There are few books that I have ever read in a single sitting. Tabitha Lavender’s very personal story of her healing and recovery from years of emotional and spiritual suffering in the aftermath of her three abortions is one of them.
Forgiven is one woman’s story of how she overcame years of rejection, blame, rationalization and denial to achieve hope, healing and forgiveness by turning her life and her will over to the care of God as she understands him.
Her book runs just 100 pages, but its gripping narrative and its message of hope and healing is what makes it so compelling. That plus the fact that it deals courageously with what society still refuses to accept as the greatest single source of human suffering that humanity has ever endured.
Consider the numbers. In the U.S alone, there have been more than 61 million abortions over the last 50 years -- profoundly affecting the lives of over 30 million women. At least 70 per cent of them have suffered long term emotional, spiritual, and often even physical trauma. Plus millions of men who were involved in their abortions. Alcoholism and drug addiction affect far fewer lives.
Worldwide, the abortion toll is more like 2 billion! All the industrial wars of the 20th Century have not taken so large a toll. Yet the world remains largely in denial about it.
Tabitha Lavender opens a window into the life of one woman – from her initial denial that abortion was anything more than just another medical procedure to her acceptance of it as a solution to her rejection by the men in her life as soon as they learned she had become pregnant. All leading to a profound distrust of men generally.
Her long path to recovery began with her recognition of the physical, emotional and spiritual wounding that abortion causes. “My mind returned to my time on the table, the long scream that I released, and the crying, the hurt, and the pain.”
For some, the physical wounds never heal – future infertility, miscarriages, uterine scarring, cervical pain, colon problems, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, heightened risk of breast cancer, sometimes even death.
More common are the emotional problems: Deep depression lasting 40 years or more in some cases. Plus feelings that future inability to conceive is punishment for an earlier abortion. Some walk the path of promiscuity, seeking out sexual intimacy to soothe their pain. Others descend into drugs and alcohol to numb the shame and the guilt.
Tabitha chose the path of denial -- stuffing her emotions “into other areas of my life where I simply had cut off emotions. The poison showed up as perpetual anger, sometimes rage. . . I had very deep feelings about the abortions that I had buried inside myself, and those feelings had to go somewhere.”
Miss Teach’: A Memoir Handwritten with Love offers readers an open classroom window into the beginnings of special education in Rochester, NY. Through the eyes and insights of one pioneer teacher, readers will gain a unique perspective of the life force behind special education, a field little more than 50 years old.
On Valentine’s Day, 1949, Miss Anne I. Remis arrived on the doorstep of the Edith Hartwell Clinic in Leroy, NY, with a mandate to develop an elementary school class for the clinic’s 30 children with multiple disabilities.
Having no models after which to fashion her class and armed with little more than a Master’s degree in Education and a teacher’s tote of tricks, Miss Remis barely knew where to begin that first day. Then, she spotted a flock of cardinals perched on the snowy branches of a tree outside her classroom window. Seizing the magic of the moment – her future signature approach to teaching – she set out to help her students experience this beautiful gift of nature.
Her students were thrilled with this introduction to learning and to their new teacher. However, the nature lesson led to an unexpected predicament for the teacher. After viewing the birds through the window, all four students ended up lying immobile on their backs on the floor, desperately needing to be lifted and strapped back into their wheelchairs!
Such a quandary would probably have disheartened many novice teachers, but the children’s laughter and excitement only spurred on Miss Remis. Her first lesson taught her that in her classroom, she would be as much of a learner as her students were.
From the Hartwell Clinic to Rochester Public School #5 and, still later, to Public School #29, Miss Remis used imagination and creativity to develop diverse teaching methods that would expose her students to countless educational experiences and facilitate attendant learnings. Devising ways to reach each child was frequently as challenging an assignment as inventing the wheel, but successive generations of students have benefited from her ingenuity.
For special education to succeed, school furniture had to be built and adapted to accommodate differently-sized wheelchairs and students’ assorted physical needs. Instructional materials that catered to unmet learning challenges had to be invented, standardized, and made more readily available. Special education classrooms required novel assistive devices such as communication boards, book holders, and electric typewriters. Parents and various community members needed to be recruited as volunteers to provide extra tutoring. From all these requisites grew a special education community with strong, cooperative bonds among parents, teachers, and students with special needs.
Amidst the innovations, Miss Remis’ love for learning, her respect for the dignity of each child, and her patience and perseverance in discovering each student’s hidden potential remained constant throughout her 29-year career.
These principles, which lie at the very heart of Miss Remis’ success in educating children with multiple disabilities, radiate in her recollections of the struggles and joys associated with her teaching career. Her stories will no doubt serve as examples for today’s parents and teachers, inspiring those who work with children with disabilities to maintain hope even when despair appears inevitable. Her life is a witness to the power of what one person can do to leave the world a better place for today’s children.
As Miss Remis believes, every child has hidden potential that, given love, patience, and the guidance of a good teacher, will ultimately be unearthed and nurtured, providing the child with a door to success.
I should know as I was one of those taught with her love.
Ann E. Kurzwas a student of Miss Remis from Fall 1970 to Spring 1973. She graduated from Trinity College in Washington, DC, and received a Master’s degree in Computers in Education from the University of Rochester. She is now a marketing research analyst at Wegmans’ Food Markets and serves on the board of CP Rochester, a non-profit organization connecting people with disabilities to their community. All royalties from ‘Miss Teach’ go to CP Rochester.