My first recollection of Stacy Baugh was in August 1996.
I was stationed at a small table in a long hall with high ceilings at Riley Elementary School in Frankfort, helping parents enroll their students during registration.
I was eight months pregnant. It was sweltering hot. There was no air conditioning. There was no breeze.
Trying to get comfortable while sitting on the hard fold up chair was just one of my many problems that day.
Not quite into the middle of my three-hour shift, Stacy walked up the front steps with her daughter, Brittany.
She immediately began fussing, wanting to know when I was due and why was I was even there volunteering. “You need to go home, put your feet up, and cool off,” she said in that sweet voice of hers.
After registering her children for school in the office, and right before departing, Stacy visited me one last time, again encouraging me to go home.
Fifteen minutes later, with beads of swear varnishing my body and fearful I would pass out any minute, Brittany came bouncing up the steps with a tall cup of ice cold lemonade.
“Mom wanted you to have this,” she said with a smile.
I have often thought back to that day, the encouraging words to go home and put me feet up, the smile, the concern in her eyes, and that cup of lemonade.
And not just any lemonade. It was delicious, so refreshing, as if Stacy drove home, ran into her kitchen, and squeezed those lemons herself.
I also think about the wonderful lessons in kindness and compassion Stacy’s daughter witnessed that day, and how a simple cup of lemonade with ice cubes can really make a difference on a scorching, hot day.
It was therefore a shock when we all learned that the most beloved biology and zoology teacher at Frankfort High School, our very own Mrs. Baugh, lover of monarch butterflies, star fish, ferns and lichens, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
But anyone who knew would never have known, because in gracious Stacy style, the acts of kindness continued and the smile never faded.
Despite the cancer, Stacy joyfully lived every minute of what was left of her life with unbridled passion. She took care of her children, tended to her husband, taught her students, attended swim meets, spoke kind words, gave hugs, and sent notes of encouragement.
Just last June, Stacy was the guest commencement speaker for the Frankfort High School Class of 2013.
She asked the graduates to hug and shake hands with one another, adding that it could be the last time many of them see one another.
“Before you part today, tell your classmates how much they are appreciated, apologize if you need to, and forgive,” Baugh told the students. “I urge you to not waste a day or week of your life. Go out and make the world a better place. Be the change you want to see. Inspire us.”
And with that, the image reappears in my mind once again. And for a moment, I am back in that sweltering hallway listening to that sweet voice and sipping that cold cup of lemonade.
Go out and make the world a better place, she said.
Be the change you want to see!
Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.