The premise of the book asks people everywhere to "notice" the five most influential people in their lives...as private or as public as participants choose." Bree asked readers to join her in noticing those who have made a difference in her life. Here is the first of several people I'll highlight over the coming months who have been influential in my life.
When I was 16, a junior in high school, we had a new drama teacher come to our high school. She was tall, very thin, wore her hair pulled up on her head and glasses. Her name was Mrs. Stone and she was a reasonably new teacher, only a few years out of college.
That fall she held auditions for the class play, "Diary of Anne Frank." I was fortunate enough to be cast as Mrs. Van Daan, the frowsy, brassy mother of Anne's love, Peter. The experience was a powerful one for all of us in the cast, with strong friendships formed.
For many of us, it was our first experience at seeing a healthy man-woman relationship with someone not all that much older than we were; certainly not like our old parents!
Somehow, in our inner city high school, Mrs. Stone never lost control of her classroom or her drama productions. And they were good. They were darned good.
And I was fortunate to see them off-school, too -- as babysitter for their only son, Bobby.
Over the two years I was at Sexton, I had lead roles in several programs and worked crew on others. We all spent a lot of time together.
Well, Mrs. Stone went to MSU's theatre department, and so did I. And after I graduated from high school, our roles shifted from student to friend. They became Lin and Larry, wonderful friends of my family. Lin was the big sister I never had. The year I graduated, they moved to Ohio and after getting a masters in English, Lin decided to take another role -- physician.
And despite a grueling schedule that would destroy most people, she has maintained relationships in a way I can only envy -- always there to answer a question (we asked more than a few before Greg's cancer surgery, and I've had a few of my own), never forgetting a birthday, and always generously eager for a visitor to Michigan (especially one who likes to go shopping at Morgan House, a wonderful gift shop with a lovely restaurant attached!)
Her favorite role may be as grandma to Bob and Jennifer's two children.
In instilling and encouraging my passion in theatre; in showing me how healthy adult relationships should be; in always having time for friends; for being upbeat and positive even when life brings bad news, and for knowing how to really do the holidays, Linda Stone inspires me more than I can say.
Influential? You bet!
Linda Stone is retiring in June. Time for the two little munchkins...
And more time to spend with Larry. It's Ohio State's loss. But oh, what a legacy!