Evelyn Hannon: Aging Disgracefully


Why This Homework Assignment Made Me Cry Good Tears

A thank you note from Grandma to Granddaughter's Teacher

Homework assignment school project

Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

There is a very smart woman somewhere out there who was my granddaughter’s grade six teacher. Unbeknownst to her, her class assignment led to a fantastic gift for me, one that I will cherish forever. As for my granddaughter, I’m sure that this was solely work that would hopefully lead to a good mark. Yet, I knew that the hidden benefits were there for her, too.

It started with a simple phone call.

"Grandma, can I interview you for my school project?"

"Of course, Sweetie, what’s it about?"

"Your life, and . . . we can do it over the phone."

What followed were many kinds of questions. She wanted the facts, but she was also digging for emotions attached to events. This was the part I loved, because as much as she might have questioned my inner world, she probably was hesitant to ask. This project, thanks to her teacher, was a wonderful vehicle.

So did you have brothers or sisters? 

Did you like high school?

How old were you when you got married?

How come you got divorced? Were you sad?

What were some of your life highlights?

I answered all her questions truthfully, including how I felt when my sister died when she was only 11 years old. She listened intently, asking for more details when she needed them.

Little did I know that this interview was just the beginning of a project that my granddaughter would work on for a full year. When school was out this summer, she popped by with a two-part gift for me.

The first was 'The Timeline of Evelyn Hannon.' On three sheets of cardboard my granddaughter had painstakingly chronicled the events in my life against the historical events of the world. For example, I learned that the year I was born (1940 in the Dark Ages) was the same year that the Russian-Finnish War ended. It showed that between the three years that my daughters were born, President Kennedy was assassinated. And, on my 63rd birthday, Canada said 'NO' to joining the war in Iraq.

The second was a copy of her three page "Biography of Evelyn Hannon," which contained her interpretation of my life based on her interviews. I was delighted to find none of my own words being mimiced, rather my granddaughter had listened well and came to her own conclusions about what my life was about.

"Evelyn loved her older sister so much which is why it was rough for her when Joan passed away from a brain tumor at only 11 years of age. Even though Evelyn went through some hard times she still had a great childhood full of amazing experiences."

"After a while Evelyn and her husband George started to fight all the time. They separated in 1982, it was best for everyone…Moving on from George and starting a new career gave Evelyn a new perspective on life."

"Evelyn learned so many things about being a grandmother. She says it helps her to be a better person especially since she spoiled her grandchildren so much."

"Everyone that knows her is really lucky to have her in their life. All I can say is at 73 years old, this is only the beginning for Evelyn Hannon."

So, dear readers, now do you understand why this teacher gave me one of the best gifts I will ever receive?

And, most important . . . 

Huge thanks and love to my granddaughter for chosing me as her subject, for being thoughtful in her questioning, and giving me this special opportunity to share my life story with her.

P.S. She got a great mark, too!

If you liked this, check out: "Give A 13-Year-Old Boy A Camera And This Is What You Get" and "Kids Say the Funniest (Truthful) Things." 


You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.