Reflections- A Celebration of my Childhood; In Memory of my Teacher, Mr. Henry
My childhood memories have been very present in my thoughts for the past week. This is mostly due to the mourning on a global scale of the passing of Michael Jackson and on a personal profound scale of my teacher, Mr. Henry.
The news of Michael’s death really moved me. It has been some time, since I celebrated and danced to his music without some reservation. This reservation was due in part to his many legal troubles and his external struggle with his identity.
His passing took me immediately to the place of celebrating this man that made us dance, scream, cry and change our entire wardrobe. Yes, I did and I have pictures to proof it!! The news made me realize that there was no one outside of my family or community that I wanted to be like, more than the Rock with you, Michael Jackson. That in itself is a huge revelation.
For the child in Panama, the Jackson family was royalty. Michael was the artist who transcended race. You could not help to move to his music, no matter what color you were or what part of the world you lived in.
I am not dismissing his public contradictions but would like to focus on the first time you heard Ben or your first attempt at memorizing the Thriller video. How you smiled when you danced to Remember the time.
I knew my adoration was not only a product of my imagination when my father called me to see if I was ok. My father brought us to the US for the Victory Tour at the Meadowlands. He remembered how much I cried from the excitement. My sister and brother remember my screaming. Later that evening, my niece called me to see how I was doing and she could not comprehend the level of my sadness. It was difficult to explain how I had a story to what I was doing when I heard Michael’s songs.
All in all, I mourn Michael’s sudden and tragic death and I celebrate the video of my childhood with his music as the background.
Very similar to the impact of Michael’s passing was the news of my teacher, Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry was dear to me not only in the classroom but in the community. As I have gained clarity on the impact of segregation within the Canal Zone, Mr. Henry was very much a part of my fluid transition.
He was part of Rainbow City. He understood us because he was us. He was a daily reminder of how important it was for us to succeed in this environment.
Mr. Henry also went beyond us by having an impact on all his students at CHS. This week we all had a story, from his smile, to his pens, his driving and his dedication. Bless him for all the time he spent with me on Math.
A few years back I was able to say, Thank you directly to him. Today, I share him with you and thank him for his lasting impact on so many of us. I thank him for being a teacher beyond the classroom.
Before closing, I reflect back on my recent Reflection where I shared that I am a product of many people. My childhood memories continue to answer, why I do what I do and why I have chosen this path. Today the woman in the mirror is a product of Michael Jackson’s great music and the simple joy of dancing and of Mr. Henry who defined commitment to his profession and to his students.
May they rest in Peace. Alaafia