My first grade teacher gave me a note one morning at school. The note said to go to the kitchen in the lunchroom. My father had died from a suicide a few months earlier during summer break, but I didn't think about that when I got the note. I just wondered why I got the note and I felt nervous walking down the hall on my little six-year-old legs.
I turned the doorknob and walked in to the quiet kitchen and there was Mrs. Morton-the-lunch-lady in her blue frock and white collar. She was an older woman with tight, dark grey curls all over her head. Her big eyes and full lips reminded me of Barney Fife on Mayberry. She said, "Here, I just wanted to give you this", and she handed me an orange, which she had studded with coins: two quarters for eyes, a nickel for a nose, and pennies in the shape of a smile.
This was in the year 1968 when people had no idea what to say to someone, young or old, who had lost a family member to suicide. Mrs. Morton didn't say anything about it either, but by calling me out of class to give me that smiley-faced orange, she said precisely what I needed to hear.
I will always love Mrs. Morton.