When I was an English teacher in London, I had a small underground literary society. Some of my students were only reading one type of book and not branching out to the classics. I made them a deal that if they read a book that I recommended to them (based on the personality of the student), I would read one book that they wanted me to read. That way we could discuss the different books. Back then I was single, and I spent most of my free time reading or traveling. I read War and Peace that year, because I had nothing to do once I got back to my apartment. I had no TV, no computer, and no stereo. My flat was tiny, made up of only one room except for the bathroom. You’ll never believe this, but I had to pull my bed down from the wall to go to bed. When the bed was down, there was hardly any space to walk. You get the picture.
One of these students from this literary society gave me so many books about dragons, and I enjoyed them all. When I got engaged (the day after directing the play “Fiddler on the Roof”), my students noticed I had a ring on my finger. This girl who loved dragons told me she wanted to sew me a coat of arms for my wedding. Since my wedding was a year off, I thought the plan was doable, so we went to a cloth store and picked out the fabrics. We talked about what my fiance and I would like on our coat of arms. I wanted two dragons facing each other. We also wanted swords, since both of us loved swords. I can’t remember the symbolism of any of it, but we were going to write some words in Latin on the bottom. Something about faithfulness, honesty, and loyalty, since that represented my relationship with my soon-to-be husband. We had remained friends for 8 years through many storms before we got married.
As the wedding date drew closer, my sweet student wasn’t finished yet. Years later when I went back to visit, I found her, and she gave me the unfinished coat of arms. I told her I would finish it, and that it meant a lot to me that she had already put that much work into it. Little did I know that she and her sister had spent more than 100 hours doing this! How do I know? Because it took me 100 hours to finish it, and more than half of it was already done. My half wasn’t as good as her half, and I never added the Latin words because I love it just the way it is. And I get to see it every day on my wall, hung on the rocks next to the fireplace. I love it, and it makes me grateful for having taught such a talented student!Tweet