Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on November 2, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with 5 comments

Sealift – The lifeline ot the North


Life is full of surprises. None of us know what’s around the next bend in the road of life. It’s unpredictable. There are no certainties other than death, taxes and a lineup at Tim Horton’s at breakfast hour.

Two and a half weeks ago, I was living a pretty laid-back existence. After a summer of overeating and overdrinking, I was back in a nice groove. I was substitute teaching a few days a week and the rest of my days were spent walking, reading, and watching far too much sports and Netflix shows. Have you ever wondered how we existed before Netflix?

On Saturday, October 15th, I received a call that once again changed the trajectory of my life.

First, a backgrounder. In November of 2019, I arrived in Kangiqsujuaq, Northern Quebec to teach school. I had recently suffered some loss, so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I stepped off the plane on a dark and cold November evening. I hadn’t taught school in over forty years, there was no curriculum or textbooks to speak of, and I was inheriting a class of students with multiple challenges. It only took me 24 hours to realize that I was in way in over my head.

The morning after I arrived, I went to the school early. I would soon discover that there were two other early birds: Ben and Maureen. Maureen, a woman in her fifties, was a ball of fire. Even at an early hour in the day, she was energetic. She was also very cheerful. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but after a few days, I realized that Maureen would be my lifeline. Similar to when my good friend, Charlene dragged me across the finish line (literally) at the Boston Marathon in 2011, Maureen took me by the hand and helped me get through one day at a time. She was my rock and I’m quite certain that without her enormous support and guidance, I probably would not have come back after Christmas.

On Saturday, October 15th, Maureen passed away very suddenly. I almost decided on the spot that I would go back up north and take over Maureen’s class until the end of the school year in May. Before I had a chance to change my mind, I made a commitment and flew up on October 24th.

Not only was I going to take over Maureen’s class, but I was also going to be living in her apartment, a stone’s throw away from the school.

There is no way to compare the two experiences of arriving here three years ago and coming back now. I know exactly what to expect. I understand the north with all of its challenges and idiosyncrasies. My expectations are realistic. There is a comfort level that comes with experience. I’m not going to suggest that my assignment will be easy, but I have already been through the steepest of learning curves. I can almost call myself a veteran.

I will keep you posted when I’m able and when there’s a good internet connection!

Have a great weekend.

P.S. My 7th book is just about ready to go to the printer. I plan to be home for Christmas, but I don’t think a book launch is going to be possible. I will be selling books off my website and at the 5 to $1.00 in Antigonish.

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