Friday, June 04, 2004

Things I've seen

Update: Bane, I should send you every copy before I post it. Of course, I wouldn't be able to pay you.



t is no secret that I'm pretty much an old geezer here on Xanga... "Seriously, what am I doing here?" as Onigiriman says on top... To put things in perspective, I thought I'd tell you about some of the things I've seen over the years, and how they affected me.

In the Fall of 1962, I was a six-going-on-seven-years old, attending an all Japanese-American Catholic missionary school. I was not the brightest in my class, nor was I the worst. However, Sister MJ thought I was rather talented in art, which gave me a lot of confidence and made me happy. As a result, I would happily go to the classroom in the morning before first bell and help her get the class ready for the day--I was such a suck-up. My mother would have told you that I never volunteered at home to do anything, but at school, I was, oh, so the eager beaver. One day, November 22, I went extra early and decided to help her clean the blackboard. She told me to erase the board then gave me a towel to dampen to wipe it off spotlessly. I took the towel to the drinkng fountain outside the class room, soaked it up good, then went back to the room dripping water as I went. I sloshed the board with the towel and began wiping, when Sister MJ noticed that the floor in the front of the classroom was dangerously slippery.

"What on earth..." She whirled around and saw me standing there with a drenched towel dripping water on my feet and the floor. She grabbed the towel and pointed to the door. "Go outside."

I was crushed. No, no, I didn't have a crush on her, but I was fond of this teacher who had praised my artistic talent--of which, of course, I have none. Feeling sorry for myself, I dragged myself into line for second bell, and we filed into our second floor classroom at 9 AM. About an hour later, the principal Sister St. M. came to the door and called for Sister MJ and whipsered something to her. Sister returned and told us to be quiet. She had an announcement.

"Someone shot President Kennedy, and he's in the hospital. Let us pray that he wil recover."

As second graders, we were pretty oblivious to politics, but John F. Kennedy was perhaps the first president to really get a lot of attention in the growing media of television. So while I would not have recognized any president before him, I did know Kennedy, as did the rest of the class.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee..."

After praying, we went back to studying. As Sister MJ wrote new vocabulary words on the board, but I paid no attention. Why did she have to chase me out of the room? I was only trying to help, I thought as I continued to sulk. A half hour later, Sister St. M. appeared again with graver news. This time she told us directly.

"The president has died. Let us pray. Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name..."

Our president had died. No, our president had been murdered. But self-absorbed, all I could do was continue to sulk. The closest I got to feeling any sympathy was the thought that this kind of stuff only happened on TV and movies. A few days later, during the funeral procession, I saw John Jr. saluting his father as his casket rode by him. He was so young and the adults around me wondered if he really grasped the gravity of the moment. But I was pretty sure he knew, because he was only a few years younger than me. I know, so he must know, too. And at that moment, I felt so pathetic. I was feeling so sorry for myself for being scolded by my teacher a few days back, that I realized that I'm the one who did not understand the gravity of the death, I didn't grasp its magnitude.

To this day, I cringe inside everytime I see the image of John Jr. saluting his father.

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