I rose from my bed in a depressed mood this morning. I kicked myself for that because when I looked outside, I beheld a glorious spring morning. It isn’t raining today! Well, that realization didn’t have a long lasting impact on my mood. As we ate our breakfast together, Anne and I discussed the fact that we were both emotionally ‘down’ today. We’re both worried about Anne’s aunt, Agnes Ellert – our Aggie.
Aggie is just four weeks away from her 100th birthday – June 8th – but we have serious doubts that she’ll make it. For the past several months we have been spending three mornings a week with her at her long term care residence in Kitchener, The Westmount. Aggie suffers from Alzheimer’s and we are now seeing her slip into the final stage of that awful disease. Miraculously, she still knows us when we visit – after we introduce ourselves. This past week we witnessed Aggie deteriorate noticeably. Yesterday morning she sat up with us enjoying a cup of coffee we brought her for about a half hour. Then she asked us to let her go back to bed because she was tired. Continue reading “My ‘Other’ Woman”
Sunday, April 27, was a very special day for our granddaughter, Alexis Fulsom. It was the day of her First Holy Communion at St. Agnes Church in Waterloo. The excitement and the emotion moved me to write this poem to mark the moment:
LADY ALEXIS’ SPECIAL DAY
Twas the Wednesday before – the first communion retreat
“I remember you as a darling six year old… the effort you made with me, looking into the mirror and shaping the words as I worked with you. When? At recesses of course! Those were the early days before there was any kind of assistance or special services in the schools… 1956, right? … I remember your Mom and your dear Dad very well as they brought you to school and explained your hearing journey to me and when it was discovered. They were wonderful parents and you were their all… next to God, of course… And yes, I remember how captivated I was by YOUR blue, beautiful, sparkling and gently piercing eyes, almost searching out the soul of an individual….little did I or anyone grasp why those precious eyes did so powerfully fix on the gaze, eyes and lips of the other. I remember your eyes always in their sparkle, your eyes were dancing eyes and I think from the lovely photos of you and John, they still are dancing…..”
“My rookie years taught me a great number of things. I had made enough blunders to know that excellence in the classroom doesn’t happen just because you desire it. Despite my good intentions, hard work, and innate talents, I would never become the teacher I wanted to be without the generous mentoring I received from many staff members at St. Benedict.… But the most significant lesson learned in these years came from my students. In their bewilderment and pain, they turned to me. They were not looking for pearls of wisdom that would fix their world; they turned to me for human comfort because they trusted me to be there for them, to offer understanding and support. I didn’t fully realize it then, but that was a glimpse into the heart of teaching.”
To be a teacher was always my dream. Often I would envision myself in a classroom discussing poetry and prose, and what the giants of literature were communicating to us. That was the goal for me.
This dream can be traced back to my early days in Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school in Waterloo. Often I would spend many enjoyable hours playing school with my best friend, Judy. We actually started our own library, putting the books in proper order, and then tried to sell them to other kids in the neighbourhood. I remember that we got 25 cents for each book sold.
Given my fascination with books, it should come as no surprise that my favourite subject in high school was English literature. My dream evolved once more as I set my sights on becoming a high school English teacher. With a lot of hard work I managed to graduate as an Ontario Scholar from St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener. Continue reading “A Dream Embraced”
During the previous semester my principal had unceremoniously interrupted an interview I was conducting with two parents. He stood beside me, facing the parents, and told them that I was the most dynamic teacher he had on staff. Then he apologized for interrupting and sauntered away. I turned crimson and was at a loss for words.
“Wow!” the father said as he watched my principal leave.
“I paid him to say that,” I responded, trying to recover with some levity.
“I don’t think so,” replied the mother, “my son tells me the same thing. As a matter of fact, we came in tonight just to meet you.”
Pondering this incident I wrote about in 2006, I remember posing the question to myself as to whether this demonstrated false modesty on my part. Then after much reflection on the entire journey that was my career, I concluded that I habitually viewed my actions, with a jaded eye and, therefore, myself. Continue reading “A Jaded Eye and a Mask”