For reasons you’ll find out below, today’s normal ‘Weekend Recap’ will be postponed for a later date (most likely tomorrow or Wednesday).  Saturday I lost my former high school band director, Mr. Leondar, and would like to dedicate today’s post to him.

I’ve started this post like six times and still fail to find the words I’d like to express. The obvious solution to this problem would be “Just write what’s in your heart, Mallory!” Well what if you don’t know how you feel? Sadness, obviously, but trying to blend sadness, celebration of life, fond memories, and doing someone justice isn’t always the easiest thing. In the game of “Life Lessons” I guess I failed to pick up the “Use Your Words” tool necessary for these kinds of emotions. Here’s what I can tell you. I lost a personal hero of mine the other day, and it’s a super weird thing to wrap my mind around. I lost someone who I saw not even month ago, who’s newly found retirement glow seemed to breath life back into him (not that he ever lost that element, but health issues throughout the years could cast an unfair shadow over it from time to time). I lost someone who I saw nearly every day for four years. I lost someone who made high school a tolerable place for me. I lost someone who personally championed for every student in his classroom. I lost someone who was great. I lost Mr. L.

If any of you participated in band while in high school, then you know what a close knit community it can be. A group of 300 people (5A high school, y’all) that you spend the entirety of the school year, all underneath the unofficial parental guidance of a couple of band directors. One of mine, being Mr. Leondar (or Mr. L to the rest of us). I’m going to be completely honest with you. When I entered high school as a freshman and first met Mr. L I did not understand him. Constantly exercising a use of extremely dry wit, coupled with a face that could often times be completely void of emotion (which I would later learn was just a scare tactic), I immediately went into “I’m just going to avoid this guy” mode. Well wouldn’t you know, I would get assigned to his class every year…for four years. Over time I began to learn that all of these nuances and jokes with a delivery I didn’t always understand, were lessons that would later triumph the music notes on the page I was supposed to be memorizing. I may not be able to read music any more (well, I can’t say I’ve actively tried in the past six years), but I can tell you that trying to find light in everything, and the importance of working hard towards something meaningful are lessons I took away from Mr. L. Sandwiched in between off topic and elaborate stories, often lied a bit treasure that I would ultimately collect throughout the years. The importance of using a rich vocabulary whenever you can? Got it! Or shall I say, acquired? (His “SAT Words of The Day” were either never applicable, or they were just slightly better synonyms) Or my personal favorite, and something I can honestly say I practice every single day, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late…you’re screwed.” Who is always twenty minutes early to work every day this girl? Who is probably going to show up entirely too early to Mr. L’s memorial service out of fear that it will be jam packed and there will be no where to sit? You got it, it’s me.

I wish I had told you when I saw you last, but thank you for all of the lessons, Mr. L. Thank you for being an outstanding teacher and human being. Thank you for everything.

Party on, Mr. L.

Party on, Mr. L.

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