My high school French teacher looked just like Suzanne Pleshette to me, and though she didn't share that smoke-husked voice, she commanded presence. Ms. Mayo seemed above her position, superiority and certainty her atmosphere, perfect companions to her subject.
An air of mystery surrounded Ms. Mayo; I suspected there was much more to her than met the eye but I didn't quite know what that was. She married by my senior year and became Mrs. Mull, which sounded dreadfully dull to me as a teenager, exact opposite of my perception.
Under her tutelage, I learned to love a language. Never do I remember feeling more cultured and refined than at our French Club dinner; it was there I was first introduced to escargot and coq au vin, the epitome of culinary sophistication in my young estimation.
I took a semester of French in college and don't recall learning anything Ms. Mayo/Mull hadn't already taught me. Though I never spoke it very well, French was, and remains, music to my ear.
When we went to Paris this summer, Ms. Mull went with me. It was she I envisioned as my tongue and memory clawed for words taught and learned decades prior. As difficult as it has been for me to learn German, I'm amazed how much French I've retained.
Which goes to show a good teacher can make a difference forever. Jacques Barzun said it well, "In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years."
Merci, Mrs. Mull. Il est bien fait.