My big brother the teacher

I was listening to Nelson Mandela’s audio book version of his autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom, and during it, he discusses how he once thought that to have a BA meant that you could then become a true leader. I thought about this for a little bit, and recalled my brother and how he felt about education. Though he never did earn a BA, he did value education, particularly for me.

When I was in fifth grade, I expressed that my teacher was very poor in her teaching of long division. She really wasn’t a very smart person, and teaching was certainly not her forte at all, particularly in the math realm. Ed was so mad about this that he decided to take it upon himself to teach me. So a few hours a week, he’d set some time up with me to go over the fundamentals of long division, how it works, with many examples where he’d walk me through each step, and end with a few sample quizzes for me. I was terribly slow at learning it, but with his nurturing patience, I eventually grasped it. In retrospect, I realized that my brother could have become a really great teacher. He was so patient and empathetic.

I remember the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I took a psychology course at City College for fun since it was free. I’d always wanted to study psych, so I figured this would be a great opportunity. I loved that course; it’s by far one of the best classes I’ve taken in my life. However, I knew that it was an elective and would not be counted against my high school GPA, so for the first exam, I didn’t study. My professor (Robert Gurney) said that he would drop the lowest test score, so I figured I could slack off for the first exam. The night before the exam, I sat in our living room, watching TV, and Ed came over and asked how the class was going. I told him it was going well and that we had an exam the next day. He looked at me, puzzled, and then asked, why aren’t you studying? “He drops the lowest test score for the final grade,” I responded. “Yvonne, just because he drops the lowest test score doesn’t mean you don’t study!” He exclaimed. I laughed and said it wasn’t a big deal. This was Ed worrying about me as usual, hoping I would do my best and showing his big brother concern. I ended up getting a B on that test. On every test following that, I studied and got all A’s. Ed knew this, and he still thought I should have studied for that first exam. Oh, Ed.

I’m so lucky and blessed that I have so many great memories of my brother and that I was given 27.5 years with him in my life.

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