Easter echoes in Whaleyville

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, March 28, 2015

During a recent Easter shopping trip to Norfolk, I drove down Military Highway to avoid rush-hour traffic on Interstate 64.

At the highway intersection, I glimpsed a message on the rear windshield of an oversized SUV that really got my attention. The message was a memorial that read “In Loving Memory…Thanks Miss Kitty.”

It conjured up memories of my aunt and the important gift she gave to many local children in the Whaleyville community. Like me, she never married, didn’t have children and tended to drive small cars. Her name was Colleen, and to this day, I don’t know how she got the “Kitty” nickname.

Email newsletter signup

On Sunday mornings, she’d load up her car with kids living along the three-mile stretch between our farm and church. My sister Denise and I were the first to pile in. The second pickup was for the kids living on Cypress Chapel Road. Aunt Kitty’s last stop was picking up the two Hayward sisters.

Even as kids, most of us could have been on the Jenny Craig weight loss program, but somehow we managed to find a crunched space on Aunt Kitty’s back seat.

As I think about the sacrificial meaning of Easter, I reflect on the impact of what she did for us. Through her selfless efforts to ensure our weekly attendance at Sunday School, we learned Bible stories and expanded our knowledge of the teachings of Christ. I have a feeling those good works have earned a special place for her in heaven.

Military Highway is a long stretch of road and provided more time for reflection. As I drove along glancing at familiar antique stores of yesteryear, my thoughts focused on educators who contributed to my lifetime learning experience.

They include the female elementary school teachers who taught at William Jones School in Whaleyville. Three special ladies came to mind: Mrs. Edwards (fourth grade), Mrs. Katherine Horton (fifth grade), and Mrs. Lois Davis (sixth grade). Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Horton have passed on, but I want to recognize them posthumously for everything they taught me. Mrs. Davis is retired and still with us.

Each of them had their own way of communicating and teaching, and they were all effective and instrumental forces for good in my life.

It was in the sixth grade, under Mrs. Davis’s guidance, that I began to appreciate the value of the English language and the power of the written word. Mrs. Davis was an exemplary teacher, and I will be forever grateful for the writing seed that was sown upon me in her classroom. Just the thought of her persistence to make her students learn and “get it” still floods my heart with gratitude.

Although my first- and second-grade education was not acquired in Whaleyville, I want to acknowledge those teachers, Mrs. Elizabeth Christian (first grade) and Dr. Arlethia Elliott (second grade), for providing a gold-standard foundation for my educational pursuits. Both of them live in the Hampton Roads area.

Easter is an ideal time for humble gratitude and remembrance of Christ, our loved ones and the special people who’ve contributed to our lifelong development and growth. The years too often pass by before we recognize the very people who were entrusted by God to lead and guide us.

This Easter, take time to thank someone who made a difference in your life.

Billie Joy Langston is a freelance writer of positive living and inspirational literature. She is a native of Suffolk. Email her at billielangstone@yahoo.com.