My daughter asked me, a few weeks ago, if I had any regrets and if so what they were. I could not think of any, offhand, and told her so, but today I thought of one regret.
In 6th grade we had a student teacher – Mary Woiwode. I don’t remember too much about her. In my memories she was short with short dark hair. I remember only one lesson she taught – an art lesson. She looked at the drawing or painting I was creating and noted the diagonal line I drew on the page. She said she thought it represented the two sides to the issue (I think we were supposed to be creating our impressions of communism – or else I am mixing this up with another memory) – the light and the dark sides. The only other thing I remember about that painting was that I drew or painted some birds in the sky and a classmate wondered why there were pterodactyls or bomber jets in my artwork. Miss Woiwode’s validation of my primitive art was an important point in my life and I’ll not forget it.
The most memorable event during Miss Woiwode’s tenure in our classroom was the visit of her brother — Larry Woiwode — a published author. His book, What I’m Going to Do I Think, was a literary success and his second book, Beyond the Bedroom Wall had been considered for a movie. Mr Woiwode was young and, in my 6th grade girl’s eyes, handsome. He must have been in his mid to late twenties. I don’t remember much of his speech, except that he prefaced his answer to my question about the courses someone should take in college if one wanted to be an author, with “What a great question!”. That and he borrowed my turquoise pen to sign autographs and I insisted he keep it. I think. Or else someone else did that and were so open about their emotions that I absorbed it and made it my own memory.
This visit was an important one to the school. It was recorded and broadcast on closed circuit television. This was in the late 1960’s. I always wonder if the recording still exists and if so, in what format.
Until I met Larry Woiwode and asked him about college courses I had no desire to be a writer. But after meeting him as a 12 year old, I realized that I had the power to create words that others might read and laugh or cry. But that is not the regret.
Here is the regret. Miss Woiwode was getting married soon after her student teaching in our classroom ended. She invited the entire class to the wedding. I think we even got invitations in the mail. Maybe not. But I distinctly recall standing in my room in front of my closet. My mom asked if I wanted to go to the wedding. I think I said no. My mom seemed relieved. It seems that she may have said something about me not having anything to wear to the wedding. This might have been the day before the wedding or weeks before it. I know that I really wanted to go, but pretended I didn’t.
After the wedding the girls that did go talked about it. It was beautiful. Miss Woiwode was beautiful. And they danced — they danced with the groom and they danced with the brother.
My regret is that I didn’t dance with Larry Woiwode.
I didn’t know this was a regret until I watched a couple of videos of Mr Woiwode addressing a group of people last year in his native state of North Dakota, then I realized that all these years I’ve regretted not going to that wedding and being in the same room with this man again.
So Larry – if you see this. I’ve saved a dance for you.