Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Student I Never Complained About

Andrew. He was in my class a year ago. His physical disabilities were formidable. With the use of a walker, he could slowly get into the classroom (always on time) and teeter next to a chair until he could fall into it as accurately as he could manage to aim.

He was legally blind, had 2 pairs of glasses he had to switch back and forth between, during class. His speech was impaired. When it was his time to read from his own work, it was excruciatingly slow. But you could feel it in the room: we were totally rooting for him. When he had to turn the page, it was a struggle. But there was a definite vibe from him that he didn't want help doing it.

Andrew told me how he got the way he was. When he was 8, his mother's pet dog viciously attacked him. Bit through the back of his skull. Caused brain damage. Through the years he had strokes and developed a brain tumor. When I met him, in his junior year of college, he had just gone through a round of experimental radiation to rid him of the tumor that had grown inside his head after the first one had been surgically removed. The long scar on the back of his head was what nightmares are made of. And his hair wouldn't grow in that spot again, so there was no covering it up. He was excited about the treatment, because killing off the tumor was almost a given.

He loved Pink Floyd. Brought this glossy, expensive Floyd book to class to show me. It took him a very long time to wrestle it out of his backpack.

For one assignment in the class, he wrote a memoir about when he was 12 and had worked in a fundraising tent for his boy scout troop. All these giggling up-to-no-good prepubescent boys were corralled into a tent at the county fair to prepare and sell hot baked potatoes, with all the toppings. My favorite line in his paper was about how the potatoes "grumbled" down the wooden chute into the big aluminum bucket where they were washed.

Oh, he went on to be an Eagle Scout.

I wrote him a recommendation letter when he applied to be a tech support guy at the campus computer center. I never heard if he got the job or not.

What I did hear, today, is that he died in August. It made me sick.

People really fight hard sometimes. They keep pushing that Sisyphian rock up the hill. He pushed and pushed. And lost.

I am so glad our paths crossed at such a big impersonal university. He had such guts. I still have his papers and I know I'll read about the potato tent again.


  • At 12:45 PM, Blogger Carin said…

    Oh, that's so sad;( I almost cried reading about him.

  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I know, Carin. He just never got a break. And he was so smart and motivated.

  • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. What a touching story, thanks for sharing.

    Can I be in one of your classes?

  • At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I knew this wonderful student from the advising office and was always so impressed with him! With all the problems he had, he was a very dedicated student and I truly loved every minute that he visited the office. He was such a pleasure to talk to. I feel very blessed and thankful to have known him!


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