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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This morning, I received this e-mail from the new principal of my old school:
Miss Lydia Bertaux-Bertold, whom we have always loving called 'Miss BB', died in the early hours of Monday 24 October. Miss BB had been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

We remember her as a wonderful friend and teacher who inspired our students, and gave generously to her colleagues. Her enthusiasm for life was infectious, her love of her students obvious. We shall miss her deeply.

In my conversations with her in the past few weeks, she made clear that she felt at peace with God. We give thanks for her life and for all she has done. We are truly blessed to have known her. Please keep her and her parents in your prayers.
Miss BB was smart and funny and pretty, and I don't remember anyone who didn't like her. She gave hugs, and she was better than any of the other language teachers. She taught me German in grade eight, but I think she spoke seven languages. If I recall correctly, her double-barrelled surname was the result of her father moving to France during WWII and changing his name (what's the French equivalent of "anglicize"?), but hyphenating the German and French versions after the war.

Al and I skipped class sometimes to hang out with her in her office on Graham Street, and she'd write us notes so we wouldn't get into trouble. We found out near the end of high school that she had breast cancer. I don't know if it was common knowledge, but I remember her talking to Al and me about the possibility of a mastectomy. Self-infatuated 16yo that I was, I couldn't even fathom how scared she must have been. I wrote her letters for a while after I graduated, and received a couple of replies, but we eventually lost touch.

That was nearly ten years ago.
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