The year was 1967. The place was Hillsboro Junior High School, Hillsboro, Illinois. Section 7/4. Approximately twenty 12 and 13-year-olds entering the oh-so-grown up world of seventh grade. Time to have a Homeroom and actually move between the rooms and the gym for individual classes.
My homeroom included Sheila Gleichman, a zany, goofy, sensitive, funny girl. With my last name beginning with a C and Sheila’s with a G, we were always seated closed to each other.
Seventh grade is wonderful and horrible at the same time. Being from a grade school class of about 12, junior high was terrifying for me.
Sheila was warm, open, spontaneous and made friends with everyone. It wasn’t long until she and I were chatting all day, passing notes when necessary and agonizing over math problems we neither one understood and cared even less about.
Sheila had friends in every section – she knew everyone and always had a huge smile for all of us.
That smile and adorable personality later played a role in meeting the man of her dreams. Bill Callahan. Bill was originally from out East and had the accent, making him a distinctive person in our small Midwestern community. Just like Sheila, Bill never knew a stranger.
They married and began a family. Three years later, it was fate that brought Sheila and I in contact again. Our two little boys joined the Storyteller Preschool and became classmates. My son, Ray, was a very quite, shy and withdrawn little boy. Not little Billy Callahan! Holy Moly! He was a miniature Bill and Sheila and just a riot! Everyone knew Billy and he never failed to bring a smile to our faces. Billy was a cute little boy with an explosion of energy every day.
I lost track of little Billy and the Callahans after the kids left grade school. They added a few more children to their family and I moved away for a while.
When our faithful classmate, Janine, posted of Sheila’s heart attach and subsequent death on our class FB page, the adult Sheila did not come to mind.
I saw the 13-year-old Sheila – standing in the junior high gym, wearing one of those God-awful blue gym suits, talking and laughing, saying, “I wish I could get outta here, ya’ know?”
Sheila, we wish you Godspeed on your journery into eternity. You were one of a kind and we will miss you, girlfriend.
Rest in Peace and may you now be seeing the face of God himself.