Remembering a teacher; reflecting on life

Earlier today I read updates from friends on Facebook about the passing of one of the old teachers from my grade school years. And it came as a surprise, being that I have not really heard much about him recently, except for an exhibit by philatelists in SM City Cagayan de Oro.

Mr. Rene Abella was one of the well-known campus figures during my time in Xavier University Grade School. He handled one of the sixth-grade classes and he usually coached the science category team of the school in quiz bee competitions. He was also very active when it comes to exhibits for science investigatory projects. And he also coached the grade school’s swim team.

I was never in one of his moderating classes, but as early as I think the third-grade, I was already familiar with who he was, being that he usually supervised the science exhibits. And whenever we could not restrain our curious fingers from tinkering with the projects on display, he would usually be there to call our attention.

“You, come here and give me fifty push-ups!” he would blurt out. And that was a line we learned to associate with him throughout our elementary years and even afterwards. Whenever we had mini gatherings of grade school alumni, we would usually remember the times he was there to call us out with that line.

In sixth grade I was in the class with the room next to his. And I would sometimes see him do some of his unique methods for teaching and concentration to his section. I would also later see him brag about his collection of stamps – some of which were very rare.

Later on I would frequently see him in quiz bees, where he was coach of the school’s team for the science category, while I was with my coach, Mr. Dionisio Pongo, for the Philippine history category.

Sharing my thoughts earlier about him and his passing on Facebook, it earned some comments from friends, particularly batch mates. And without leaving the comment thread, we recalled memories from grade school, particularly of Mr. Abella. Some mentioned his notable lines and his classroom antics. And the nostalgia brought out some laughs.

As my batch mates and I were reclaiming memories of Mr. Abella, a thought flashed on my mind and I wondered: How will I be remembered when I am gone? What lines will people recall me by? What memories of me or with me will they reclaim when I am no more?

I wonder if I will be remembered with such fondness as Sir Rene. I wonder if the thought of me will summon happy memories. I wonder if the words I will be remembered by will be one of kindness and love instead of deceit and hate.

Whatever the outcome may be though, I am thankful that I have been privileged to have met Sir Rene. And I am grateful that a quick exchange with batch mates of our experiences with him, enabled me to reflect on how I have lived and will continue to be living my life.

Thank you very much Sir Rene! Rest in a well-earned peace sir.

I pray the Almighty grant your family solace.

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