July 20 – so young

361/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Back in the day, my Accounting teacher told me that in life there are three definites: death, taxes and car accidents.  That hit me.  I didn’t know about any of them at age 17.  I learned about taxes pretty quickly – take home vs gross pay – pretty ugly.  Yes, I’ve had my fair share of fender benders – small accidents thankfully.  I did not experience any immediate family loss until well into my 40s.  Yes, so very rare and very fortunate but I did attend funerals prior to this.  Sadly, as a teacher, they were of my students.  I have been teaching high school since 1991 and have taught well into the thousands of young minds.  They are perpetually 17 or 18 years old to me.  Lives full of potentiality!  A lot of them feel like extended family because I get to know them as young adults since I teach grade 11 and 12.  With the advent of social media, I have gotten to keep in touch with them and get to see what they are getting up to in their lives and I vicariously take pride in their successes and when there are failures in their lives, I also feel that sense of loss.  Thus to hear/find out that these young, amazing people have passed away well before their prime was something that I was not prepared for.   The one that struck me the most was Chris.  He was in my and the school’s (Burnett) first graduating class ever.  Chris had it all.  Height, model looks, girlfriend on his arm, athleticism, university acceptance, amazing family and a wonderful and humble personality.  Always respectful to me and constantly smiling and just an all around nice guy.  This is exactly who I wanted to have as a son if I ever had a son (which would happen a couple years later).  The day that I heard that he was killed in a car accident shortly after graduation devastated me.  This was the first death of a person I had known.  It was a student.  There should be distance.  This should not affect me.  I didn’t know him that well.  He was just in my class.  I tried making the excuses but it did affect me.  He was like a “child” to me as are many of the students that I teach and end up bonding with.  He was an amazing young man with his whole life in front of him.  He has stuck in my mind.  He has forever affected me.  Yes, there have been other students.  None as young as him yet none of them any less important but Chris was that special young man.  Chris made me realize that in my career as teacher, the students that I work with will also affect me just as much as I affect them and all I wish upon their graduations is not only for their happiness but that they lead long and happy lives.  Yes Chris, you are gone, but you are never forgotten!  Thank you for coming into my life and showing me that teaching is more than just teaching – it’s about connections, memories and relationships.

Advertisements

June 15 – witness this!

326/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Has anyone said something so profound that it changed the way you think about things?  I’ve had a handful of those significant quotes or sayings and one that really hit home much later in life was what my Accounting teacher said in high school: three things are inevitable:  death, taxes and a car accident but the unknown is how big and bad it’s going to be (I’m paraphrasing of course).  That one thing stayed with me.  Let’s ignore taxes (yes, I’d really like to ignore them) and let’s not talk about death.  That leaves car accidents.  I’ve had many – but save for one, they have all been very minor fender benders!   That one though was the mother of all – I hit a person.  A child.  With my car.  One second I was casually driving along Riverdale Drive and the next I hear a loud thud see something roll across the windshield and over the roof and off the trunk.  I instantly stopped.  I got out.  I saw the car in the opposite direction stop.  The male and female passengers yelling “We saw everything!!”  I was in a complete shock.  My life as I knew it was over.  Or so I thought.   Firetruck, ambulance, police all there in a matter of moments.  Did I say my life was over?  Unbeknownst to me, the witnesses were yelling to me that they saw everything at that I was not at fault.  The boy (who ended up being a student of mine in Grade 12 – yes, another story) ran out of the driveway into the middle of the road and into my car that happened to be passing by.  If not for those witnesses, it would basically have been a long investigation looking at skid marks and my story.  Those witnesses stopped and spent half an hour of their lives to talk to the police and write their story which helped me beyond belief.  I often have thought of them for making an otherwise monumentally stressful situation so much easier.  Why am I remembering and thanking them today – because I was that witness today.  Surreally, I saw a similar incident play out only hours ago.  Instantly I pulled over to give my statement exactly because of what those witnesses had done for me and the driver of the vehicle involved with the biker who just pulled into the road without warning was my neighbour!!  She was beside herself and I remember myself in that same moment.  What those witnesses did for me to ease my anxiety is exactly what I had to do for this driver.  I’d like to think that I would have stopped regardless as would be my legal duty but regardless, those witnesses made me stop my life for 45 minutes and do the right thing just to help someone who didn’t do anything wrong even though they were behind the wheel.  Once again, thank you complete strangers for initially helping me but even more affecting me as a person – never forgotten!