'Miss Carrie' taught us so much more than art

November 23, 2007|By LISA PREJEAN

The remains of the solidified Sticky Tac on our garage wall bring back fond memories of summer.

Not this summer just past, but a summer several years ago. My oldest child had just started school. My youngest was a preschooler.

We were home schooling then, and I was enjoying the time with my children. I was amazed at how much material we were able to cover.

But I am not an artist, and I knew that I could not teach art to my children.

My dear friend Carrie stepped up to the plate and offered to teach art classes at my home. That first summer we had about 15 children. They'd come once a week, always expectantly, because they knew "Miss Carrie" would have something special planned.


Sometimes she'd open the lesson by reading a picture book. Then she'd ask the children what they thought they would be drawing that day.

Other times she'd give them a riddle and ask them to solve it.

Or, she'd just start drawing something on the white board we propped up on an easel. With each stroke, the kids were one guess closer to uncovering her surprise image.

Pictures were tacked on the wall. Baskets overflowed with art supplies. Reference books were displayed. Paper in all sizes and colors was available. Prizes were given for the many challenges made.

The message was clear. This was a teacher who enjoyed her craft and adored her students.

In the midst of something wonderful, it's hard to fully appreciate the experience.

I'm just starting to realize how those classes affected me. My education had little to do with art.

Carrie was the best storyteller ever. She could capture the attention of a class with an opening line and hold that attention until she wanted to let it go.

Many times I've asked myself, "How would Carrie teach this lesson?"

Sometimes I'd call her to bounce around ideas. She was always helpful, always encouraging.

We laughed a lot.

Recently the laughter had turned to tears as her struggle with cancer became increasingly difficult.

It was inspiring to see how determined she was to be faithful to her responsibilities at school and church.

Each time I'd ask how she was doing, she'd say with a smile, "I'm hanging in there."

She helped me put things in perspective so many times. It's hard to complain when someone whose week included chemotherapy is smiling at you.

She was such a good friend. We've stood beside each other on the church choir for 15 years. Recently it was tough for her to make it through choir practice, but she still came and sang with all her heart.

She never made service seem like a hardship. She always made people feel like it was a blessing for her to help.

Until the end, she was reaching out to others.

It was hard to accept the news this week that her body had succumbed to the pain and suffering.

I wasn't ready to let her go, even though I knew her time was fading.

We had talked about God's promise to his children of a home in heaven, a place where there are no tears ... and no illness.

I'm glad she's free from pain.

Yet I'm so sad that she's gone.

I miss her.

I can only imagine that she is feasting her eyes on the loveliness of her new home. She has probably already asked for an easel so she can capture it all on canvas.

Knowing her, there are a few students gathering around.

And that would truly be heaven for Carrie Bishop, my dear friend.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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