Catina Byrum is just a teacher. A teacher I have watched from afar for five years now. I have silently observed her calm demeanor, loving nature, quiet self walking the halls with her own group of ducks. A small group usually, her class of three and four year olds with their own extra special needs and her role as Mama Duck has been one that I never tire of watching. How would I have known that my own son would soon join her tribe and be welcomed into the fold of the one I had admired?
I didn't know and I would never have wished truthfully, even though I thought she was wonderful. To have this perfect teacher, the price would be too great, I thought back then. No, a child with special needs had not been on my to do list. Life has a way of surprising you and as the tides change, so do the paths that we travel. As much as I struggled with accepting Amos' special need status, I have never floundered on my happiness of who his teacher and Mama Duck shall be.
To say I am thankful for my path to cross hers is terribly not enough. To say I am proud of her being awarded Teacher of the Year for our small community, again does nothing to the feelings that have welled up within my heart. To acknowledge the teacher that loves and nourishes our most special children washes over me as a gift that inspires. Amos will spend his days with a teacher that loves only as she could, the mother of her own special needs son who moved on from this world a year ago and yet, she has carried on. She has chosen joy and her example of perseverance and love is like nothing I have encountered.
Thank you, Catina. Thank you from all the families that have been blessed by you, not just from the sidelines, but on the playing field. My love for Amos has surprised even myself, though I'm not sure why. You have made the game of life immeasurably better by just being you and your love and valiant joy are a gift to us all.