Yes! I loved to diagram sentences, especially on the blackboard. The challenge of a lengthy, compound, complex sentence was a thrill to my young book worm self. I loved the smell of chalk and the feel of it in my hand. What pleasure to take the architectural wonder of a skyscraper of a sentence and reduce it to orderly rubble. It was a master of the universe feeling for a small girl.
Then, one day in English class, diagramming like mad, a somber-looking person brought a note to our teacher, Mr. Clark, who unfolded it, appeared to stagger, then looked out at all of us sitting at our desk. “Excuse me, class, I’ll be right back,” he said. He returned in a few minutes, and then shared with us the news that our President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Then he turned on the small television on a rack up high in a corner of the room and we sat, stunned, some crying, as news anchors and reporters spoke and the indelible film footage began to roll.
Almost one year to the day earlier, my father had died of a heart attack. Sentence diagramming seemed to help me regain a sense of control in my out-of-control life. But after President Kennedy’s assassination on that bright, sunny day, I came to understand a very adult truth: we are not in control.
The best we can do is to buckle up our seat belts and enjoy the ride.