I met her in September 1975. I was a sophomore in high school in Massachusetts. Maureen Fallon was a recent college graduate teaching a sophomore English class. I spent the next three years having many conversations with her. She had a significant impact on my life, as some teachers do. She never spoke to me like I was a child. Rather, she spoke to me like I was on the verge of being a young adult, which, of course, I was. In doing so, she expanded my intellect in way that might not have happened but for those conversations.

After I graduated in May 1977 we kept in touch for a while. I visited her at the high school from time to time until she left to pursue a different career. We lost touch with one another until October 1979. I was sitting in the cafeteria at a Community College and saw a very familiar person sitting at another table. I did a second, third and fourth look before going over to the table because I could not imagine why she would be at the college. We spent time talking and catching up and met in the cafeteria for lunch at least once a week. In early November, one of my uncles, my godfather, died unexpectedly. I talked with Maureen and doing so helped ease the shock and the pain. She left the college at the end of the semester but we kept in touch by writing letters. Eventually we lost touch because I stopped writing. I wish I hadn’t but I was young and sometimes didn’t always make the best decisions.

I finally reconnected with her a few years after I moved to South Florida. We reminisced about high school and what had been happening in our lives. She was married and had a son. She had also been very ill but was recovering. We stayed in touch. I told her I was gay. I told her about my partner. She was accepting and supportive. When my partner, Karen, died, in March, 2006, I called her to let her know. We talked for nearly an hour and once again, she offered comfort during a difficult time.

Five years later, after my three cats and my mother died within thirteen days, I found myself dealing with being alone for the first time in my life. I decided to fill the emptiness by finally finishing a book I had begun writing in the early 1990s. I sent Maureen the first chapter and after a conversation, she agreed to be the “editor.” I worked on the book from June until December. I would email one or two chapters to her at a time. Maureen would send back the chapters with suggestions/edits which were always helpful.

The first holidays without a loved one are always difficult. I was not completely alone, I had three kittens living with me, but I missed my Mom. Maureen waited until the day before Thanksgiving to send her comments about some chapters I had sent her. The feedback was very positive. She also waited until two days before Christmas to send feedback about the final three chapters of the book. She did that so I would have something positive during a time that would be bittersweet and difficult.

We still keep in touch from time to time. I appreciate all the moments and time she took to teach, encourage or offer comfort to me. She is like a beautiful thread running through my life.

Patricia Smith
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