I think I was looking for my photograph archives from a trip I took with my son, the summer of 2009, when I came upon some images from the end of the teaching year and celebrations with my students; specifically, my grade nine art students, our life sized sculpture exhibit and my grade seven home room.
It was that year that I invited my students to bring in a special object for our prayer table…so, every Monday, it would be the next person’s turn. It started with me…and a stone. Jarrett Alley, a former student of mine, had passed away in 1997 at the age of 13. His place in the classroom was two rows back, but directly across from the framed article that remained, for all of my teaching years, a tribute to his life.
I think I always intended to copy and pass on a photo to each student at the end of that year, but evidently that never happened!
I’m going to loop the photographs here. My students, of over thirty years of teaching, remain in my heart.
For the most part, I am out of touch with these students, so if my readers know any of them, please share.
A blog format isn’t necessarily conducive to writing on the subjects I currently need to write about. Over coffee this morning, I quickly finished up the last two remaining posts about my recent experience on the Love Art in Calgary art tour. At 11:00 I was walking a prayer around the pond with Max. And, yes, you read that correctly.
Before the hike, I sought out my father on Skype because I was feeling fragile. Dad is giving me everything I need to journey my grief, everything that is, apart from what I am giving myself…and what God is giving me. In short, Dad wasn’t available. I went to the kitchen and ate an apricot square (I should have greased my pan, or as Dad later suggested, used parchment paper on the bottom of the pan) before making an exit.
At 11:00 the funeral Mass was beginning for a dear friend in Lethbridge and I was at a loss as to why I wasn’t there. I’ve sat with that feeling all day long. And just now, sitting here, I’m no closer to the answer. The wind was a cold one from the north and on the south side of the pond, I couldn’t forge through the drift that, over the last few days, had accumulated. So, I did an about face and headed back the way I had come. That put me into the wind…and the cold lashing made my nose run and my eyes tear and then I was able to cry.
I seem to be losing women of greatness…women of tremendous influence…women who have inspired me and made me who I am. And this is a difficult thing. Because women of greatness have passed, the bones of my own mortality are being shaken and I am feeling an urgency about almost everything and that urgency sometimes exhausts me.
Last night, with remembrance of having done this alongside Gunda, I made a huge batch of cabbage rolls. I am here alone, but I made enough for ten. She would smile at this, I’m sure.
Cabbage Rolls and Apricot Squares
I know. Like everyone else, I also say, “You never really lose someone you love.”
But, for the sake of this writing, I need to say it. I considered titling this post, Losing Gunda. It feels as though we’ve lost her.
The truth is, I haven’t seen Gunda for the longest time. The last time I saw her, she smiled and her eyes smiled, but she said very little. I sent her Christmas cards. That was the sum total of it, in the physical sense…oh, but in the spiritual sense, it was something completely different.
I think one of the most surprising blessings of my life, apart from having my children, was the moment I decided to be confirmed in my church. Gunda inspired my faith every step of the way. I sometimes sat on a stool in front of her…she would grasp my hands in hers…and we would talk. She had such devotion and her devotion wrapped itself around me and never left. So many times along the way of my life, I referred back to the wisdom that she shared with me and treasured the impact that she had on my life. Gunda has always remained with me.
I am sad today that the world has lost her beauty and her light, but I am confident in the promises of Jesus. I will not forget her laughter. I will not forget her raised eye brows when she was in doubt or questioning. I will not forget how much she loved her beautiful family and her husband. Thank you, Gunda, for connecting some of life’s dots for me. I will continue to carry you in my heart for always.
Eternal rest grant unto Gunda, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.