Mrs Linda Beckum was my great aunt. The funny thing about that was that I never met her until I was in high school and I was one of her students. I had her as my teacher for 12th grade English and she was my home room teacher my senior year. She was such a remarkable woman in so many ways.
Her wit and shining intelligence could've been intimidating but she was so kind and charming that it never was. She was a brilliant teacher that always made you feel as though you could accomplish whatever task was laid before you. She never seemed to take herself too seriously and that put her students at ease. (Everybody remember the Viking helmet for Beowulf?)
In my senior year, thanks to Mrs Sara Dupree, I competed in the Literary competition in our area for Extemporaneous Speaking. Aunt Linda encouraged me and allowed me to practice on her classes and it was such an immense help. I didn't win, but I felt confident in my attempt, thanks to her and Mrs Dupree. That seemingly small thing has helped me immeasurably through my secondary education and professional life.
I was truly blessed to know her and be touched by her influence. She will be sorely missed by everyone who ever knew her and their lives will forever be enriched because of her.
From the Leaves of Gold book that she gave me:
Do not keep the alabaster box of your love and friendship sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them, and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier. The kind things you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go.
— George W. Childs