Monday, January 28, 2013


Hoisting the green bin of groceries from the grocery cart into the car hatch, I feel a weakness in my lower back that telegraphs,  "You will regret this!"  The elation of finding steelhead trout at the Co-op meat counter has dissipated more quickly than the wet flakes of snow settling on the celery.  Through the lights and the stop signs of Queen Street on my way home, I am focused on the grim prospects ahead.   In the driveway, the Tracker already has dibs on the parking spot closest to the house.    So.  Looks like the hard way today.  I swing my legs over the side of the car, like the Duchess of Cambridge arriving at a gala.  I don’t like the ominous pricks in my lower back, portents of  a long night ahead.  Transfering the bin from the car to the kitchen peninsula,  I am already wondering how I will manage to put the groceries away, and then prepare the trifle for the party . . . OMG, the band supper tomorrow night! 

I have to sit down, do something to stop the currents of pain coursing through my legs from my spine, even if it's just for a moment.  How did this happen?  Can I pinpoint the trigger?  Didn’t perform the new glute exercises correctly?  Some misalignment there?  Not enough rest between sessions?  Maybe it’s my chairs—I’m sitting a lot now that I’m out of the classroom.  My work requires hours in front of a computer.  All of the above? 

Mulling over my plan for tonight and beyond, I am suddenly back at the kitchen table of my childhood home in the summer of 1972.  I’m having breakfast before heading off to work.  My father is heading off to work as well.  It’s seeding, and there’s no time to lose.  Today, though, he’s not smiling and striding out the door, relishing the prospect of a day in the sun and fresh air, alone with the machine, the birds and this thoughts.  He is folded in two, still upright, unable to straighten, face riddled with back pain so intense he can only manage by focusing on some mystical force just ahead of him, steering him to his pickup.  If he loses the visual connection, he will collapse on the spot.  After years of jostling in the open air on tractors, combines, and sprayers, his body takes a stand.  No more.  Not even your new Jolly Green Giant John Deere can help you now.  

With help from the neighbours, he manages to finish seeding.  After that, the choice is clear—six weeks of bed rest or surgery.  For Papa, it’s a nobrainer—he’ll take the bed rest.  What a cross for this strong, independent man who’s never been sick.  But he’ll take the frustration over the Russian Roulette which his friends tell him is back surgery.

He was 61 then, about a year and a half older than I am now.    It seems trite to say that Papa’s image reminds me to appreciate every healthy moment.  Cliché or not, though, this Ghost of Yvette’s Future sobers me.  I must honor this fierce will and unyielding determination, part of my father’s legacy,  whatever life brings.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Who am I today?  If this blog on my sojourn into age will have any significance, it's important to have a baseline.

I am an educator.  Although I have superannuated, the teacher term for leaving the classroom and collecting a pension, I can continue to say that.  I will always be an educator.  True, I work part-time for our school division as an assessment and curriculum consultant.  I facilitate professional development workshops for teachers through the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit.  I even do professional writing for a publisher.  So I am still connected to my lifetime obsession with teaching.  Maintaining formal and official links is not, however, the main reason I can continue to call myself an educator.

My mind still orients my life around a classroom.  When I read anything, watch anything, meander through shops or travel, I am always thinking of applications to the classroom.  "Wouldn't it be cool to  . . .?"  or "Gee, I could do this with the kids . . ."  My body responds physically.  My tone of voice rises, my heart rate accelerates, my eyes must enlarge, and I know I lean forward.  Then, a reality check--Oh . . . I guess I'm not in the classroom any more.  I will have to try these ideas with teachers, and steal the trickle-down effect from conservative economists.

Make no mistake--I do not regret the decision.  I have not questioned the move for even a nanosecond. I have a life again.  I have bought cookbooks, and I have actually used them.  At this very moment, the tantalizing sweet and sour aroma of pulled pork in the oven has transcended the kitchen into my office on its way to other corners of the house.  I am getting enough sleep.  I have time for people.  We entertain.

In fact, I suspect that this new decade may be the best time of my life.  Certainly, leaving the classroom is the most important change in my life since our first child was born.  So far, I am healthy, reasonably fit, mentally and physically, and excited to be learning so much.

That's who I am.  A teacher.  Always.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jumping In

Hello there.

I've done it.  I've begun a blog.

I might even say I'm proud of myself, venturing forth in this unlimited community.  It's a leap for me--not technology, per se, just the personal communication aspect, especially at my age, 59 and counting.

In fact, ironically, it's the age that has spurred me to begin.  I hope that this blog will be an account of this stage of my life, a chronicle of getting older, and then, later, getting old.  Why does age fascinate me?  I can honestly say, it's not fear; anticipation is probably a better word.

I have a lot of experience with age, and with old age.  I've stared it in the face already.  I've danced with it, admired it, respected it, relied on it, cringed at its surprises and rejoiced in its gifts.  My parents lived with us, with my husband and me and our three children, for eighteen years, until they died, my mother at 92 and my father at 100.  As you can imagine, there are stories, lots of them, to be told over the weeks and months ahead.

For now, for this introductory post, I am focusing on the excitement ahead.  Each decade of my life has been better than the previous one, and I am very curious as to what the new one beginning in July will bring.  My twenties was the decade of initiation; my thirties the decade of children.  I devoted my forties to my career, and my fifties, it seems, have solidified my identity.

Now, what's next?  The journey continues.  Anticipated thanks to anyone who comes along.