Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friend Of Caesar


This afternoon, I spoke by phone with Mike Tune who is now overseeing from the US the work his father, Tom, began in Can Tho, Vietnam. I will arrive in Can Tho in three weeks for my fourth mission in this lovely city of a million. One thing I will be doing is working with the English teachers in the church on their conversational skills. I'm not bilingual but I would have been more so if I'd have listened closely in high school! The following is about the wonderful lady who taught me that ancient language, Latin. It printed originally in May of 2007.

Mrs. Nettleton died yesterday. I have a morbid confession to make. The first thing I look at when I visit my online hometown newspaper, the York News-Times, is the obituaries. She was there this morning. Ruth Nettleton was my Latin teacher at York High School. The obituary gave her age as one hundred one; I assumed she died years ago. Like most kids, I would have guessed Mrs. Nettleton was close to the century mark when I was in her classroom, thinking she babysat for Julius Caesar in his formative years. Upon leaving junior high, my folks strongly encouraged my taking two years of a foreign language in preparation for college. There were only two options; French and Latin. In retrospect, French could have helped me on my mission trip to Haiti, if I had retained any of it. But, the die was cast and it came up Latin. So, for my freshman and sophomore years, I sat at the feet of Mrs. Nettleton. She was a very nice lady who loved Latin. She was a very good teacher although it would be hard to prove based on my retention, consisting of the ability to count to ten just like men of Rome centuries ago. She was kind to me, even though I thought what she taught was a waste of my precious fourteen-fifteen-sixteen year old time. I skated through, content to get by with minimum effort. It was my loss.

We were cleaning up this afternoon in one of my classes after a period of counting pennies for our Honduras orphanage project. One of the boys was acting like a fourteen year old boy, which he just happens to be. One of the girls rolled her eyes and shook her head. She has no concept of how a young man can be so goofy. I understand; I walked in those tennis shoes a few decades ago. There was so much going on that went by without my comprehension just like it does with many teenage boys of this generation, maybe every generation. There is a Biblical definition of me at that awkward stage of development:
"I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who lacked judgment." (Proverbs 7:7)

Man, I missed alot. At some point, the light flickered on and I realized that I knew very little and so many people could teach me so much. Mrs. Nettleton belonged to that group but my opportunity passed. Tonight, I found several video clips of her on the Internet talking about farm life in Nebraska as a girl in the early twentieth century. It was obvious she had a wealth of wisdom to share and was eager to do so. Too bad I wasn't listening when I had the chance.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Potius sero quam numquam." (It's better late than never.)
Livy


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

2 comments:

D.J. Hughes said...

"It was obvious she had a wealth of wisdom to share and was eager to do so. Too bad I wasn't listening when I had the chance."

I think this is true of all of us at one time or another. And yes, it is "better late than never." There are so many people surrounding us, people like Mrs. Nettleton, who have so much to share, if we would take the time to truly listen. Your post is an appropriate exhortation, especially in today's world where the elderly are so often marginalized.

Enjoyed your reflection.

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

What a great perspective. She was a century old - how amazing! I wonder how we can convince our teens to turn that light bulb on while they are still teens?