I received a letter earlier this week from a professor I had last semester. He had missed the last two classes and wrote a letter to each of his students explaining why. He recently discovered he had cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. After three sessions of chemo, he says things are looking up. Along with the letter was my final paper I had to write with his handwritten notes in red. He apologized for not being able to grade the rest of our homework. Before I saw the graded paper I was surprised that while ill, he still took the time to type up and individually address and sign each letter. Yet when I saw that he had attached my paper with handwritten comments I was amazed. It really meant something to me that he not only read each one of his students’ papers, but he also took the time to write back. Neither his letter nor the comments he wrote were very long, but they were both filled with gratitude and optimism. Simple words filled with an abundance of meaning that made his love for teaching and appreciation for his students apparent.
The class topic wasn’t necessarily beneficial or valuable, but it was a privilege and a pleasure to have been able to meet the sweet man who taught it. He definitely had a glass-half-full kind of outlook. His sanguinity is apparent through and through as demonstrated in his letter (he includes that he “intends to stay active and will continue to do [his] best”). If there is one thing I learned from spending my Saturdays with him it’s nothing from the syllabus, but directly from the professor who taught it: optimism is contagious.
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