Unexpected Gifts

In my last blog entry I explained how the students I teach at Radford University in sculpture worked to make an installation of sculptural glass forms in an intimate courtyard space nestled in the center of the Department of Education.  I had approached Dr Ann Roberts who teaches there to see if it might be possible to do an installation of sculpture in glass in the courtyard garden.  Ann has taken on the care of this space and has filled the garden planter with an array of flowering plants and it is clear that she loves the peaceful space that hers and others’ offices look out onto.  In fact, she had mentioned something in the not too distant past about putting art in the space.  As I looked around campus for a suitable location for something like glass, I remembered the space she had mentioned and how well protected it was.  I knew my students and I couldn’t put this work just anywhere, so on my list of possible locations, I emailed Ann to see what she thought.  The result was being welcomed with open arms and being given a great degree of freedom to do whatever it was we felt we needed to do to pull it off in the space.  It was wonderful.  To my knowledge, nothing quite like this had ever been done, and many in the department remarked how they had talked about wanting to put art in the space but never got around to it.  So perhaps, in that small way, we served as a gift to the students, faculty, and staff who work in the building.
On the big day when most work was completed and we were hauling glass elements into the building from the parking lot, in walks a woman into the courtyard as I supervised the install who had a knowing look on her face who chats with me for a few moments.  This woman is the Chair of the department and I exclaimed to her how glad I was that my students were given such an opportunity as this.  But her look remained throughout our brief talk and it looked just as though the cat had caught the canary.  I felt like maybe I was in trouble, and as I looked at her and wondered, she said “You don’t remember me, do you?”  I eyed her closely and had to admit, “No, I don’t!”  She told me her name and it was then that I remembered those eyes!  This was one of two people who had made a real difference in my elementary education!  Dr Sandra Moore!  So odd, too, that I had tried to hunt them down over the past year without any luck.  I had wanted to tell them what a difference they had made.  And here she was standing in front of me, part of a process that was enabling my students and myself to realize what had just been a dream a few short weeks earlier.  The gift circle was complete.
The department faculty had taken note of how Dr. Moore had liked a water fountain my students had designed that was in the space and they wanted us to make her one as a gift for her service to the department.  Dr. Moore was stepping down as the Chair effective at the end of that semester.  As a result of this, I was asked to come to a luncheon that they were holding in her honor when they caught wind of how important she had been in my earlier life so I could add a few words.
So tomorrow I stop by and put in a few words about someone whose impact on my life was significant, an event tied up in yet another event (the installation) that was itself a gift not just to me but to my students as well.  Funny, too, since I had tried to track those old teachers down recently in a bid to let them know how much they meant.  Sometimes life throws you some unexpected gifts…