At first I didn’t recognize the feeble old man as he stumbled by the window of the school districts multimedia facility. He was nearly to El Dorado Drive when it dawned on who I had jus’ seen: my fourth grade teacher — Robert Kirby.
Mr. Kirby first made himself known to me when I was in kindergarten. He had seen me walking along U.S. 101 to the bus stop when he stopped and made me get in his car because, as he later explained to my folks, “he was walking on the white line at the side of the road like a tight-rope walker.”
I wasn’t, but that’s my take on the incident.
Anyway, I rushed out of the building and caught up with the now fragile and former grade school teacher. I said hello to him but he didn’t have a clue who I was.
When I told him my name, his demeanor changed and his body stiffened a little. I continued to walk along side of him.
Mr. Kirby was using a cane, so I moved to his left side, figuring was his weaker side and offered him my arm to lean on. I could tell he was leery of my offer since we had never gotten along from the time I was first enrolled until I graduated from Margaret Keating School.
After another offer from me, and another stumble on his part, he slipped his left arm in and over my right arm and we continued east on El Dorado.
About 20 minutes later he pointed out the house he now lived in and I walked up the steps to the door with him. He stepped inside and started to close the door, when he turned, looked at me and said, “Good to see you, Tommy. I think you’ve become a fine young man.”
It would be the last time I’d ever see him. Mr. Kirby passed away in March 1982.