Iris turned from where she was writing the spelling words for the week on the blackboard when she heard the main doors of the building being opened. The students would be inside soon. She quickly surveyed the room. Everything was ready for the week and so was she. Iris was one of those rare teachers who’d been teaching for many years and still loved her job. She was good at it, and it showed. She was a teacher that students looked up to and respected.
As the students began to file in for the morning, she picked up the stack of papers that she had graded. She began to walk around the room, laying out the papers on their desks for the students to see when they came in.
“Hey, I got a B!” she heard Billy in the front row exclaim.
“I got an A!” his friend, Mark boasted.
“Very nicely, done, Annelise,” Iris said as she put the paper down in front of the dark-haired girl who was just unzipping her jacket. “I was pleased to read your essay but sorry to hear that your Grandfather has Alzheimer’s. Has he been sick for long?”
“Oh, he’s not my Grandpa,” Annelise said, her cheeks going slightly pink. She hurried over to the coat room to hang up her jacket and put her lunchbox away.
Iris was stumped. Annelise had written a beautiful essay all about her Grandpa and how he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was obvious she’d even gone to the library and done some research on the topic.
Iris continued handing out the papers, puzzling over Annelise and the Grandfather who wasn’t her Grandfather. She decided to ask her about it later and not embarrass her in front of the class. She got the opportunity when the bell rang for lunch. She asked Annelise if she could talk to her for a moment.
“I wanted to ask you about your essay,” she said, smiling to put Annelise at ease.
“Did I do it wrong?” she asked.
“No, dear, you did a great job, and I was very impressed that you even looked up Alzheimer’s so that you could include some details in your essay,” Iris said, “Who is the man that you wrote about?”
“His name is Barney,” Annelise said, “He lives by me, and I sit with him at the park.”
“Oh, why didn’t you say that in your paper? You said he was your Grandfather.”
“I call him Grandpa,” Annelise said, “He smiles when I do.”
“Does Barney have a family?” Iris asked.
“Yes, he has Chloe. She’s his daughter.”
“Oh, good,” Iris said, relieved that Barney wasn’t alone, “You can go to lunch now, dear. I was just curious who the man with Alzheimer’s was.”
“He’s nice, Miss Gleason,” Annelise assured her, and Iris smiled.
After Annelise had run off to join her classmates, Iris made a note to check with Annelise’s Mother. She wanted to ask about Barney and make sure that Annelise’s Mother knew that her daughter had made friends with this poor old man. She was worried about the implications of his illness and the effects its progression would have on Annelise.
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