Friday, March 9, 2012
A Bell to Hold
One day my dad handed me a bell, a school bell. It had been his dad's school bell. Someone I had become fond of, had been intrigued by, and had always wished I would have met. My grandfather died before I was born, before my father was even married. As I grew up my dad would tell me stories that his dad had told him and stories my dad remembered about his father. The stories made him come alive for me.
One day after I had been teaching for several years and had a family of my own, my dad gave me his dad's school bell. He told me that his dad, as the superintendent, wrung the bell when the students came to his rural Iowan school each morning. He told me his dad called each student by name and prided himself in knowing each student's name and something about each.
I took the bell in my hand. The brass was no longer shining but it was beautiful. The ring it made was clear and strong. The handle was slender and black and yet, where my grandfather's hand had held it the black covering had worn off. I held that bell in my hand as I thought he would. I was touching something that was his. Each time I hold that bell I imagine his hand on top of mine. And at the beginning of each school year and on the first day, I learn each student's name and something about each in honor of a man who rang a school bell.