I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.
“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”
After our return from a recent Caribbean cruise, I feel compelled to share three separate events that caused us both angst and some giggles too. John and I traveled with our friends Ron and Margie, our daughter Dianna, her fiance Stephene, and our eldest grandaughter Lexi. John, Ron, and Stephene needed to take their suits for the two formal nights aboard the cruise ship. After some alterations, John’s suit was ready to go, and the other two men had freshly pressed suits ready to go as well.
On the morning of our departure we were all very excited as the limousine whisked us towards the border and Buffalo Airport. It was an hour into the trip when our future son-in-law, Stephene, grew quiet and gloomy. As it turned out his suit was left behind – hanging in the closet so it wouldn’t get too creased before we left. What to do? If we went back, we’d miss our flight. Upon arriving in Fort Lauderdale where we stayed for three days, we planned a shopping trip at the Sawgrass Mills Mall. Stephene was a man on a mission the next day when we arrived at the mall. Before long he and Dianna came upon a high end men’s clothing store and found a Hugo Boss suit that fit perfectly. Problem solved! Now Stephene could breathe easier and grace us with a brilliant smile. Continue reading “A Yarn of Three Suits”
Recently Anne and I enjoyed our third cruise in the Caribbean Sea. It was especially enjoyable this year because we left behind the worst winter to hit our area in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario in about twenty years. As we left Buffalo the mercury registered -15 C. When we landed in overcast Fort Lauderdale it was a balmy +22 C – that took some getting used to! Cruising in the Caribbean aboard Royal Caribean’s Oasis of the Seas, took us into hot humid environs where the humidex registered in the mid to high 90s F.
Ah… winter in the Caribbean! As we toured Labadee, Haiti; the northern coast of Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico I began to think about the fictional planet which is the focus of my science fiction series launching this coming fall. The planet is called Genesis, which became home to a UN selection of survivors from Earth. After their departure in the mid twenty-first century to find a new world, humanity on Earth succumbed to a sentient biological weapon. The UN mission took two centuries to reach Genesis. Continue reading “Paradise on a Tropical World?”
Today, my post reflects on the “Forgotten Ones” – the elderly who are lost, lonely, and left behind.
My Aunt Agnes (Aggie) who just celebrated her 100th Christmas, lives in a long term care home. She suffers from Alzheimer’s. Her spotty memories focus on the distant past when she was a girl, but periodically revisit more recent times. She amazed us all this past Christmas Eve by playing Silent Night on the piano – an instrument she’s not played for decades.
Her residence is home to many Forgotten Ones. They rarely get visitors. They eat, they sleep, and they wait and watch from a row of chairs placed before the nurses desk. From there they can see who gets off the elevators. I wonder if they watch in hope that someone they know will suddenly appear. Aggie stays in her room, waiting and watching in her chair by the window, sometimes praying the rosary, sometimes falling asleep.
What I find so reprehensible is that so many of these forgotten ones have dedicated most of their lives to their families and to love, only to be cast aside and left to wither away with only the fragmented memories they have left.
These words come to mind when I ponder on Aggie’s plight: Continue reading “The Lost, the Lonely, the Left Behind”
Once again we find ourselves navigating bravely through the first week of a brand new year. Traditionally, it is a time to make resolutions about positive changes we want to make in our lives. For my bride Anne and I, 2014 will go down as the year we made an enormous change in our lifestyle. Continue reading “New Beginnings – I Have An Ace”