Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Influential Woman

Bree recently posted a book review of Andy Andrews "The Noticer." Andrews has done a couple of PBS specials and is an engaging speaker. According to Bree, the book is pretty good, too.

The premise of the book asks people everywhere to "notice" the five most influential people in their 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.
Mrs. Stone didn't come to Sexton High alone. She brought with her an adjunct crew -- Mr. Stone, her rock...
...and Mr. and Mrs. Kolloff (aka Penny and Fred).
Mr. Stone designed the lights and technical elements of the shows, Fred did the sets, Penny the make-up and we all worked as much on the complicated sets as we did on our parts.

For the next two years, this team was part of my extended family. Somehow -- and I don't know how they did it -- the foursome maintained the adult roles (we never once thought of them as peers and treated them with that respect) while being grand fun.

But they treated us with respect, too. They weren't just "teachers" of theatre. They taught us -- through example -- about life. They showed us how loving, young adults had a relationship. They weren't our parents; they were only a few years older than we were. But we saw (without the obvious -- and in that situation, inappropriate -- public display of affection) how they treated each other. Respectfully, kindly, with humor, never with derision or put downs.

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.

She attended Ohio State, became a well-known family physician in Columbus and served on the faculty of the Ohio State Medical School -- most recently as Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine/Predoctoral Director. She is a tireless speaker, teacher, advocate and proponent of training medical students to also be human beings in their patient relationships. She has received numerous awards; they are all deserved.

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.

Lin's passion for Christmas makes mine look rinky dink! And in Larry, she's found a grand cohort, who doesn't hesitate to hoist the 14-foot Christmas tree and help with the many others around the house!
She and Larry remain passionately in love, with a caring, gentleness, mutual respect, and affection we can all only envy. "Bobby" became Bob, a respected doctor himself, and now an equally wonderful husband and father.

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!

Who is influential in your life? Don't forget to visit Bree to check out what sounds like a fabulous book!


anno said...

Jeanie, there are so many gifts here: not just your wonderful friends and the rich friendships you've enjoyed, but also your great gift for writing wonderful stories about them. This was lovely. And now I think I need to take a look at that book...

jet1960 said...

This is a wonderful story! They sound like very special people indeed. What a blessing to have had them in your life.

Thanks for your kind words about Angel. She definitely has left an empty space.

BONNIE K said...

I loved this story.

beth said...

how sweet of you to write this...and the photos....ohhh, they are so wonderful...I love OLD photographs, but I know you already knew this about me !

Laura said...

That is one very great woman! What an inspiring story she has. Sounds like all of us would like her as our doctor!

Rosa said...

What a wonderful story! I wish I knew where some of my old teachers were. There were a few that I admired so much.


Anonymous said...

How do you do it? How do you manage to keep and then find, all these wonderful pictures? I so enjoy seeing them. From teacher to life-long friend...a lovely true story.

shoreacres said...

Like oh, I'm envious of the photographs. I just don't have any from that period of my life - at least partly because my junior high and high school years were accomplished and horrific all at the same time - I didn't want to keep any of it!

Since I've already written about my beloved professor, I'll have to think about who the other four influential people would be. What a fun exercise!

Linda said...

This is a wonderful story! I, too, wish I knew where some people were today. I guess we could google them! I will be contemplating this exercise....

Maryanne said...

If Lin's love of Christmas makes *yours* look "rinky dink," then it must be visible from space.

Jeanie, this was a joy to read, and the photos through the years just add to the sweetness.
You, obviously, are a Noticer
and archivist-!


Bree said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this wonderful tribute to a your friend. Wow. She sounds amazing and you are so lucky to have her in your life. I love how you've taken ahold of The Noticer Project and look forward to your next one.

Joanne Huffman said...

what a lovely tribute!


Bobbi said...

What a wonderful tribute post! You've had some truly wonderful people in your life. You have inspired me to "notice" influences in my on life - thanks!

Herzblatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Herzblatt said...

Hi Jeanie,
thank you for those wonderful memories and the lovely tribute.
You ask who is influential in my life.
First my own parents, who showed me exactly how I never should live.
Then I met my husband when I was 17 and he was the one, who influenced me radically....and the most in my life!! Then my son was born and I can`t say how much he influenced my whole life, my soul, my heart,I love him with every fiber of my being and it was the second real good thing I did(after marrying my husband).
At home I always was told by my parents, that I can`t anything and I was nothing...and when you hear it long enough you believe it. First my husband...later my wonderful son and my lovely daughter Nina gave me back my self-confidence and so they influenced everything in my life.
Another couple, who influenced me a lot were my parents in law.
They were absolutly the opposite of my parents, who were rich, self-employed and very egoistic.It all came down to the green!
My parents -in- law were like a wonder for me. My father-in-law lost his right leg in the war in Russia, their first daughter was a preterm birth and nearly 1956 they escaped with 3 children from the DDR to West-Germany and tried to begin a new life without any help, money and any chance for my father-in-law, to work again in his profession because of his lost leg. All his life he sometimes had terrible pain at his amputation stump because during the war it was done very unprofessional and he had to take sometimes morphium.
My parents-in-law, who always were very poor, had 4 children...their oldest daughter, who was nearly deaf, their first son Wolfgang, who died 4 weeks after his wedding in a car accident, (the wedding picture hadn`t been developed), my husband, who was 5 years younger than his brother, and as a latecomer a girl, who is 49 now, and became very ill in the age of 14. Since then she is blind on one eye and has a lot of serios diseases.
And now the completely unfathomable:
When I met my parents-in-law for the first time,their beloved son was dead for 3 years.
I never met people who were so cheerful...positive..warmhearted and satisfied like my parents-in-law.
So they influenced me and my life very much, because they taught me how to be happy even with so horrible experiences they had.
My mother-in-law became 75 and my father-in-law 80...unbelievable, in spite of all the disasters and their harm and distress, they had.
I am very happy to have met them!!

Judy Winter said...

How lovely! A true friend in every sense of the word.

Becca said...

I loved this story! My dear friend is a high school choral/drama teacher and I am in awe of the lives she's changed in much this same way.

Thanks for sharing this :)

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