A very special woman in my life passed away last week. She went by many different names- Sandi, Ms. Taylor, Mama T, and Ms. T. No matter what you called her, you loved her.
She was my high school family and consumer sciences teacher but she was so much more than a teacher. We traveled the country together attending leadership meetings in places like Minneapolis, Anaheim, Orlando, Louisville, and Boston. We also spent lots of time on the roads throughout Georgia. If you really want to know someone well, travel with them.
She was a planner. As a trip would be approaching, Ms. T was making lists. She’d also start pre packing days in advance by laying out needed items on her guest bed. She would travel with her pillow, diet coke, and plenty of nasal spray. She taught me the importance of not procrastinating. I often think of her as I am packing for a trip and loading up my dining room table with things we are going to need while on the road.
She was hilarious. She had the wittiest sense of humor. We would get so tickled that she often joked she was going to wet her pants, which of course made us laugh even more.
She loved holidays. She loved all the holidays and decorated for most of them. She even had holiday themed sweaters that she would rock too. We used to receive Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day cards that were signed Mama T. Even her return address labels had cute holiday themed pictures on them. She always spread lots of holiday cheer!
She loved the Tennessee Volunteers. I think that is probably an understatement. She had plenty of UT clothing, a license plate on her car, flags for her car, and didn’t hesitate to sing Rocky Top at any opportunity. She watched most of the UT sporting events and would often rant on social media when something unfair happened to her team. She was a devoted Volunteer, to say the least!
She was the queen of monogramming. I can’t even count all the shirts that she monogramed for me with the FCCLA logo on them. I still have my high school chef’s coat featuring my name on it hanging in my closet. Then, once I had JB, she would monogram onesies and shirts for him. They always looked so perfect!
She was a wonderful gift giver. She always had a well thought out gift to give on so many occasions. Not only that, she always had the prettiest wrapping job too. When we got married, she gifted us the bridesmaid’s gifts for us to give to out on our behalf. She monogrammed beautiful bathrobes (and slippers for me) with each woman’s initials. And she gifted each woman a set of pearl earrings too. It was such a wonderful, generous gift on our special day!
She was a hard worker. Being a FCCLA Adviser for a state officer did not command extra pay. In fact, it made her summer break much shorter and caused extra expenses due to so much travel with me. But, she never complained. She loved the sense of community that came with our FCCLA state officer family.
She was so proud of her students. Whether it was competing in STAR Events, running for office, working in the community, or applying for awards, she was so proud of her students. She was a cheerleader for us all and did whatever she could to help us succeed. The first year that the FCCLA Knowledge Bowl competition took place at the GA National Fair, she drove our team to Perry, GA to compete. After many rounds of competing, we won the first place prize! She was just so proud of how hard we worked to compete in something new AND win!
She had beautiful handwriting. Her notes were always full of perfect penmanship. Our certificates always looked so professional thanks to her. I can still see her flowing cursive in my mind today.
Dear Ms. T,
Thank you for the impact you had on my life. You helped make me a strong woman who connects with and cares for my community. You taught me the value in doing something new and how wonderful that can be. You’ve impacted so many students over the years and we will miss you dearly. Thank you for investing in me and loving me.