Wise Women in Habits

We called them nuns or sisters. They dressed in habits and veils that made them stand apart from other adults we children knew. Not all habits and veils were alike. That depended on what religious order they belonged to. But all of them at the time I went to school lived together, didn't socialize alone, followed a strict daily regimen, and received little if any pay. Their order took care of them. As I look back on that time, I'm amazed the system stayed in place as long as it did.

Like many parochial school students, I had my share of wonderful ones that inspired me, challenged me, and fostered good study habits. Here are a few of these wise women in habits and why I am thankful for them.

My first grade teacher recognized I knew how to read before I entered her class. She gave me the freedom to use reading time to read all the extra books on the shelves and tell her about them. This inspired my love of reading: a habit I still have. Thank you, Sister.

In high school I had three Sisters, different veils and habits, but they were so instrumental in my life. Their enthusiasm and personal comments helped forge my interests as an adult.

One taught history with such enthusiasm I couldn't wait for her class. Each lecture was like reliving the event. How fortunate I was to realize in my teens that history wasn't about dates but about people whose lives and the events during their lives affected all succeeding generations.

The second taught English and composition. She told me I had a sparkle to my writing and I had a duty to that sparkle to foster that talent always. While others moaned about a weekly essay, I couldn't wait to write and polish. We all know where this enthusiasm led me.

The third one taught math—my worst subject. She taught me perseverance while teaching me math. I learned in spite of myself. That determination to never give up still pushes me, but not necessarily in math.

I know nothing more about these women. I do know I think of them and thank them for setting my feet on learning paths I've always used and reinforced in my sons.

Wise Women in habits, how fortunate I was to have these four.