Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thank you, grandpa.

Over the past few weeks, our family has experienced the tragedy of watching the strongest man we know lose his battle with cancer. I will not say that we watched him give up strength, because along this heartbreaking journey, he never gave up one bit of it.

My courageous, hard-working, devoted 89-year-old grandfather exemplified the meaning of strength. Experiencing several health complications throughout the course of his lifetime, he fought through each and every one of them. He was not ready to go, and he was determined to let the world know that. He wanted to be here, to live a little longer, and it was that desire and strength that allowed him to live a prosperous 89 years. So, for that, thank you grandpa, for showing us all what it means to be strong in the most difficult of times.

Thank you for showing us what it means to love. To love life. To love your family. To love all that you have. Your sense of pride was magnificent. In the countless stories you shared with us, you never shared any stories of regret. You lived your life to the fullest. You made your dreams come true. You did not believe for one second that life was something you should look back on with regrets, but rather look back on and realize what you want to do differently in the future. Realize which dreams you really want to follow. Most importantly, you taught us to never let a setback cause us to give up on our dreams.

In the last few weeks of your journey of life, I will never forget the way you woke from your sleep and said to my mom, “I’m hanging in there”. Hanging in there; that’s what you did your entire life, right up until the very end.

So, we will hang in there for you. We will live our lives with no regrets, so that we can tell our grandchildren stories the way that you told us stories.

Thank you for the stories, for sharing your life with all of us.

And above all, thank you for hanging in there.

May you finally receive the rest that you so very much deserve. We love you and will miss you every day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

"As children we believed,
The grandest sight to see,
Was something lovely wrapped beneath our tree.

But Heaven surely knows,
That packages and bows,
Can never heal a hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts,
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
and love would never end,
This is my grown-up Christmas list."

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and that the love of family and friends brings peace and joy to all. It is this time of year when we realize that the best gifts of all are not those placed beneath the tree, but the presence of the people we love most. We remember those we have lost, especially during the holidays, and as the song above states, no gift can heal the hurting heart. We remember them through the stories and memories shared, and will never forget the holidays that we were fortunate enough to spend with them. Thinking of Grandma Bev, who was one of the best gifts our family has ever received.

Wishing everyone lots of love, happiness, and good health in 2012,
Colleen :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everyone Makes a Difference

I teach several students that are emotionally unstable and struggling to survive adolescence and middle school. Whether it be their home life or school life, they are miserable. It is heartbreaking to see students come to you in tears, especially those that seem so strong on the outside and then inform you that they dislike being at school because "no one is nice to them". 

Middle school is a common time of bullying and pressure to "fit in". Unfortunately, these kids are at the age where "fitting in" is all they know. They do not want to be themselves, and only care about what others think. The very select few that are willing to be themselves and not be afraid of the judgment of others are truly role models and an inspiration to others, including adults. 

I was fortunate to have a fine middle school experience, but I do know several people who did not, and now I'm seeing it in my students. I hope that one day these kids realize that they are all special in their own way. They all have something unique and different to offer to this world. They all make a difference. 

As I watch my students struggle, I am reminded that all of us make a difference. No matter what we do, big or small actions, or how we act, we all possess traits that are unique to only ourselves, and no one else. I hope everyone comes to this realization at some point in their lives, and the sooner the better, because once people realize this, their lives will be forever changed.

To those who struggle in any way, at any age, you make a difference. You have something great to offer to this world, and the world would be a different place without you. Your friends, family, peers, and acquaintances, would all be different people without you. Believe it or not, you have impacted all of them at some time, some point in your life.

Most importantly, you are never alone in your struggles. There are others who struggle with you and you must always remember that. These people have also yet to discover the difference they make in this world, but at some point, each one of you will. And then, everything else will fall into place.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Special Birthday

After much contemplation, I have decided to start blogging. Here goes nothing!

Today would have been the 78th birthday of my Grandma Bev. We remember her every day, but today is a special one. As much as the day brings back the sadness of losing her, it also reminds us of the wonderful memories we were fortunate enough to share with her. On one of her last birthdays she spent with us, we all gave her a new computer. Within no time, she was on e-mail, ordering coffee (yes, keurig coffee) online, and frequently checking the local weather on I'll never forget an e-mail I received on my birthday that was in all capital letters, each a different color (and about 20 exclamation points), wishing me a happy birthday.

I often tell myself that I wish she could be here. I wish she could see my brother heading off to college, myself pursuing a teaching career, my sister continuing hockey, my little cousins growing up, my cousins' new babies (Gram's first "greats"), my dad's humorous jokes at dinner, and so much more. However, then I remind myself that although she may not physically be here with us, she's seeing all of it. She's watching happily, and with a lot of pride. I know she is with each of us every day. 

I know she is happy to see me finally "finding my place". My job has offered me a sense of happiness that I haven't felt in a while, and I know she is happy to see me that way again. I feel as if she had a part in placing me in a school with such a supportive staff, who are there for me every step of the way as I experience my first year of teaching. 

Grandma Bev was an angel on Earth and now continues to be an angel in Heaven. Although we wish we could celebrate her birthday with her, we know she is celebrating with her many loved ones up there, as we will honor her together down here. 

Lastly, to Gram--you never put yourself before anyone else and you had a bigger heart than anyone I've ever met. You lived your life for other people, and you are truly admired by all for that. I miss you and think about you every day, but I know I'll be okay because I have the most amazing angel watching over me. I love you.