How I Learned to Love Geometry…by ARHuelsenbeck

I met Deedee in Girl Scouts.

She went to public school, I went to parochial school. Our paths would never have crossed in elementary school were it not for Scouts.

What I remember most about Deedee from those early years is that she loved ballet, and often spent “down” time moving through her positions or practicing her arabesque.

Deedee’s family valued education. Her mom taught high school history; her dad was a Ph.D. who taught at a nearby college.

Her first name was really Cornelia. Her father affectionately called her Corn Doodle. (Back in the day, Corn Doodles were a snack something like Cheetos®.) From there, the nickname morphed into Doodle Deedle, Deedle, and, finally, Deedee. (One of her sisters was named Priscilla, nicknamed Lolly–but that’s another story).

We didn’t become good friends until high school, where we were in chorus together.

I hated math, mostly because I found it tedious and difficult. I had to repeat freshman algebra during the summer.


Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

But the first day of sophomore year, I discovered Deedee was in my geometry class. We also had lunch together the next period. We chose a table, sat down with our food, and after the first bite, Deedee opened her geometry book to the homework assignment and said, “How will we solve the first problem?”

My reaction was Can’t it wait? Like maybe seven hours or so?

But I didn’t understand something elemental about Deedee. She loved math. To her, problems were puzzles. She couldn’t wait to take them apart and conquer them.

That day set the tone for the whole year. Frequently, we started our homework during lunch. We didn’t necessarily finish it, but talking through the first few examples with Deedee helped me learn strategies for analyzing the problems. When I was stuck, she gently helped me draw figures, or reminded me of applicable theorems.

I did very well in geometry that year. And I actually enjoyed it.

I wish I could say the same for my junior and senior year math courses. Deedee was not in my classes then.

But I still use what I learned in geometry. Sometimes you have to calculate the area of something. Geometry comes in handy for figuring out how much fabric I need to sew curtains or piece a quilt.

Deedee Holt

Rest in peace, Deedee. I miss you.

The last time I saw Deedee was in 2002. My daughter and I were visiting my father and brother in my childhood home before I took her off to college. Deedee and her son, John, happened to be visiting town at the same time. We met at the Fireman’s Fair in an adjoining town.

Sadly, Deedee passed away ten years ago this month. She’d recently completed her course work toward a certificate to teach music, and was serving as a substitute teacher as she searched for a permanent job. I wanted her to move from Washington state to Arizona so she could teach in my district, but her son had just one more year of high school to go, and she didn’t want to uproot him.

The world is a bleaker place without Deedee, but she’ll live in my heart forever.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in Friendship, Math, Memoir, School and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How I Learned to Love Geometry…by ARHuelsenbeck

  1. Linda Carlblom says:

    Anyone who can teach someone to enjoy math is special in my book. Glad you had this special soul in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful that you had this special friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol Hockey says:

    Had to comment — I hated geometry! I had Mr. Barry and wound up with a D…took it in summer school with Mr. Bain and wound up with a C. A good teacher and a good friend can make anything enjoyable! Wish I had had a friend like DeeDee to help me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      I had Mr. Bain. I really liked him. He might have been my favorite math teacher.
      I also really liked Mr. Kern. I had him for advanced math senior year, and he gave me a D for the year. I was always just one step behind. I’d usually grasp the concept as we went over our wrong answers on the tests. He used to give us these four-problem quizzes every week. Miss one problem and you had a C. Miss two and you had an F. I always had two wrong. Mom asked me if I wanted to take it over in summer school, and I declined.


  5. monica6453 says:

    Hi Andrea, so sorry for your loss and her family’s loss. She was special.

    Liked by 1 person

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