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2014 in Review: todays

2014

~ My photo/video story of 2014 (thank you to Jessy Lee for the many hours choosing and adding music).

This year the image capturing/collecting was often difficult and the compiling into this yearend video brought tears.

On December 25th, as my family sat together for the first time since my mom’s surgery my dad, looking at each of us, my sister, Christie, my daughter, Jessy Lee, my mom, Lynne and I, raised his glass to offer a toast.

“We made it!”

Then, Dad began to cry. And cry and cry. Mom pulled up close to him and took his hand. She finished his toast. She began with the story of how she had finished his toast on their wedding day, almost 50 years ago when tears of joy had come then too.

Recently Jess wrote, the “thing I’ve noticed about grief is that it is something that comes even when death does not.”

My video this year is for my family, mostly. It is for the way my mom looks at my dad. It is for the way she has always looked at my dad. It is for the way he still reaches for her, and how he cries with joy every time one of us is happy.

And this sharing is for you, too, for all those wonderful folks who helped my family by pitching in, by listening, by checking in and mostly, by loving us steadfastly and beautifully.

Thank you.

Poet Greg Simison writes of that phone call, “perhaps this longest night of our lives, we’re all simply small children who’ve only been outside playing grownups until our mothers call us home, one last time.”

Mostly, he is right.

These past 10 months I’ve become more grounded in the stories I’ve heard my parents tell, my dad shared hiking along tails, my mom lived while teaching, life making stories, stories I’ve grown with.

Mostly, my dad was kind and told me to leave nothing unsaid. As we waited for the ambulance last March and, mom and I talked though the nights this past November, well, I’ve become more…

I am so thankful for growing up surrounded with love and with family.

I am so grateful for today.

#love

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I’m Here

(Red Shoes Series)

Saturday Afternoon at the Cabin

Everyone snoozes.

From the far room, Dad’s snore’s whistle. When I was young Dad’s snores rolled in swells through the house. Once, while camping with my cousins, Dad’s snores woke campers two sites over.

Dad’s snores are the sounds of home, the home of the youth where I turned over at night and snuggled deeper into the covers when there was an unknown thump on the back deck or the coyote howls were nearby; I am safe, Dad is downstairs.

His snores are different since the stroke, high pitched, and far away.

Long ago Dad put a crystal in the front window. It spins in the afternoon sun sending tiny rainbows dancing in circles around the living room.

I drift into sleep and forget for a moment where I am. Remembering comes before my eyes pull open or the ray of spinning light circles by. Curled on the sofa, I pull and push trying to shift away from the heaviness in my chest.

I open my eyes.

I listen to the stillness of a home where everyone sleeps until Dad calls, “Lynne, Lynne.”

“I’m here, Al,” Mom says from her single bed beside Dad and he whistles again.

I can hear the hum from the fridge and the settling groan from the front porch. The ceiling fan clicks. With each turn the four inch chain pull cord that no one has touched since the winter we put that Christmas tree up with scaffolding whirls.

On the sofa, my daughter’s breaths come in deep fresh air rasps.

The hum from the fridge stops.

Outside, a car passes by.

What will happen when I can no longer hear the whistle…

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Summer in 10 (actually 16 :)

july one

 

new york

 

summer cartoon

 

bottles

 

classroom

 

lake

 

books

 

cleaning trees

 

gnome

 

wdm

 

claybank

 

motherwell

skakespear

 

train

 

acad

 

night at home

 

 

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Story of Summer 2013 in 10 Photos

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soccer walking

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jess and danial open mic jul 2013

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les mis

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move collage

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grasslands cori

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dad hiking

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summer concert

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crazy dancing wedding

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orange

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jc team

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A beautiful summer of stories…

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Home, Always.

storytime june 2013Last week I moved out of one school and into another.

Mostly, that’s true.

However, the stories remain. I’ve brought all of them with me.

All of the resources, exemplars and memorabilia are now packed and sitting in boxes in a different building. The packing of all those stories happened in a flurry of four days.

A week earlier, 30 moving boxes had arrived. The division had said they would be able to move my things in early August; upon overhearing that news, my boys had said they would show up the last day of school and that they would bring their half-tons.

So, the pack was on.

It went rather smoothly, except that it was final exam time, report card time and the most difficult part, I really had to leave!

I had readied myself for the oncoming rush of emotion. I had steeled myself.

I was ready!

I cried every moment.

Packing consisted of simply stuffing my dearest and best treasures into boxes. I cried every moment; the kids didn’t fit into boxes, or not voluntarily!team pic june 2013

I discovered a few things during the pack that I didn’t know about or had forgotten: a parachute, 80 bouncy balls and 7 machetes. Somewhere during my focus on packing those last few boxes it seems I had come to have already wrapped-up my magic wand long before it was time to pack it away as well. Oh, our stories that had once belonged only here to our family classroom-space, now belonged too to our shared adventures and our stories, and live long in our collective memory.

Last week, I said goodbye to our graduates. Students in our cozy little K-12 family school kept stopping by for hugs and to share stories.

I cried every moment.

Soon, all 30 boxes began to brim.

That final Wednesday, the boys backed a half-ton up to the school’s front doors and we loaded the graffittied out-of-tune piano, andpiano move hauled it into the city to its new space. Sure, I had heard the well meaning words of some, “Cori, do you really need to take the piano?”

However, I’ve come to listen to different stories too. One of the students at my new space, upon seeing the piano, rested his fingers atop the keys; the piano fitting perfectly in its new smaller home.

After that move, the five members of the moving crew went for slushies before heading back. After all, we needed more time, and I suppose, I still had year-end final Language Learning conversations that afternoon.

Friday arrived and I was panicked. The staff had offered to set aside their own work and venture into my class to help pack. However, at 10:00 am a team of grade 9 & 10 students arrived. “We’re here to help.” And they set to work, without my direction and because they wanted to be there, to help me, to honour our family. A few had been there all week helping, even though there had moring team june 2013been no classes.

Silently, solemnly, as family, we packed boxes.

Around 11:30 am a community member also suddenly arrived. She and the morning team loaded her SUV. She suggested she’d meet us around 3:30 pm, saving me a return trip later that night.

I realized I was surrounded with love. I was surrounded by family.

Then, the boys arrived. I had taken to wearing my sunglasses indoors.

We loaded our vehicles. I cried every moment.afternoon team june 2013

We stuffed my SUV full. We loaded the half-ton to overflowing.

I hugged the staff who had been so profoundly supportive, and then the kids and I pulled away.

I remember several years ago having moved from my previous school to this one. I was having such a heart-missing difficult time loving this space, these kids. I really had loved my previous home. It took me a long time to love my current kids that much. Yet, I did and then, something different happened along the way. Stories. We shared stories. We listened to each other share our stories. And they became ready for me to go. Now, we are both ready.

As I pulled onto the highway and headed east, I knew that all the moments we have listened to each other, shared with each other, we have been learning to honour our own stories. These story spaces will continue! We have come to understand some of the complexities of telling, living, retelling & reliving our own narratives. We have come to understand the beauty of a trusting space that supports our sharings.

So I pulled into the new school-yard-space and we unloaded the boxes.all in one home room june 2013

Okay, I drank the iced cap that the boys had stopped and picked up for me. I slurped, wore my sunglasses as a hair band while the boys filed past me, unloading boxes from three different vehicles. Then, we headed to my house to unload bookshelves. Afterwards, they drove away, leaving my daughter and I sitting on our front steps a little before 5:00 pm on the final day of school.

They drove away, but were not gone. That’s family. That’s what it’s like when family changes homes. Sad, but we take our stories along with us. Some can be boxed, most travel with us, staying perched for hours on our front stoops, tears streaming down faces.

Home, always.

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From Home: Wondering

I am wondering how experiences shape our collective narrative. I am wondering how sharing experiences shifts our stories. I am wondering if you will wonder along with me. I’ll be wondering aloud for the next few years, join me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

317 km from home

And nowhere near centre

He walks with her

She walks with him

He listens

317 km from home

Nowhere near centre

She is my Brown-eyed Bunny-Rabbit, girl in green, three and a bit

He is my Dad, Albert, story-teller, Grandpa with sage tucked behind his ear

I hear them

I hear her

He listens

I smile. I hear the gravel beneath their feet

I pause

And snap this photo

Someday today will matter

Someday she will ask questions about

Yesterday

Questions that I cannot answer

317 km from home

And no idea of centre

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Best Gift

On December 23 my daughter and I were downtown, getting coffee. I shared a story of when I attended the University of British Columbia. My daughter was surprised to learn I had attended UBC. I was certain she knew the story, that she had always known the story in the same way the important people in my world know my ‘stories.’ I mean my students know I had attended UBC. They know I left that school one Wednesday in January many years ago with what I believed was a migraine and then spent the following three years in hospital.

I know my daughter lives the effects of the story of hospital, but I guess my attendance at UBC has become a non-essential.  And I guess she’s correct.

This winter holiday I have spent a few hours every day hiking near the lake with my dad. I spent every breath of those moments listening. One day we hiked out to the woods with a bucket of warm turkey parts, treats for the coyotes. One day my dad and I snooped around an abandoned cabin, sitting in the sun on its upper deck, watching the birds. One day we shuffled through the wet brown leaves gathered near the willows by the beach, without words, dad and I breathing in the scent of leaves.

Today, dad and I walked along the beach path I walked as a girl. We walked the beach a long, long way. Almost, it felt, until we met the horizon. Almost, it felt, until everything was clear.

That’s the way it is with dad. He is a storyteller. He is my storyteller.

This winter holiday was no different.

December 24th, after returning from Christmas Eve mass, my family began sharing tales of years gone by. Dad shared that when he was a boy, on Christmas Eve, he went to the early movie, the late movie and then to mid-night mass. His story did not strike me as odd. Dad’s Christian faith has always been steadfast. Then, mom wondered if that had been a time he had had to attend the movies alone, mass alone. This was information, a connection, I knew, but had taken for granted.

I had not been listening.

I knew my dad had been homeless, had raised himself from the time he was in grade eight. I knew he had sometimes found warmth curled in church windows, church services, with a kind-hearted family. I had forgotten how movies and restaurants and church had acted as family for my dad.

I have never before heard his December 24th story. I turned to dad and told him I loved him.

There I was sitting in my parents’ cozy home, the home they have created for my sister and me, for my daughter, for each other. The home they continue to create for us every day; I mean when my students are giving a performance or heading out for a basketball tournament, they ask if my dad may attend.

My dad is home.

Today, dad and I walked along the beach path I walked as a girl. I heard stories I had never heard before, or maybe I heard them like I never had before. Maybe I was simply ready to hear them. I know as we wound our way by the cottonwoods, both our eyes were filled with tears.

I am 39 years old. I have many more stories to hear, a lifetime of strolls to learn. I love my dad.

The best gift anyone has ever given to me is the gift of storytelling-time.

I hope I listen well enough to give the same…

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