Tribute to Miss Ross

Miss Ross died December 31, 2001.

But she had really *lived* her life, made her own and others' lives immensely rich with savoured experiences and lots of love and laughter.

She was my sister's teacher. Ginny says she felt loved by Miss Ross.

She stayed at Sakeji for 29 years, loving many more children and remembering them the rest of her life.

Although she came to Sakeji while I was there, she was never my teacher. At the time, I felt no loss - she taught little kids and I was a big kid.

I know her better from meeting her again in the last 13 years of her life when she lived near Toronto. My sister and I would get together with her occasionally and she would tell stories of her early teaching experiences or of Sakeji. She had a remarkable memory and was a great story teller. If we mentioned a name, she would launch into stories about that person as a child and go on to tell what they were doing now. Or, if she didn't know, she would wonder. She always wanted to know about us and our present lives.

Every time we met her, she was eager for news, eager to have a good time, eager to laugh, to live the moment to the fullest. Her joy, her genuine, unconditional acceptance of those around her made it easy to be with her.

At her memorial service on January 5, 2002, the tributes to her were amazing. There were tributes from the rest home where she lived after she retired, tributes from former students and the parents of former students, tributes from friends and family.

Everyone spoke of her love - for people young and old, for animals, for life, for laughter and fun.

Her life was not one of ease. She was raised by grandparents. What happened to her parents? What pain did she carry on this score? Had she come to terms with this trauma in her life in a way that made her especially effective in loving children who were separated from their parents at Sakeji?

She had physical difficulties as well. My sister remembers her laughing so hard her teeth fell out, and that just made her laugh harder. She had a glass eye. She lost the sight in this eye and the hearing in one ear as a young girl. In her last years she suffered from pain in her legs. These disabilities never came across as burdens. Her joy and sense of fun, her laughter and her love were what shone through so vividly.

She never married and spent 29 years teaching in an isolated location in Zambia. But in spite of her struggles and restricted environment, she was able to live life to the fullest. I can hardly believe how happy and gracious and full of love and life she was. I'd like to be more like her.

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Copyright© 2002, 2003 Martha Greenhow
Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

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