it took until grade 10

It is August, and fall is threatening to come early with the temperature dipping into the teens during the day. The sun is retaining its heat but the air has that crisp fall bite to it. This is the first year in 28 years that I am not preparing to go back to school in some capacity. I am still expecting (and in need of) some rad school supplies. That was always the best part of returning to school, new pencils. I may just have to go buy myself some just to have that feeling this fall.

As I think about my teacher friends, and my student friends, and people that I know that are in any way impacted by school I immediately turn introspective and ponder the experiences that I have had throughout my career in school.

My passion for writing was ignited in high school. I discovered that I enjoyed creating pictures and portraying emotion in words. I liked poetry, I liked stories. It was shortly after I discovered that I liked reading stories. It turned into something that I too wanted to make. I had a friend who had a journal that was full of poems and thoughts and random ideas for stories or even very mini short stories. I started one also. I liked the way that words formed in handwriting, and as the computer took over, fonts helped with conveying a story. I may have to work on my font here.

I remember the story that I first wrote that I did well on. It was an adaptation of a true story that had happened the summer before grade 10. My grandmother had passed away and I wasn't able to attend the funeral. It was too expensive to fly me out there. And I was ok with that, she was German and I never got a soft, loving experience from her. Not that I didn't love her, I did, she was an incredible woman, and I have yet to meet someone who could whistle like her. I knew enough about her to know that she loved me in her way. She was strong and hard working. She was a role model, not the typical Grandma that sits at home and bakes cookies, she baked cookies but she was also doing a thousand other things at the same time. I didn't know much about her personal life, but I did know that she loved the colour blue and she loved herons.

I was at her cottage the summer after she had passed away. It was late at night and it was the first time that I had gone down to the dock where she had breathed her last breath. She died doing what she loved. It was ridiculously hot and she had gone for a swim. She popped up on the dock and passed instantly. It was eerie to sit in the spot where someone had died. I was waiting for some connection, some sense that she was there or not there anymore. The moon reflected off the water, it was silent on the lake. And just at eye level, silently gliding through the air, a blue heron flew right in front of me. Cutting the scene of all blue, her favourite colour, with more blue.

A tear rolled down my cheek and a smile spread across my face. It was as if she did a quick fly by to say bye.

I shared that story with my English teacher and I did well on it. I think I got an A, but what sparked it all was the comment of "thank you for sharing" written on the paper.

I was able to return the favour many years later. I found this out well after my stint teaching English had ended. A parent came up to me and said, "my daughter never was never told that she was a great writer until your grade 10 English class". I was flabbergasted because I hadn't read a more proficient grade 10 writer. It is so shocking that some people walk around with tremendous gifts but they aren't made aware of their incredible abilities until someone acknowledges them. This student could easily write a best selling novel. It is probably because she is a scientist at heart, but she is an artist with the scientific editing ability to distill meaning to the bare essentials while retaining beauty. A true biologist, or editor.

I share this story to encourage us all to listen to people's stories, and thank them. You might not know that you've ignited a spark in another person just by paying attention and giving a compliment.

That's all.

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