Through the years, former students sent her cards, updating her on their lives and thanking her for making them memorize definitions, use the dictionary, spell words correctly and, above all, for caring about them.
When my mother died, she left one box unmarked. She knew she had cancer, knew she was dying, so ever my mother she had her entire house, top to bottom, sorted and culled beforehand. She was never one to leave something undone and was notorious for the ruthlessness of her cleanouts. And so, amid the boxes labeled "good china for 12: Hads (her nickname for me)" and "Christmas decorations", the unmarked container stuck out.
Inside: letters and cards from former students, often funny, always grateful and affectionate. The keeping of these marked an uncharacteristic moment of sentimentality for my mother. Or was it maybe a way to know she mattered beyond our four walls? I'll never know, but I read them all.