as a person and a student and how much Ben and his quite sense of humor would influence me.
Ben went on that day to walk us through basic accounting using the monetary platform of the lemon-aid stand. It stuck and I fell in love with accounting. Ben would go on to teach a dozen or so of my classes over the next nine years.
My most memorable moment in class was when Ben was handing back the mid-term project of my first computer accounting software class. The project was to account start-to-finish for one year of a tee-shirt company I believe. He pulled me aside and said I did a wonderful job on my mid-term. He went on to say that given the professional hard report cover and the labeled sections, along with the table of contents he was sure that I could charge any client an extra $50 for this, HOWEVER, if I ever handed him in another project like this he would flunk me! He said he now knew how good I was at putting together this type of project and I was now to find BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH MY TIME! I laugh as I look back because this was about half way through my course of studies and by this time I had Ben for an instructor for four or five courses and he knew me and my newly divorced situation well enough to know where I was 'hiding' from my real life and this was his way of telling to me get back into living my life.
Ben taught me many things but mostly he taught me to believe in myself. As we would prepare for a test he would always tell us 'you have studied hard', 'you are ready for this test', and most of all 'remember - it's all in there!' Now we just needed to take a deep breath and remember 'it's all in there'. Just quite everything else down, concentrate , and the material will get to the top of the pile. And he was right, it always did.
I graduated in 1997 with my BS in Accounting. Ben was at my graduation as were many of my other instructors but it felt every bit like Ben was there just for me.
Sadly Ben passed away last month. I always meant to sit down and write him a letter thanking him for the confidence his belief in me gave to me. Ben was a wonderful man and everyone who's life he touched was better for having known him. I mourn my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. But I know Ben, he would be telling me I am once again wasting my time that could be better spent.
You are the best Ben and I will carry you and the wisdom and confidence you gave to me, with me, for all of my days.
**I say mid-aged man with a bit of a chuckle for as I read Ben's obituary I realized that he was on that first day of class the exact age that I am today! Funny, he always seemed like such a grown up, so sure of himself. Wonder when I am going to feel that way?
Is there someone in your life that you've been meaning to call or write a note,
maybe someone you want to say 'thank you' to?
Make today that day!