I Wear a Ring on My Right Hand

Growing up in rural Taylorville, I was raised in a fairly ideal situation. Our home was in a great neighborhood with a bunch of kids. We were a couple blocks from the school where my mom was a secretary before she got her teaching license, so I could walk to school. And I had two sets of parents: my mom and dad and their best friends, David and Gerri.

Gerri was the teacher I always wanted to be. It was not uncommon to be at her house on a Friday night and hear the phone ring because a student needed help with a problem.

To have an adult that interested in your life as a kid meant the world to us. Even as I fell in love with Beth and was out of high school, she’d tell us, “I want to know everything. I want to know every detail about your experiences.”

Gerrie died in the fall of 1985, ten years after I graduated from high school, before I started doing any of the stuff I have done. I was so angry because I wanted to share all of my teaching experiences, my video work, my marriage, my music and my stories with her.

Since she passed away, I have worn a ring on my right hand in her memory. Whenever I meet someone famous, she gets to meet them. Whenever I go see something new, I feel like she’s with me. When I hug a student, I always hug them with my right arm so she can hug them, too.

I feel like it passes on her legacy and all the things she taught me. It’s heartwarming that there are now three of my former students wearing a ring on their right hand to carry on both Gerri's and my legacy.