I was cleaning out a drawer and I found an essay test booklet from when I went back to get a college education in 1968. My first professor for the one psychology class I was taking as my initial course was a Hungarian refugee who had come to this country from there and was and had been a psychiatrist in the old country. He now was doing that and supplementing his income by teaching psychology at a community college here.
I adored him the moment he opened his mouth to lecture and even though he had a Hungarian accent, I was able to understand and comprehend his every thought. When the semester was over, I wrote him a complimentary note and I gave it to him on the last day of school. From that moment on our families were friends and we cared very much about each other. One day during that class, I brought my almost three year old son to school with me because his pre-school called nursery school then was closed. He looked at my little boy and said "madam I do not think this the proper place today for a little one, we are talking today about sex and psychology." I told him that he would be good and if he was not, I would leave early.
He was excellent and he sat and colored in his coloring book and played with the toys I had brought. He was quiet and respectful and at the end of the class he came up to say goodbye to the professor and at that moment he jumped into his outstretched arms and we had been friends from that moment on too until he passed on in December2000. I was invited to give one of the eulogies at his memorial service in a church in Towson. I was honored and I had never done anything like that. Imagine middle aged senior, Jewish, giving a eulogy in a church. I got up there and put my notes down on the lectern and turned to talk to the crowd who had come to honor him, friends, family and former students. What a group of diverse people, all who had known this brilliant and dear soul.
He inspired me at age almost thirty-four which in those days was 'old' to have gone back to school and earn a degree, to go forward and to learn and to enjoy the classes. I graduated five years later with honors and I even was the president of the art club made up of me and teenagers.
We remained friends and at his funeral I gave the eulogy about this wonderful human being. His name was Dr.Z.John Levay and he wrote a short book and he gave me a copy one day. In it he wrote the following " To my Star Student Elita who has earned my sincere respect because she has found herself and who, as an adult became a child again: a Child of God, by virtue of being a peacemaker." I had written a letter in his behalf because the college had not given him his full professorship due to some academic politics going on there at that time. Immediately, the college awarded him the long overdue seniority he deserved. I was proud my humble letter spurred them on to finally give him the honor he had earned.
This man was my mentor and friend and I shall never forget him. He came to all our celebrations of life, my son’s confirmation, my daughter's too and my daughter's wedding. He proudly wore the yamaka we gave to all the men at the Bar Mitzvah service. He showed me how he carried it with him all the time “in case he might need it.” He was there for me when I became a student at a late age and his excellent encouragement of my educational needs and desires inspired me until this day.
So we all can be children of God and help to inspire and stimulate and motivate others to do things they thought they never could do even at a later age. I try to that in my ballroom dance columns on the internet and I have received letters from seniors that are up in age and they have read my articles and they are challenged to go out and ballroom dance and to learn and to have this wonderful hobby to be proud of. It can be anything that one takes up later in age and excels in. At age thirty-four I was 'old' then to be a college student. Now everyone is doing it via in person or online and the world is the better for it, because educated and invigorated people are productive members of society.
My eight year old grandson Ethan, son of the little boy mentioned above goes to the third grade in a few weeks. Time flies and it seems as if it was yesterday and I was there in that college classroom with his father and the meeting of Dr.Levay.
On my first test which was an essay, I received a B which was quite good for being out of school for seventeen years. On the margin, Dr. Levay wrote"Mrs.Clayman, you can and will do better."
That line inspired me to go forth and to excel. That I did due to this professor's thoughts about what I could attain even at age thirty-four. He was what is called a real motivating educator.
I was so lucky to have him as my first professor after all those years. To encourage and to stimulate someone else is one of the finest attributes one can learn. I always revered him for the caring he showed to me.
After all these years from that winter day in February 4th,1968, a little boy almost three and his Mommie almost thirty-four had a great and awesome experience. I believe that Dr. Levay was the peacemaker, a child of God and I was blessed to have known him in and outside of the school.
Jeffrey and I were the lucky ones to have met this man and I will never forget him.