My favorite teacher was a nun who left the church to marry a priest

Tracey Folly

It was one of the most romantic stories I've ever heard.

When I was a high school freshman, I decided to take French. It wasn't one of my best ideas. French is hard. Fortunately, I had a great French teacher. She was a robust and bubbly middle-aged blonde lady who always seemed really happy.

One day, I found out why.

My French teacher told the class that it was her wedding anniversary. She and her husband had been married twenty years.

That sounded like forever to a room filled with teenagers who hadn't yet been alive for that long.

Someone asked her how she and her husband met.

The smile on her face grew even more luminous. "Well," she said. "We met at church." Her cheeks blushed a pretty shade of pink. "I was a nun, and he was a priest."

Despite the best efforts of my classmates, she wouldn't give us many details. All she told us was that she had been a young nun who met a slightly less young priest, and they fell in love in spite of themselves.

They both made the difficult decision to leave their vocations, but they didn't abandon their church. In fact, they were married in a beautiful ceremony before the altar of the church where they had so recently both served. They moved into an apartment together and began their lives as a married couple. Twenty years later, they still lived there.

She said something else too. Something I never forgot. "If you want to know what love is all about," she said, "just look at my husband."

At first, I thought she meant his face. He looked good. But then I realized she meant him inside. His eyes sparkled when he smiled. He was gentle and kind.

It's not often that a woman can say that she has found true happiness. Most women have to settle for being content. My teacher was very lucky indeed.

In spite of the obvious difficulty of learning a foreign language, I loved French. It was fun to learn new words and phrases. And although I never got past the basics, I learned enough to be able to read some of those books written by famous writers whose names are known throughout the world.

A few weeks after my teacher told us about her wedding anniversary, we had a test. We took turns reading from our textbooks while answering questions posed to us. Mine was last. As soon as I finished reading the passage, I handed my book over to my neighbor. Then I went up front to get my grade sheet.

When I came back down, everyone was looking at me. I looked around the room. Everyone was staring at me. What could possibly be wrong? Had I done something bad? Why would they stare at me? I couldn't understand it. I stood there feeling confused until finally, someone spoke up.

"Your skirt is tucked into your underpants," someone hissed.

It was embarrassing, but I wore gym shorts beneath my uniform skirt, so I wasn't in any danger of being exposed.

Everyone laughed except my teacher. She swiftly used her sweater to cover me while I extricated my skirt from its precarious position. Then she lectured the class on kindness and even allowed me to keep the sweater for the day, which really wasn't necessary.

"Just in case," she said with a smile.

To this day, I've never forgotten my French teacher or her kindness, and I've certainly never forgotten the story of how she met and married her husband.

I like to think they are just as happily married today as ever.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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