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Travels With Maggie: A Surprise Visitor

By now, surely, you know how this works: you pay us a visit, any day you choose, right around eleven a.m., we leash up my two dogs, Maggie and Toby, and we take a walk, from the mundane to the sublime. Each walk begins where our driveway pavement ends and the wonders begin.

Maggie is ready to go on another adventure!

Maggie is ready to go on another adventure!

It Was a Day Like Any Other Day

Meaning overcast, this being Olympia, Washington, in the spring, temps in the fifties, and for this walk, gratefully, there was no rain. The dogs were reasonably well-behaved on their walk, not barking too much, quite content to smell items of interest and soak in the ambiance which is our neighborhood. Only twice did Toby tug on the leash, hoping to chase a squirrel. Only once did Maggie want to stop to roll in the gravel, satisfying some sudden itch.

We briefly visited with the regulars, those people we see on most of our walks, and treats were dispersed for good behavior.

We had just turned the corner on our block, close to home, when I noticed a car parked at the curb of our home. I did not recognize the car, but I certainly recognized the driver as she stepped out of the vehicle and approached us with a smile. She was carrying a box in one hand and a dreamcatcher in the other.

I had known her as Misha nearly thirty years earlier, the first meeting, me a Social Studies teacher, her a budding 7th grader. At that time she was painfully shy, her parents immigrants, her English awkward, her confidence nearly non-existent. Today she goes by Michala, forty-something, married, children, and carries herself with confidence borne from the experience one gains from taking on life’s challenges and coming out the other side victorious.


We didn’t hug at first, that being the norm for these pandemic days, but we smiled and exchanged pleasantries. She is a beauty, make no mistake in that, a mature woman who radiates calmness, happiness, and love. She has witnessed ugliness. She has experienced pain. And she has risen above it all, found the love within her, and that love has carried her to this time, this place, her own serenity garden growing wherever she goes.

I showed her the house, the improvements we have made, invited her on a quick walk around the block, the dogs much too excited to allow us to just sit and talk, and then we arrived back on our front porch, a fine place for catching up on the years.

I would be hard-pressed now, a couple months later, to tell you the details of our conversation. They were the odds and ends of life, minutiae we all share in similar conversations, filling in gaps, smiling, laughing, and besides, because of social media, we knew quite a bit about each other, so a full retelling of the past thirty years was not necessary.

Catching up on old times on the porch

Catching up on old times on the porch

The Familiarity of Old Friends

It’s an interesting phenomena, when two old friends come together, separated for many years by time and fate. There is a comfort in it. There is no need for forced conversation. There is no need for small talk, or breaking the ice, or any of the tiptoeing strangers do upon meeting. It’s as though those two old friends had never been separated by the years. They cover themselves in the familiarity. They snuggle under the covers of safety, the type of safety one can only feel when with a person totally-trusted.

I have always felt that with Misha. She is a solid person, rock-solid, her character like granite from a quarry, and yet her heart is soft, gentle, overflowing with love for others, willing to ignore the pains caused her by so many, willing to embrace her fellow humans, do her part to spread love. Even though she was the student, back in the day, and I the teacher, I sensed, even then, that she would be a friend of mine when her spring became her summer, when my summer became my fall. I gravitated to her then, I gravitate to her now, a kindred spirit, a wanderer in search of the mysteries, and answers to those mysteries, scars showing, the scars of living, the scars of interaction with others, a frailty just beneath the armor, and despite the many wounds, a willingness to try again, to once again open the heart and allow others inside.

The Dogs Know

They always do. I’ll never understand how they do, but they do. With people they trust they are instantly at ease, and so it was with Misha. They sniffed, they accepted the backrubs, and then they laid down, content in their knowledge that a friend was among us, a friend who could be trusted, a friend their owner cared about. They allowed us our conversation, no interruptions, no further need to be the wheel’s hub. And I have no doubt if many years passed, and Misha was to appear again, they would instantly embrace her, for dogs do know.

Time Marches

The time went much too quickly. She had to drive to Seattle, help her brother, the whole point of the roadtrip, Spokane to Seattle, five-hours of driving, to help when needed. But before she went to her brother’s home, literally a straight shot on I-90, Spokane to Seattle, she detoured, easily adding another two hours to her journey, one hour to Olympia, one hour north to Seattle, to see an old teacher of hers, to join him on a short walk with his dogs, to catch up and to bask in the warmth only true friendship can provide.

I was touched then. I am still touched today.

I don’t have the words. It is a remarkable gift, teaching. It never stops giving. If you are a teacher, the profession continues well-past retirement. Students you cared about, back in the day, become adults you care about now. And, despite their busy lives, their children and their jobs and their spouses, despite the constant struggles of adulthood, the creditors and demands and concerns, a handful of them remember their old teachers, and if you are truly lucky, if the gods are smiling upon you, if the stars perfectly align, a few of them will reconnect, stop by, catch up, and confirm that teaching just might be the best damned profession of them all.

We hugged when it was time for her to leave. We hugged hard, perhaps hoping to trap the feelings of friendship and comradeship and caring inside of us by sheer strength. Perhaps we senses it might be a long time until the next visit, if at all. My beautiful student sat down in her car, looked back at me, and held her hand to her heart as she looked at me. I did the same.

No further words were needed.

I had been there when she needed me, the shy, confused, frightened, lonely 7th grader, looking for an adult who understood, an adult who only wanted her to discover her best. And she was there for me, many years later, an old man needing the connection with the past, needing a reminder that his life had meaning, that what he did counted in the cosmic pattern of life.

Toby tired after the walk

Toby tired after the walk

Thanks for Joining Us

This walk wasn’t so much about the dogs as it was about life, friendship, and love. I hope you didn’t mind. I promise to bombard you with doggie love next time we meet.

You can find us most every day, me and my two dogs, where the pavement ends and the wonders begin. Join us! We would love to get to know you better. Just be prepared for a lick of the face, from the dogs, not me.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 18, 2021:

We had a wonderful time, Brenda. Thank you for joining us.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 15, 2021:

That was a wonderful write!

I'm so glad she went out of her way to stop to see you.

You must have been a great teacher with a caring heart.

It amazes me how dogs know...but they do.

I'm sure they enjoyed the company too.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Thank you Mary! It was a pleasure having you walk with us.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2021:

This is a lovely walk, Bill. It's so nice to reconnect with our students. This is one of my joys as a teacher for a long time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 12, 2021:

Thank you very much, Rawan!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 12, 2021:

The dogs enjoyed the visit, MizB. Thank you! I hope I have done what you suggested. It is a meaningful undertaking, teaching, one I took seriously.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 11, 2021:

Really I enjoyed reading it

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 11, 2021:

What a lovely story! I'm sure you've made many contributions to young student's lives. I'm so glad that one took the time to stop by and remind you of what you meant to her. I don't believe the dogs minded taking a backseat to her that day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2021:

Becky, I would say that is pretty cool. A hitching post in her drive...I love that vision. I love how well-respected she was. Thanks for sharing that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2021:

It was amazing, Devika! I still find it amazing months later. I'm so happy you enjoyed it. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2021:

It is an honor, Flourish. Exactly that, an honor, and I am blessed. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2021:

I agree completely, Gyanendra! The world needs much more of this type of interaction, just two people caring about each other. Thank you for stating it so beautifully.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on June 10, 2021:

My grandmother was a teacher in a very small town. She taught at the same school for most of her life. I remember staying with her for a week or two every summer and she frequently had multi generation families stop by to visit their old teacher. After she retired, kids would often ride their bikes or horses up and stop to visit her for a bit. She had to keep a hitching post in her drive, because it was a farming and ranching community.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

MIsbah, I love that you visited your two favorite teachers. That says a great deal about you, my friend. You are a compassionate, loving human being, and the world needs more people like you.

Blessings to you always, Misbah! Thank you for being the person you are.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

I love German Shepherds, MG! Great dogs, super protective, and loving all at the same time. Great choice, my friend.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 10, 2021:

Wow! Isn't that amazing? Your walks and such great experiences shared with us. So glad you have had such a moment. with a teacher form so man years back. Teachers often stay with us in memory and, especially if they were good to us. Taught us well and respected each other.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Thank you Denise! It touched my heart as well. I really needed to see her without even knowing I needed it.

Blessings always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Sally, I am very happy that your cockles are warm. It's good to see you. I hope you are well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Sad to say, Heidi, but I'll trust a dog any old day over a human. What kind of commentary is that for our species?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Rodric, it sounds to me like your Mrs. Harper was a gem...or still is. I hope you find her and tell her. You would make her so happy if she could hear those words from you. Or if she has passed on, you can tell her when it is your time to go.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Mr. Happy, Toby is for sure a digger. Maggie not so much, but Toby will dig to China and back if he sniffs a gopher or mole.

Such is life. We are landscaping the backyard anyway, so Toby is just helping in his way. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Thank you Dora! My reason for living....what a life...what a gift it has been. I share my joy with you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Thank you Meg! I am truly blessed for the life I have had.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2021:

Thank you Zulma! Oh, I think they still exist. At least I hope they do, my friend. I hate to think they are a thing of the past.

I hope this finds you well. Stay safe and have a brilliant day.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 10, 2021:

What an honor to be remembered by someone after all these years. It's clear that you both made an impact on one another.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on June 09, 2021:


What a joy of satisfaction you radiate through your personal sharning of being a teacher with her. 30 years ago she knew you were the kind of a teacher she needed and you knew her pain and obstacle.

Both of you possess the bond of a teacher and a pupil. That's how the world gets healed moment by moment. Fabulous sharing. Thank you.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 09, 2021:

Wow! what an enjoyable read, Mr. Bill. It was really a pleasure reading this article. It feels so good to see the connection between you and your students. I am sure, Misha is really blessed to have such a kind and wise person as her teacher. When I was a high school student, I was very close to two of my teachers. Ms. Umme Rubab and Mrs. Haleema Altaf. Ms. Rubab was my Fine Arts Teacher and Mrs. Altaf was my English Teacher. I believe both have played a valuable role in my life. I am truly thankful to them. Before moving to Spain, I went to meet them, and I'm grateful to you that you make me remind of that beautiful visit with your lovely article. I am blessed to meet you here on HubPages. Lots of respect for you, Sir.

God Bless you and keep you happy, healthy, and safe. Keep smiling!!

Sending lots of Blessings your way

MG Singh from UAE on June 09, 2021:

This is a wonderful account, a personal memory. The dog appears central to it that is simply great. As an aside I love dogs and have 2.German shepherds, intelligent as ever and ferocious-trespassers and thieves beware!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 09, 2021:

How totally beautiful. What a remarkable legacy you have given to all you touch that they would want to go out of the way to reconnect one more time. That touches my heart.



Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on June 09, 2021:

How lovely, this article warms the cockles of my heart. Thank you for sharing.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 09, 2021:

What a lovely surprise visit! And, yes, I do think dogs know more about people than we think. I've seen it time and time again with my pups with friends and neighbors. Thanks for sharing the visit with us!

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on June 09, 2021:

This one hit the feels. I imagined myself in your place and in her place. I thought of my 9th-grade math teacher Mrs. Harper. To be honest, what I remember best about her is the impact she had on me and not her name, so to speak. I loved her because she cared about us students enough to take time to each us that algebra, geometry, and physics all were parts of the same thing.

I wanted to visit her and walk with her dogs. I wanted to sit on her porch and catch up. She gave me the strength to be a good person without needing a parade to celebrate my good deeds. I loved her for that. She also started a club, a Christian club where she was allowed to pray with us and talk to us about God. I needed that.

Thanks for letting me tag along with you and Maggie this time.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on June 09, 2021:

"With people they trust they are instantly at ease" - If I see a dog weary of a person, then I become wary of that person. Dogs never lie. (Sometimes they pretend they didn't do it but not convincingly in any way, haha!)

"Toby tired after the walk" - Looks like someone was doing some digging there. The Airedale Terrier I grew-up with loved to dig holes. Up at my grandma's farm I had to fill-in holes all the time, so people wouldn't break an ankle just trying to walk around the yard.

Thanks for the story! All the best.

Dora Weithers on June 09, 2021:

A beautiful, meaningful story! Such a reconnection affirms your reason for living, and gives you more reason to make the best of each day. The dogs are a witness. I share your joy.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on June 09, 2021:

What a lovely tale of a meeting between kindred spirits and so beautifully told.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on June 09, 2021:

Hi Bill.

I can't believe I made it in time to comment.

What a lovely story. And what a mentor you must have been for her to take the time to visit you. I wonder if teachers like you even exist now.

Clearly, your desire to teach is alive and well still. Every time you write, whether it be a novel or a treasured memory, there is always a lesson one can take from it.

Have a wonderful day, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 09, 2021:

Facebook, Sha! I've stayed in touch with probably 100 or more former students. It is a pleasure watching them mature and have families of their own.

Thank you for your loving words. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 09, 2021:

Thank you Peggy! It's easy to fall into the trap of believing we have no real impact on others. This was a wake-up call for me. I did matter!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 09, 2021:

Teaching is the gift that keeps on giving, John! Thank you so much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 09, 2021:

I completely agree with you, Pamela! It's the one thing of value I cherish in my life.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 09, 2021:

OMG, Bill! I have a lump in my throat. This was a most touching visit. After all these years, how did you know it was Micha when she got out of the car? I love that she brought you a dream catcher. Where did you hang it? I've got two in my bedroom and two in my work office.

Thank you for bringing us along on this intimate reunion. We're blessed.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 09, 2021:

What a lovely gesture on her part, and also yours for sharing this heartwarming story. My husband's great uncle, who was the head of the art department at Lamar University in Beaumont, had former students visit him often over the many years. It meant a lot to him as it obviously did for you to enjoy that visit.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 09, 2021:

What a lovely walk. It was good to meet Misha. What a wonderful surprise to have a past student go out of their way to visit you. Just shows the impact you, as a teacher, must have had on her.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 09, 2021:

What a wonderful visit! The walk with the dogs is always great, but the visit surely added a great addition to your walk. I don't think much is more important than life, friendship, and love, Bill.

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