A few Fridays ago my son and I were riding our bikes home from Foothill when we saw a famous person. Okay, he might not be a celebrity outside of the Foothill community, but to us, he’s a rock star. His name is Mr. E, and if you happen to have had a student at Foothill for more than a minute, you have heard of him. But just in case you don’t know him, his full name is Aaron Edrington, Foothill’s beloved music teacher.
We were coasting down 9th Street when a helmeted, lycra clad man on a bike with skinny tires pulled up next to us and told my son he had done a great job in music class that day. “Hey Mr. E,” we both said and pedaled a bit faster to keep up with him. Turns out he was on his way home too.
“Wait a minute,” I said, “Where do you live?”
“Lafayette,” Mr. E said.
Wow. That’s a long ride to and from Foothill.
“I’m a bike commuter,” he said with a smile, and told us more. “A friend of mine gave me this bike five years ago when my daughter Meara was going through one of her surgeries. It was a hard time, and he told me to get on the bike and ride. Ever since then I ride my bike to work. It’s my exercise and it helps clear my mind.”
To say I was impressed was an understatement. Mr. E has three girls, all of whom are fairly young. I knew a little bit of his situation from a few years ago when he and his wife shared with the Foothill community that his oldest daughter, Meara, has epilepsy, and had to undergo a risky, and potentially fatal surgery in an attempt to gain seizure control.
“We still don’t have seizure control,” Mr. E said as we pedaled together for a few blocks, which means Meara has seizures every day and night. How does Mr. E. manage to have a smile on his face and bring so much energy to his students when he doesn’t always get enough sleep and has concerns about his daughter’s health? “Every day is a gift, and I am grateful,” he said. “Of course, SUDEP (Sudden Death in Epilepsy) is a concern, it’s always in the back of my mind.” Mr. E later told me that, “SUDEP can affect 7.5-17% of epilepsy patients, especially those who experience nocturnal seizures as Meara does. As it is right now, her risk for SUDEP is higher than death from status epilepticus.”
“But, Meara loves to dance and when I see how much joy dancing brings her I know we made the right decision to not pursue another surgery that would have potentially paralyzed part of her body. She’s a happy girl who loves to dance.”
After we parted ways, I kept thinking about Mr. E, his daughter, and the students who are fortunate to have him as their music teacher at Foothill. I thought about how joyful he was for his long ride back home, how bike commuting was something he embraced to help him through a dark time, and mostly, how much I have learned from him over the years as my kids’ music teacher. His courage, honesty, and gratitude all bring so much light into the lives of his students, their families, and the greater Foothill community. Thank you, Mr. E., for being an incredible example for others.
When I asked Mr. E. if he would allow me to share this with our Foothill community, he told me, “I am very grateful for the support of our school and the Foothill community. I remember that our family was incredibly cared for during Meara's surgeries and I am reminded every day when I walk into my room that teaching music is second to the relationships and meaning that I have encountered all these years at Foothill.”
Mom to: Grayson, KG, and Ruby (Foothill grad '16)
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