The message I am selling

2014-04-14 20.21.10

What am I selling? Well, when I first started my blog Stop the Stigma it was to get on my soapbox and bitch about stuff. You know, those who used politically incorrect words to identify people with special needs and people with any kind of mental health condition. I had followed a few blogs on various topics and the first one that stirred me to start this was Herding Cats.

I am not an expert but yes, I am an advocate and realized Stigma went a long way and I wanted to also talk about racism, bullying, sexism, homophobia and any label we put on anyone to discriminate them. And whether it is intentional or not…it is still NOT okay.

We often talk about the misunderstanding of mental health because we do not see it but there is also the misinterpretation of chronic pain. There are so many physical ailments and conditions that cause pain to people at various degrees. Unfortunately, these people are often misjudged or have little or no sympathy because no one can see scars or physical proof of the debilitating condition. So that too is included in this blog. And this latter item has touched me for suffering myself, with chronic pain, I feel supported here. I also admire these heroes that suffer so much more than me and share positive posts of support and encouragement to their readers.

If I were to choose a word of what I am selling, I guess it is awareness…creating an awareness on such issues that are important. I often read in comments, “Gee, I had not thought about that.” That is my bonus.

I never realized that I had joined a community that was so caring and the interests varied so much. Poets, writers would comment here and there and that gave me a glimpse on other possibilities to write. So that is when I started my other blog, Cher Shares. This was a place to express myself in writing with narratives and poems. I learned and am still learning from amazing and generous creative writers here to improve on what I do have a passion…writing. Thanks to interesting blogs that offer prompts to tickle my muse, I have produced more. What am I selling at Cher Shares? Nothing, really, I am just sharing with friends and WordPress friends my thoughts in stories and poetry.

I love to talk about things
that are close to me,
mean something to me,
and that is my message
at Stop The Stigma;
I enjoy writing
in prose and poetry
sharing my humble narratives
with WordPress relatives
at my blog, Cher Shares.

 

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/04/24

Submitted for: The Dungeon Prompts, Season 2, Week 17.  The message we are selling  

I’ve got your back

I have always believed that books find me.  You know when you are searching through stacks of books at a library or when you have a list of authors and the book  you want is not on the shelf?  But hey,! your eyes are drawn to the title or the book jacket of the book next to where your find should have been.  You take out the book, read a bit about the author, perhaps a snippet about the novel and you bring it home. You discover you truly enjoy this author and you read several of his or her published works. You have made a new friend, the characters in the book are a part of your life for a little while.  Has that ever happened to you?

I find that happens with people too.  Some people come into your life because you were meant to meet…there is a reason, a purpose. Years ago when I was completing my internship as a Family Life Educator, I became closer with my supervisor and my mentor.  My mentor became a good friend, a confidante and spiritual guide in many ways.  I aspired to be like her…if only a tiny morsel of her some day.  She was a very compassionate person.

When I completed my internship, I was hired on contract to continue offering life skill workshops for the rest year at this community clinic. My friend and mentor, had worked as a Family Life Educator at a private school on the hill of our beautiful city, for almost 10 years.  She wanted to take a sabbatical and complete her degree in English Literature. (I never saw the relationship with writing and English there too considering how much I have turned to writing in the past year.)   She asked me if I would replace her at the school and she would recommend me to the headmistress for an interview.

I was so excited.  I had returned to university as a mature student, graduating in a less conventional degree than our province was familiar in the francophone community, so finding work, I was aware, would be a bit of a challenge.  So many institutions were not familiar with the intensive and comprehensive programme our department that Applied Social and Human Sciences offered students especially with our rigorous applied characteristic. We had to apply much of our learning to ourselves, be in counselling if we wanted to pursue counselling courses and to take our learning to a higher level and an option to take part in the internship and be certified.  But, all this hard work was not known, hence not recognized  in our province. This opportunity D was offering me was a godsend!  A great way to improve on my skills as well as get experience.  So I said, yes.

A few weeks later, I had an appointment for the interview.  I was so nervous. I had let my punk shaved head hairdo grow out a bit and it was now a more natural colour (did away with the orange or purple) and dark blonde on a short bob looked just right.  I wore a long skirt and blazer with pumps (not time to wear my comfy Doc Martens) and arrived twenty minutes before my scheduled time.  I was so impressed driving up Mount Pleasant in my humble Renaud V…up, up, up, the steep hill avoiding the rear-view mirror as I would visualize my car flipping over backwards.  The houses around this school were like being somewhere in England with the old and beautiful  stone houses; they were spectacular!

I sat quietly across the secretary’s desk. She had a nice warm smile. I sat and admired the woodwork on the walls, the dark stained molding and started to get a bit nervous.  I decided to freshen up before the interview. The washroom was just in front of the secretary’s desk.   Final check in the mirror, lipstick applied, hair in place, I went to take my seat and waited again.  The secretary got a buzz, and that was the headmistress calling me into her office. I thanked her and turned around to walk into the office when the secretary called me softly, “Um, you may want to adjust your skirt a bit before going in Madame G’s office.”  I place my the palm of my hand along my hips to smooth my skirt and as I reach the back I feel a huge bulge! My eyes widen, my face turns white, then beet red…At that moment I quickly turn facing the secretary still wide-eyed and tug my skirt out of my pantyhose so quickly…no one could have noticed except Ms. S and me. Phew! I just exhaled in a loud whisper, “Thank  you” with pleading eyes and went into the office.

I got the position and taught social skills and sex ed.  there for five years and Ms. S will forever be my friend and saviour…her offering that very first day, to me was like hearing, “I’ve got your back!” in more ways than one {smiles}.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/04/04

Written for: Dungeon Prompts – Season 2, Week 14: Entertain with the Mundane

Love is…

me as a child 

Children are unique
in their own special way
genuine, innocent
loving, rarely doubting yours,
assuming and expectant
walking with a purpose
head up high
asking “Why?”
saturate
interpret;

adults comment
may offend,
criticize with slight
or no intent
but cause them
still
discontent
makes them question
their self worth,
turns their life
from grief to mirth
roller coaster
rides begin
games are played
don’t always win,
grieving, growing
stumbling, laughing
learning rules
avoiding fools
mentors
make them wiser
hardships
make them stronger,
perhaps
they’ll find romance,
promise and commitment
never-ending love
soul mates are for life
two turn into one,
in the end,
procreate
having children…
cycle spins again
love ensues
power fuels
everlasting love.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/22

This week’s prompt is:   What Does Love Look Like?   Check out other creative offerings at    Dungeon Prompts – Season 2, Week 12: What Does Love Look Like?

Secrets of Despair – 2

cropped-stigma-photos-mental-health2

Bless me, Father,

my last confession was many years ago

forgive me for I have sinned

I have betrayed my ********

in so many ways I am chagrined

I have abused his/her trust

manipulated and exploited her/him

I transgressed beyond Satan’s expectation

I do not deserve to receive absolution

Forgive me Father

I must pay for my sins

help me be a better father.

Amen.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

Secrets of despair

Photo credits: Souzacartonist

She listens with benevolence

the stories never told

of shame and guilt and violence

those tales so raw and bold.

A pause ensues, she hears a sigh

despite attempts to offer hope

they still may cry

the tears offer relief

some tales are just too hard to bear

she hears them in their grief;

the hardest tale of all to share

are secrets found in dark despair

forbidden truths,

unmasking lies

she holds their secrets in her heart

a first step they shall make in part

exploring some of their options,

tomorrow is another day

and she’ll be there to hear their say.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

Written for: The Seeker’s Dungeon, Season 2, Week 11. Check out other offerings as well as last week’s.

A call of hope

The prompt for this story says to  Dream Big. Wow!   I can make up a story, a poem or write about something I have always wished for.  The options are endless and you know what? Today my dream may be different from my dream tomorrow or next week. Are not dreams part of who we are?  Are they not mere escapes at will in order to survive the world in which we live?  Since this is my birthday weekend, I decided to add more than a dream and more like a celestial dream…something over the top and a dream I have wished come true many times.

My Angel Playing Violin by Blacktoner

A call of hope

Dawn tilted her head as she listened to the other teen at the end of the line. Let’s call this caller Gabriella.   “I can’t take it anymore,” she wept, “My father is coming home in a few hours and I know he’s going to…you know….”she sobbed softly.  Dawn could hear the fear in her caller’s voice. She was barely a teen, her mother died last year .  Gabriella had no one but her father now.   He’d started drinking heavily after his wife died.   She had an auntie and grandparents but she was too ashamed about what “they did” that she did not dare ask for help…until tonight.

Dawn listened, and tried to reassure her caller.  She  asked her if she could go to her auntie’s house for the weekend and it would give her time to think about what she might want to do later.    She encouraged Gabriella to call the youth line again from auntie’s house.

Dawn waited…there was a long pause.  “I guess I could go but he won’t let me stay overnight usually because, ….well, you know…”  Dawn thought about that for a moment and did something she has never done before. “Go to your auntie’s right now. It’s just a short walk.  Bring a bag of clothes for 3 or 4 days and once you get there, tell your auntie your father gave you permission to stay over.”

Gabriella interrupted, “But I already told you!!! He will be angry and he gets violent when he gets mad. He’ll just pick me up there and drag me back home. I’m too scared to do that.”

Dawn repeated softly, “Sweetie, I know you’re scared. You are a very brave girl. You reached out here tonight and took a chance to tell someone about your situation. I get it. And you know what? I trust that you can do one more brave thing and that is to go to your auntie with your bag of clothes. Leave a note on the kitchen table saying your auntie needed you to babysit and help her with the children for the weekend. Then call me as soon as you get settled at your auntie’s. Is that okay? Call back here and ask to speak to Dawn.”

The caller hesitated and then said, “Okay, if you say so. You will be there when I call back?” Dawn reassured her that she would. They disengaged.

Dawn then went into the quiet room where counsellors often went to unwind after a difficult call.  She shut the lights, put on her “special music” her smart phone, lied down on the comfy couch and put in her ear buds.  Soft angelic voices hummed softly, followed by a violin crying melodiously and Dawn could feel herself drift off.  Her soul seemed to lift from her body and float above her for a moment and then it floated away.

Gabriella hurried to pack her bag and walked the 4 blocks to her auntie’s house.  As soon as she walked up the steps, her auntie opened the door as if she were expecting her.  She said, “Hey there, Gaby, I was waiting for you. It’s so weird. I fell asleep a few minutes when I put Jimmy to bed and had the weirdest dream. You were crying out to me running away from a monster. It was the scariest thing.”  She hugged her niece warmly. “Well, come in sweetie.”

Gabriella’ father arrived home and shouted out to his daughter but there was no answer. He looked around the living room, went to Gaby’s bedroom and then came back to the kitchen and saw a note on the table. “I’m staying at Auntie Sue for the weekend or maybe longer. She needs me to help with Jimmy and the baby, Gaby”

He was fuming with rage.  He threw the table against the wall.  Suddenly,  he heard a strange sound, a violin a woman chanting;  then he saw his wife! But it couldn’t be.

She floated right through the living room wall.  The music continued and this apparition that resembled his wife  floated up closer to him.

“William”, the apparition said. It was not the voice of his wife but her face was so, so, lovely! His wife who he missed so much was here.  The voice seemed harsh at first. “William, I have an important message. Sit down and listen. I will only say this once, so pay attention.”

The voice spoke of the Great Spirit of slipping to the other side and consequences.  It was a long speech and although he was scared there was something peaceful about it.  As the apparition slowly lifted, the strings of the violin intensified in a melody that wrapped him with intense emotions fear, guilt and wonder.  He wept for the first time since his wife died, and wept and wept.  Then he called his sister-in-law.

Gabriella couldn’t believe her ears!  Her auntie gave her a message from her father.  She was so surprised.

Dawn heard a knock at the door of the quiet room.  Her colleague announcing that her break was finished and time to get back on the phones.  She stretched and could not help feeling tired despite her nap.  She felt like she had run on her usual 6 K run on Lakeshore.  She rubbed her legs and went to her workstation.  The phone rang, “You’ve reached a counsellor, how can I help you?”

“Hi, Dawn, I have a caller who says you told her to call back, let me patch her through.”

“It’s Gabriella. I’m at my auntie’s like you told me to do. And the strangest thing happened. My father is going to rehab and will be away for a few months. He said we’ll talk about my staying with Auntie for good and maybe he’ll just visit me for a while instead. Isn’t that strange?”

Dawn smiled, nodding gently a tear running down her cheek.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/08

Written for:  The Seeker’s DungeonThis week’s prompt is  Dreaming Big  (running from March 6 – March 12) Click here to see what other writers have contributed to this week’s prompt as well as last week’s.

The Red violin soundtrack (Anna’s Theme)

Reaping life’s rewards

This week’s prompt at The Seeker’s Dungeon is:   Gratitude  (running from February 27 – March 5)

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

This week’s Prompt is hosted by Karuna Poole:  “I was present once when Jean Wiger, a psychotherapist from the Midwest, was asked what she considered to be the best predictor of success in therapy.  Her response was, “The client’s capacity to experience gratitude.”  Later, I was taught depression and gratitude cannot co-exist.  That isn’t to say that we should feel grateful for the many ways human beings abuse each other, but rather once we have had a chance to work through our anger, sadness and fear, we can choose to put our focus on the skills and positive qualities we’ve developed as a result of having survived whatever trauma we’ve experienced.”

wpid-20130102_175917.jpgThat really struck me when I read  if depression is still present, it cannot co-exist with feelings of gratitude. I often wondered about that.  I can see how it would cloud my view on the world if I am stuck with past fears, anger and sadness.  But what about melancholy…moments my muse seems to appear as well?  I tend to dip into bouts of melancholy from time to time and I embrace them more lately so I can do some introspection and write, my new-found love, my muse. 

I have stopped trying to figure out the why or what over the years when moods dip into darker states.  Chronic pain?  hormones?  Fatigue?  Life?  Family?  Work?  {I have certainly been in and out of therapy as well in the past to help me through these journeys.}

And, if anything, my work is my salvation. I love what I do no matter how painful it is to hear some stories at times,  from my callers…I feel grateful and privileged to be in a position to sometimes, make a small difference even if it is for just a moment.

As for other reasons to feel down…well, take your pick…life situations or just plain getting the blues for a while.  Sometimes it is a blessing and the universe`s way to say, “Slow down!”   I do believe that I may have suffered for years with SAD and that half of the province where I live…with our long winters probably do to some degree. 

And when life throws a curved ball now and then, I am learning to embrace it, hold on for dear life at times; surprisingly, I am thankful for this as well. The enlightenment that follows any amount of suffering is priceless.

I often tell myself, “Thank goodness I work!”  It forces me to get out of the house in the dead of winter.  Perhaps it is also the feeling of having a purpose. We all want to feel this. Look at those who are not quite ready for their retirement.  It is a huge and sometimes painful life transition if not carefully planned. I am not talking about financially…emotionally prepared.

In the early 80`s my step-father died and it crushed my spirit. He had been given 3 months to live after his diagnosis and he actually died 3 months later. Having a second baby made my visits only twice weekly , less frequently than I had wished;  I felt I missed connecting with him; there was so much I wish I had said to him or heard from him.  

A few years later,  I began a certificate in Gerontology offered to volunteers. Most of the students were over 65 years old. Lovely women learning how to help elderly persons more and most of them sharing, “My husband just retired and I have to get out of the house…he has taken over my kitchen” or “He`s driving me bonkers!” 

At that time I had also started doing friendship visits to isolated, lonely older persons and by the end of my certificate I was hired as a personal support worker in home care. I remember visiting this man who was in his 60’s, dying of cancer.  I loved sitting with him, hearing his stories.  He was an advocate for our small English community and taught me to be a bit of a shit disturber if I wanted to make some changes. He counselled me in my role on school and parent committees. I followed his advice and started a school daycare learning the school board policies and educational laws providing this right for hard-working parents seeking a good place to have their children go after school. This man just warmed my heart and filled me with so many ideas.  He had fought to get English Catholic services available in our town twice weekly including Sunday school for the children.  He was a devout Irish Catholic and I grew so fond of this man.  I was able to listen to him when he wanted to talk about dying since he didn`t want to worry or hurt his loved ones. I was blessed having this privilege to be by his side during these times I had missed with my step-father. 

The universe provides so many opportunities to fulfill our needs!

One day I was at Sunday mass and had not been for weeks and weeks; the priest was at the door welcoming parishioners and made a sarcastic remark, “Well, it is nice to see you pay us a visit today.”  I knew this priest had been summoned for almost a year by the man I had visited. This man waited and waited, needing to share his thoughts, pray with him and lighten his soul. But never did that priest go…in fact a priest from another French parish made visits to sooth this dying man. I was privy to all of this. I have been blessed with this man`s trust as he shared his fears, prayed as I listened and held his hand many times.

And so my tongue was a bit sharp as I smiled, tilted my head to the side and said, “Ah, yes, I have missed many Sunday obligations, haven`t I now, Father. But you see, I have replaced them with visits of compassion these past few months visiting a parishioner you well know, Mr. ***.” To this response, he blushed, forced a weak smile, and I sauntered to the front near the altar to sit with my two children.  

I am so grateful to have met this lovely man who inspired me just at a time in my life I was searching for my purpose . I am thankful to have met him and that he accepted my presence on his last passage. That was the start of my journey on my path in learning, exploring, discovering and getting my degree eventually to work with people full-time.  I am grateful to have started a second rich and rewarding career, blessed having the opportunity to reap life’s rewards.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/02

Death of a loving man

Seberg / Belmondo. À Bout de Souffle. ‘60.

Photo credits:  Seberg / Belmondo. À Bout de Souffle. ‘60.

I chose the death of Fred, my step-father to share my first experience with the darkness of grief, feeling a huge loss that left me empty for almost 8 years.  There were 2 deaths that marked my life the most…as a child my grandfather and as an adult at 31 when my step-father died.

We live in a culture that is uncomfortable with death. We don’t even say the D word, now do we…much?  In the 70’s we heard of Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross talk about the stages of grief and initially at that time, she was observing people who were diagnosed with a terminal illness.  The stages at that time were in relation to a process when faced with dying and death as in her book On Death and Dying: the Five Stages of Grief, first published in 1969: The Shock, denial, anger,  bargaining, depression…then acceptance; but negotiating/bargaining,   for example  would make more sense when we put in perspective someone who is negotiating with their creator, “Oh, G-d, are you sure it’s really my time? Maybe there is one more procedure…one last try…test…”  Kubler-Ross theory  was followed by so many people including professionals, throughout time up to about the mid or late nineties.   

I remember when this book came out.  It was  like THE gospel, the apostles’ creed of sorts; and although helpful the order of stages, at that time, confined many to feel they were not grieving “adequately” if they skipped a stage or if it lasted too long.  How can one measure one’s grief compared to another? 

Thank goodness in 2002 I joined a bereavement support agency (Bereaved Families of Toronto)  as a professional advisor helping youths grieve the loss of a sibling or parent. In my training, I felt so relieved when the grief counselor and professor at York University said, “Remember all those stages you learned in the 70’s and 80’s?”  We all bobbed our heads like good students. “Well, you can throw that out the window now.”  And a sense of relief came over me. What he meant was I was not tied to a set order of stages…the burden was finally removed.  No ONE was set to fit into a see through jar so everyone could evaluate if they were grieving right.

I remember when my step-father died in the summer of 1982.    My mother had not really accepted her loss until about a year or so later.

It was quite simple. Mom always said she felt his presence even when she went to bed at night. “He is right next to me each night. I am not lonely because he has never left me in spirit.”

I believe this is, on some level to be true. A year later, it was as if she suddenly woke up…her grief turned into a violent rage.  She had a difficult time dealing with this time…angry that he left her, angry that she was really alone. It was difficult on so many levels. Being a woman of that generation, born in 1926, strict Catholic upbringing…good girls do not get angry…must comply…accept.  Good thing they added “guilt” as another stage or emotion one feels with grieving. A good Catholic female knows how to feel guilt real well!

In a way, this stage of her grief was unleashing a very angry lioness.  Before it became liberating, it was quite frightening for her.  Many professionals and family to her she was experiencing a delay or complicated grief.   It was not delayed …she was simply grieving in her own unique way and in her own time. 

Thereafter, she felt much sadness, guilt and fell into depression. It was in spurts…not all in one shot since my children were young and she was often with us. I think the children eased the pain…made it more palpable. I hope so.

I had been exposed to death as a young child but children under 7 do have the same concept on death, developmentally they just cannot understand abstract thinking, only concrete. (Children and Grief by C.L. Roberts)

My step father was my first loss that I truly grieved a long long time…many years thereafter.  Perhaps the process was longer as I could not grieve all at once…I mean, I did not have the freedom to feel my sadness and emotions when I was with the children…they were so young both one and 4.  So it was only when I would go for a bike ride, a drive somewhere or long walk that I could be alone with my grief.

I loved him as my father…more than my father…he was good to me and loved my mother with so much affection and admiration that I loved him more for that.  His love took Mom out of her depression, I think for the 13 years they were together.  She made him fill with wonder, his eyes smiled at her always.  They both came from dark places, having suffered broken hearts, undeserving anguish.

You  know that GaGa look you get when you first fall in love?  My mother had that look for him …always!  Of course when I was 17, it made me sick…thought she was so silly and making a fool of herself sashaying around, flirting and all.  But as a teen we knew very little about love, sexuality and sensuality.  We think it is reserved for the young and firm bodies only.  Well, of course I learned differently as I matured but back then, my mother and my step-father were such an enigma.   I still was in awe at their love…that current of love waves…I say this because it was not electric…they did not have a hot, sizzling love affair but a warm, loving relationship…like warm, soft mellow waves wrapping them together, soothing, nice, sweet, calm and safe. 

She always loved him even into her dark illness of dementia…she would often still call out to her third husband, Fred.  Perhaps in her dementia, she is comforted with spiritual visits from her love, Fred.

Death of a loving man

(Tanka)

A true Love Story.

Two anguished souls mend their hearts.

Affectionate love.

One day his body failed him.

A part of her died with him.

 

**************

 

I asked a favour of the Lord

to have his life extend

until my daughter walked.

She still was only 8 months old.

 

****************

 

He was given three

months to live

when he left the hospital

so he could die at home

but, he stopped at the court house

to marry my mother officially

and ensure she would be secure

with his military pension as his widow.

What an act of love!

He sent her off to a ten week course

Assertiveness and building self-confidence.

He wanted her to be strong,

be able to stand on her own

and stand up for her rights

when he no longer would be here

to stand up for her.

What an act of love!

My daughter and I were visiting one day

Fred was lying in a hospital bed in the living room

resting and admiring my youngest child.

She crawled on her knees joyfully,

then up she stood so suddenly

and walked towards her grandfather.

Eleven months she was, and walking now.

my feelings were so bittersweet

I shed my tears of fear,

because her walking meant

his death would soon be near.

 

One night I felt I had to see

him one more time

And on my drive a bird hit…smack

the windshield of my car

I knew then, his time was near.

 

I told him for the very first time

I whispered softly in his ear,

“Don’t worry, Fred, I’ll be hear

and watch for Mom. I love you.”

He died that night in mother’s arms

I’m sad I did not tell him more

how much he meant to me.

 

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/21

Dungeon Prompts – Season 2, Week 8: When did Death Become Real for You
 
 
Related article:  Youth and Grief (Ntouch-Alecoute)

Teachers’ Appreciation Day

me sidewaysI am a bit late in submitting this and I have only listlessness to blame. First day of my long awaited vacation I am spending NOT on balconville but pretty much close to le balcon. 

This is humbly written (because I don’t write as many real poets I know) but it is from the heart.  If it were not for some amazing teachers I had growing up, I may have slipped between the cracks. I do appreciate this difficult vocation because I do believe that it is a vocation for good teachers who go beyond their mandate. And yes, many do. I only worked 5 years teaching a very easy course and could not believe the work involved to keep courses alive and students engaged but that is what you need to do…keep them engaged.

I am sure you all can remember a teacher or two (I’ve had more) that inspired you and mostly that believed in you. So here are my thoughts…

Dear Teacher,
without your guidance I’d not be
here writing any form of poetry.
You taught me my ABC`s
and how to write with ease
entrenched a love of word
my nose so often in a book
I did not know I could afford
to have become so hooked.
Arithmetic, geography,
literature and history
opened my mind to the world
except for algebra and geometry
I did not seem to catch on fast
until university
where a humble math professor
with immense serenity
unassuming and patient…
a quality math teachers
could benefit in the future…(hint)
I breezed through with an A minus!
I learned much more from you, Teacher
but it was still sown in academia
whether you were French or Latin teacher,
Physical Education or Drama..
you inspired and moved me to awe
encouragement and self-worth
filled me with determination
stirred such an inspiration
and allowed me to believe
in me… and not give up
you sealed my fate
a long time ago
today …I can`t seem to satiate
my thirst and hunger for truth…
knowledge and understanding
of life by examining, exploring,
investigating, discovering
realities about humanity
probing with curiosity.
Dear Teacher,
many years ago
you lit a flame
that`s still aglow .
So on this Teacher`s appreciation Day
I thank you all for filling minds
and mostly rousing souls…
stirring them to reach their goals.
Thank you evermore.
© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/02/14
 
PostScript: I just noticed a prompt at The Seeker’s Dungeon and I think this would qualify as a good contribution as well to who has inspired me to be the person I am today.

Le `tit vieux du Manoir Merveilleux

Source: Pinterest

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

Season 2, Week 6, Dungeon Prompts this week, Purpose and the Art of Holding Back 

Le `tit vieux du Château Merveilleux
Le `Tit vieux était si mal compris et sérieux
allons voir ce qui se passe dans son milieux
Ah! vous ne saviez pas qu’il était si généreux.
Écoutez! voici une histoire d’un homme merveilleux
Je vais vous présenter monsieur Elphège Vielleux.

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Maître  Elphège Veilleux died suddenly. He was a recently retired corporate lawyer. The village were mourning such a generous and wise man. He was only sixty-two.  They say he had an aneurism. That is supposed to be quick death…not too much suffering except, of course, for the survivors. What a shock! Such sadness and harrowing grief due to this unexpected ending!

A few days following the funeral,  Notaire Bergeron requested the presence of Iréné Veilleux,  the only son of Elphège. He was 33 years old and still never worked a day in his life. He had been kicked out of 5 private schools, 2 universities and had been in and out of 8 detox centres.  He was currently trying to fight the battle with his heroin addiction.  He thought to himself, if he can settle his father`s estate soon enough, he had good intentions to get into a private clinic in Magog, La Façon d’être.  He had spoken to his father about this last month. “If only he were still alive to see him succeed…IF only he could this time.”

The appointment of the reading of his father`s will was two o`clock and Iréné arrived just a few minutes early.  The receptionist offered him a cup of coffee and led him to the board room. Iréné was confused. “Why must the meeting be in such a big room when he was the only beneficiary?”

He took a place near the head of the long oval cherry wood table. He heard people arriving at the front of the office and looked towards the mahogany doors curiously.  The double doors opened and he was surprised to see so many people in the waiting room.

Madame Champagne, the village librarian, monsieur Desrosier, the accountant, mademoiselle  Gagnon, the head nurse at La Maison Renaud and monsieur Pierre Antoine Colbert but everyone called him PaCo, the former groundskeeper of Elphège Veilleux`s estate. He lived in the cottage behind le manoir.  Iréné was a bit surprised to see PaCo arrive.  He was in his late fifties but he had not aged well; arthritis had ravaged his body.  He had been with Elphège since he was a child. His mother was Elphège`s gouvernante and raised PaCo in the old carriage house.  There had always been an understanding that Paco could stay in his humble but comfortable loft for as long as he wished.  He was a bit of an enigma to most here.  No one knew where he went every afternoon returning at twilight.

His stride was shaky, shuffling towards the nearest chair, he was the first seated and the others all took a seat.  Monsieur le notaire took his place and advised he had very little to say, “Monsieur Veilleux has recorded his last Will and Testament on this video, a copy is in all your envelopes along with necessary supporting documents as well.  Allons-y…”

The video commenced: Monsieur Veilleux is seated in the carriage house in an overstuffed arm chair…

“Bonjour mes chers amis…mon fils, Iréné. Comme vous voyez…I am a humble man.  I was born in a privileged environment with little needs but those who know me well, I have always worked hard. I love this village and if you are viewing this video, I have already taken off to new territories; hopefully I will be joining ma belle et douce Alys; perhaps I will also meet with maman et papa  who taught me to respect nature and human dignity. I have tried to do both.  The orchard is not as vibrant as it was but it has managed well enough to offer work to many in the village.  For that I am pleased.

During the ice storm several years ago, I was fortunate enough having 3 generators and welcomed many of you wonderful people in my home.  What a learning experience mother nature offered me.   That entire month co-habitating under difficult climatic circumstances was a turning point for me. You were privileged in one sense, being in college outside the triangle that got hit from this ice storm.  I had forged closer relations with some of you who are here today.  For that I thank you. Merci mes chers amis…you have blessed me with a gift that is priceless …the gift of purpose.

Voici, mon cher fils, I want to offer you this wonderful opportunity…you have no idea how enrichissant it feels to have such a blessing and here is my offering to you with love and hope that you grow with this dowry.

Iréné, you have struggled since the death of Alys, ta charmante maman; you were so young.  A boy at eleven still needs the love and comfort of sa maman. Since then you left me, your family, your friends and followed your own path and got lost along the way. I only hope you are here, present, as my friends are viewing this last discourse I share with you.

Sometimes when a person is lost in obscurity he finds himself in the clutches of des esprits douteux.  For you, it has been the spirits of the mind that robbed your will. You did not know that addiction was the poison of your forefathers.  Alas, yes, and this poisonous concoction disguised as a healing cocktail turns into a possessive demon…who robbed me of my son and deprived you of living.  I know you have suffered and still ache, mon fils.

I am turning le Manoir Merveilleux into a halfway house for men and women recovering from addiction.  I have more space than I have ever required and since the ice storm I have been exploring opportunities to develop my purpose in the days remaining in my life. I have visited Le Virage and la Maison Foster and mademoiselle Gagnon has helped me in this research, educated me more on the wrath of addictions and the long rehabilitation required to remain sober.  I never realized how difficult this could be. I always assumed you did not have enough willpower or that I had spoiled you too much and somehow I had enabled you.  Pardonne-moi, mon fils, I was so ignorant.

I learned that many font des rechutes, relapses as well. So I asked my friends to explore this more for me. Madame Champagne headed the research.  We found that when a person who had the support of loving friends and family,  had more chances in succeeding but what seemed to be a stronger influence was having a sense of purpose.  The strongest motivator seemed to be purpose…un raison d’être was key to maintaining sobriety.  Perhaps it is not the only source of success but I am willing to wager it may be what the doctor ordered for you, mon fils.

Paco will be the Clinical Director.

Iréné gasped and almost spilled his coffee on his lap. The villagers listened but did not seem as shocked by this announcement.  Paco lowered his eyes and stared at his hands waiting for his childhood friend to finish his discourse. He was saddened by this great loss…a brother in so many ways and his confidant.

“Paco has a PhD in psychology as you may not have known and has been the psychologist at the Cowansville Correctional Insititute for the past 25 years working the evening shift;  in 1998 I asked him if he would consider getting his certification in addictions and I am pleased he seemed as interested in this field of study as I did.

Paco is a humble man, Iréné. Do not judge him by his modest living and scruffy attire. He wears the same outdoor garb when chopping wood or raking the leaves, that belonged to his father who died not long after your mother passed.    He says it brings him closer to his father`s spirit.  He maintains the grounds at his insistence for he says it frees his spirit and feeds his mind. We already have students who come regularly to maintain the grounds who are part of another programme I have set up for aspiring college students. When they complete their high school, I will cover their tuition fees IF they succeed in their studies for a total of 6 years. Education is a free pass to life, my son.

Paco has always lived in the carriage house where he was raised and it is with great humility he accepted to take his place in le Manoir.  The carriage house is being refurbished and all latest digital instruments helpful in pursing post-secondary studies will be installed along with updated furnishings.  This will be your new home, Iréné, once you return from La Façon d’être. I am hoping you will try one more time…giving sobriety a chance.

When you return, you will have access to an addiction counsellor and group support in le Manoir anytime.  You will be given a list of chores you are required to do as all the residents do at this new halfway house.  Once you have completed your term here, you will have access to the carriage house as your new home for as long as you wish.   I have set aside funding for you to eventually return to academia.  The mind is a precious gift one must not waste…you are privileged in so many ways, mon fils. I hope you will benefit from this opportunity.

I have one stipulation for you, mon fils, if you wish to continue receiving the monthly allowance from your trust fund, you must volunteer a minimum of 10 hours a month in a non-profit agency that offers support to children, youths, men, women or  families in need. Once you find your “calling” PaCo and mademoiselle Gagnon must approve the organization and will be your advisor/mentor along this rich journey.

I will always be with you, mon fils, in love and spirit.”

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/08

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I started writing a story about this prompted image and along the way another prompt from Dungeon Prompts this week, Purpose and the Art of Holding Back  was on my mind and it slipped into the theme of this story.  I thought to myself, Well, that is sort of cheating, isn’t it?  But I don’t write many narratives or poems on this blog and I thought this would be an appropriate contribution. I hope you enjoyed it, Cheryl-Lynn.