When One Door Closes

As many of you know, I am a municipal reporter and columnist. For the newspaper this week I combined the two elements in my column, and though this may seem a local story, it is one that is played out across the years and across the miles:

Stone One-room School (c.1820)

Stone One-room School (c.1820) (Photo credit: origamidon)

INTRO

            “At the Board meeting of November 20, 2012, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) approved the closure of the Ruthven Public School effective June 30, 2013 and declared the school surplus to the needs of the Board.”

            The above paragraph was included in a notice to the Town of Kingsville in April along with the announcement that the GECDSB was issuing a proposal to offer the property for sale at a fair market value to a number of organizations. Yes, that is a door you hear closing.

WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES

            School closings are hard. They are hard on the children who called the Ruthven Public School their school. They are hard on the teachers and staff who taught and worked at the school. They are hard on the community. And they are hard as they close a door never to be opened again.

            The saying “when one door closes another one opens” is trite but true. The students from Ruthven will be transferred to other schools, the majority to Jack Miner, and I am here to say that the transition will work. How do I know? Because many many years ago my school was closed and I was transferred to Jack Miner Public School (at the time it was Gosfield South Public School). The difference was I went from a one room school house to what we referred to as the “big school”. The transition for the Ruthven students should not be as daunting.

            At the time I was transferred a lot of the one room school houses in the area were closed so I was not the only deer caught in the headlights of a big change. At my school, six grades were taught in one room, while the grades ones and twos were taught in the boys’ and girls’ rooms—the rooms that housed our coats and bathrooms. We were civilized though—the bathrooms were closed off from the main part of the boys’ and girls’ rooms—so the six and seven year olds were not being taught how to read with Dick and Jane, Puff and Spot in the presence of the toilets.

            I remember my first day at the “big school”. I had to take a bus to get to the school which was a scary adventure in itself. Then when I arrived at the school there was some confusion as to where to go. The newbies had not been introduced to the new school beforehand (which on reflection would have been a really really good idea). When things were sorted out, I found myself sitting in a classroom of about 30 kids all the same age. We were pretty well all ten years old, and in my class many of us were like fish out of water—joining kids whose home school was Gosfield South. I guess we were somewhat of a foreign entity, and I heard rumours later that our intelligence was in question as no one was certain if the kids coming from the one room schools were up to speed.  Speaking on behalf of my cohorts— we were.

            I do not remember the transition taking long. I liked my new school, and my teacher went to my church so that was comforting. There were quite a few of us in the same boat so it seemed to go pretty smoothly. There were a lot of advantages to going to a bigger school though I missed some of the community feel of my little school. To this day I do not regret the opportunity afforded us.

            Kids are resilient. They cope because they have to—and what is at first strange and weird becomes normal. I feel badly for the students who may no longer be able to walk to school, and be “hugged” by their tightknit community, but speaking from experience, adopting a new school is not insurmountable. Economics govern and we may see some other closures and adaptations in the future. I know if my kids were affected I would be concerned—but moms and dads, students and teachers: consider this a new and exciting adventure. It is the only way to at first, muddle through; second: assimilate; and, third: enjoy the ride.

CONCLUSION

            I leave you with these words from Anna Quindlen, from her book, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”: “I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and today is the only guarantee you get.” Enjoy your summer vacation knowing a new “today” is awaiting you.

Do you have a similar story?

I Need Your Help

Mystery

Mystery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read this to my Writers’ Group today and they liked it. I have a few ideas of where this is going–but if you want to give me any ideas I would more than appreciate it. Some of it is true, some of it is not. The part about the hairy legs is true.

 

Short Story 1

            She remembers the girl who wore knee socks and long denim shorts to hide her hairy legs. She remembers the girl her mother did not want to grow up.

            The mossy smelling countryside returned to her mind’s eye. Riding her bike down the road. Catching glimpses of the cows in the overgrown pastures, the creek full of brown water, the cars whizzing by her.  Her first freedom.  The wind blowing her long hair into tangles.

            She started riding a bike when she was twelve. Much older than most kids, but she had always been a late bloomer. There had been no bicycles to ride at her house before that. Her brothers had bikes but they were much older. Now teenagers they had given up their bikes long ago for fast cars.

            Her sister, three years younger, was far more adventurous than she was. At least in practice. She went on adventures in her head; her sister went on actual adventures. That her sister started riding “the” bike (they only had one and had to share) at nine was not surprising. A year later her sister would shave her legs, no matter what their mom said. And she would too—if a ten year old could do it—then certainly someone on the cusp of being a teenager should be able to.

            Today, as she sifted through her memories of decades ago, she remembered something that had always puzzled her. Something that had niggled at the back of her mind, but something she had shelved because questions about it had been met with icy silence. But now, she wanted to know.

            As a kid, she knew that things did not add up. But trying to make sense of certain things was stymied. It was like when she asked her dad where babies came from and he said ask your mother, knowing she would not ask her. She was very very old before she understood where babies came from—because no one at her house talked about things like that to her. Her older brothers were protective, her younger sister even more innocent than she.

            In fact, years later, her sister would complain that she had not told her about the “monthly miracle”. She refused to call it a curse—it was part of being a woman, and she often wondered why women did not embrace that part of themselves. She often heard that if men menstruated, they would brag about the pain, the duration, the amount of blood. But no, women tried to hide it, like it did not happen. Like it did not exist. Yet it was a big and important part of their lives.

          Her mind was wandering. She refocused. She remembered little pieces of conversations that would stop when she entered a room. She learned not to interrupt these conversations, she learned to stay where she was not noticed and listen. But not enough was ever said.

            Five decades later she had discovered a clue, one so big and obvious that she could no longer deny what she had felt since she was young. She was not one of them. Her family had always been loving in an uncloying way. They were not demonstrative. Hugs were few and far between.  She had always known she was loved, but there had always been a feeling of not quite fitting in.     

Published in: on May 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm  Comments (30)  
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Future Bliss

Rosebud

Like this Rosebud, I am still waiting to bloom.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write?

This is a timely prompt from lovely Michelle at WordPress, as I have not been looking forward to my upcoming birthday in April. I  have come to the realization that I will not be wandering this little place called earth for as many years as I have lived thus far. I am going to be 60 (sob, groan, ackkk!) and I am fairly sure I am not going to live another 60 years.

When I was younger, 60 was not something I could  easily imagine–and when I did, I imagined that I had “arrived”; that I had reached my ultimate goals; that I would be ensconced in comfort.

It is not so much the age of 60 itself that has me bummed out–it is the fact that I only have so much time left to “arrive”.  I am fighting the feeling that the book is closed and that my goals are unattainable, so I am going to write this letter to my sons in an effort to give them advice, and me some hope:

Dear Adam and Tyler;

As you read this, I am a vibrant 80 year old. I did not reach some of my goals until later in life, as I have always been a late bloomer. But along the way, I learned that even if I did not feel like I had been a “success” in the normal sense of the word, I reached success on many levels.

I found love with your dad; I found my maternal instincts as soon as I had you guys (it was an amazing transformation by the way as I did not know that I really wanted children until I had them); I worked at jobs I did not like; I worked at jobs I loved; I had a business of my own and learned that I would rather buy books than sell them; I learned how to be a “mother bear” advocate for you guys; I tried to learn to let go (even at this age, I am probably still struggling with that); I learned that family and friends can get you through anything; that losing your parents is rough but their voices stay with you; I have learned that success is not just financial (though it does make it easier); and I have learned that you should never give up.

As the two of you progress down the sometimes smooth, sometimes wretched path of life, keep in mind that in the end it is all worthwhile. You have seen your parents struggle, and now you see us comfortable in our own skins. Even though we are eighty, we live life as if there is no tomorrow, because as we all know, there may not be.

Live life well and fully. Enjoy good times even in the bad times. That old saying~this too will pass~is true, even though some things we would rather go away, do not go away fast enough.

You are loved, and my best successes!  ~ Love mom

I know that this letter to my sons twenty years down the line has fallen into cliché but I do not care–clichés are there for us to use–and sometimes they do the job. I am looking for my bliss today–in twenty years I am certain I will have found it and put it to good use.

What would you say to your loved ones from your place of bliss?

 

Published in: on March 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm  Comments (58)  
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