family, help

Remember the Wish for My Brother

In November, I wrote a post asking for help in giving my brother Paul a very special Christmas.  He was at the time deployed to Afghanistan and expected to come home before Christmas.  Besides being an incredible trauma nurse and studying to be a doctor, he is also the biggest Maple Leafs fan I have ever seen. So in my post I asked if anyone could help me get a shirt for him and lo and behold it all happened due to the power of Twitter.  Watch the video below how it all went down and thank you again if you were part of the journey in getting the word out.

being me, family, questions

We Pass on Our Wondering

My grandfather always told me that a little girl lived in the water-tower by his house and that if I paid enough attention, I would notice her stocking hanging out of the little window to dry.  To this day, when I go home to Denmark, I pass that water-tower knowing that his story is probably not true and yet I wonder.  My grandfather gave me that gift; that little spark of curiosity that kept me focused and interested even beyond my curious years.

I try to pass that on to my students.  I don’t make up stories as much as he does, but rather leave them with a spark of curiosity.  I proudly exclaim that I do not know the answers and how will we ever find out?  I ask them to seek their wonder, to allow their mind to ponder, and to take some time to reflect.

The day passes by and we do our curriculum and yet we try to squeeze something out of every minute we have to give us some extra time to wonder.  We wonder out-loud, we wonder silently, sometimes alone, sometimes as a group.  We speak of it because that provides it a legitimate place in our classroom.  We cherish it and we laugh about it.  Not all wonderings are meant to be explored.  The gift that my grandfather gave me I now pass on to my students.  A fitting legacy for the man that means the biggest part to me, the man whom we chose to name Theodora after, the man who now is in the twilight of his life.  Every time I drive by a water-tower I wonder if there is a little girl upset that her stockings are always wet, looking for a window to hang them from and then I wonder whether he remembers?

As my grandfather slowly succumbs to ill health, I keep him in my thoughts, knowing that I made him proud.

family, thank

He Was Right There – Words to My Father

My father came into my life on my 7th birthday.  One moment there was no one there and the next I found my mother sitting on a strange man’s lap as if he had always been there.  I didn’t know he was my father then and in fact it took me many years of confusion, displaced anger, and soul searching before I realized that the father I had always been searching for was right in front of me.

My father did not have me, he chose me instead.  He chose to be a part of my mother’s life and in that he also chose to be a father to her three children.  And we did not make it easy for him.  We did not want a father, already had enough in the one we dealt with on forced vacations and long weekend.  Growing up as the product of split parents, I had enough self-pity to stay in misery for years.  And yet my father stood by me.  He showed me how to play the guitar, he showed me how to use the computer, he stood by me when my other father dealt my already fragile ego another blow.  And he did not ask for anything in return.  He just waited and waited until one day I realized he had been there all along.

So when my soulmate asked me to marry him, I knew I had to make a choice.  Did the man who was my biological father give me away or the man who had stood by me all of these years, wiping away my tears, lifting me up when I needed it, get to do it?  When I walked down the stairs with my father by my side, my biological father watching from the chairs, I knew that this was what the world had wanted.  Someone out there knew that this little girl with so much anger and so many tears needed someone to show her what it meant to be a real father.  What it meant to give your all and not ask for anything in return.  He showed me that it is okay to show your emotions, and it is ok to be  angry as long as you have a way to work it out.  He showed me what it means to love and live and passionately believe in things.  He showed me what real fathers do and told me that I had the right one when I met Brandon.  And he was right, when I look at how Brandon is with Thea, I see my father and how he was with me; there, present, and in the moment.  We are truly our father’s daughters, thanks dad.

being me, family, inspiration, role model

A Mother’s Tale

When I was 15, I hated my mother.  In fact, I hated almost everything.  Anger, sadness and oh so loathing of myself emanated and surrounded me every day for years.  Words flew like daggers, piercing indiscriminately whomever and whatever came in my path.  I was a child who suffered in their own self-pity, one who wallowed in misery, and lost friends, alienated family and tried to make everyone else’s life as miserable as I perceived my own. And yet my mother stood by me.  She didn’t change her course, her faith in me, her utmost belief that the little girl that had been the last, would one day come back to her.

People like my mother do not appear often in one’s life.  She is selfless without being depreciatingly so.  She is witty, charming, and very very smart.  She is beautiful in a way that requires little effort.  She is strong, and she is a believer in strength for all.  She is fair, she is opinionated, and she carries a grudge, but she knows when to let go and forgive, even a child that sets out to hurt.

As a teacher, this lesson sticks with me every day.  Our students may lash out with words that are meant to destruct, destroy and hurt, and yet I stand by them, knowing that they too are momentarily lost on their path in life but one day they will return to me.

Tonight my mother was awarded the University of Wisconsin Academic Excellence in Teaching Award.  We were there to see her accept it and there to cheer.  My mother passes her lessons of love, curiosity, and inventiveness on to students every day and for once someone finally acknowledged just how incredible she is.  So thank you to the most important woman in my life, thank you to the one who taught me what it means to live with grace and to believe fervently that we make a difference.  We speak of teachers as role models, and yes, my mother is mine, but she is also many others’.  Thank you for standing by and standing up when I needed it.  Thank you for kicking in and kicking butt when it was deserved.  I am the product of a strong woman.  I hope my daughter will say the same about me.