Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things to do. Especially when you are not sure when you will meet again.
This week I bid farewell to my oldest son. I should not complain as we had him stay longer after his Christmas vacation. I should say ‘fortunately’ as the one month vacation turned to three.
During this period, we bonded, chatted about all sorts, discussed and had decent arguments. I guess it was a , ‘learning more about each other time.‘
We lived his stresses and coping strategies whilst he attended his online lectures, group and professor meetings. He also had his final project to work on which was really taxing, with many late nights and so much focus.
Parting was emotional we held hands and prayed. I was moved and had tears rolling down my cheeks.
I will remember the times he’d pop in whilst I was teaching online at home, to just touch my hair, say good morning and whisper, asking how I was that morning.
His encouragement with everything I’m doing is so special.
What makes the parting even more unsettling is when you do not know the next time you will meet again. With all the mask wearing, tests and other protocol, travelling by air is not so appealing. This makes the parting worse.
BUT with all the online meeting places we will arrange our weekly reunion, so it does not make us feel so far apart.
I met this word in the late 1990s when a colleague shared the serenity prayer with me. I have always thought of that prayer, especially as I have lost touch with him.
The prayer he gave me was published on a tiny card. I kept this card for many years with all my other cards and travelled with it everywhere I went. This card stood out as it was the only one with words. These words were truly special.
“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things
I cannot change
To change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.”
A powerful prayer. I have since enjoyed using the word serenity and mentioned the prayer to my friends. I’m glad I can use the word to describe other calm settings where one feels soothed after the experience.
I wonder if that is what the prayer was meant to do.
Driving through the university campus, close to the ticket booth, I noticed these green, unripe mangoes. They were hanging very low and left by pedestrians to ripen on the tree. I spotted the potential, juicy fruits hanging on the tree, a few days ago and was tempted to take a photograph of them. I guess I was attracted to the hanging fruits because that was a rare sight, in the last couple of years.
Those mangoes reminded me of how time heals.
In the last few years we have not enjoyed many healthy mangoes. There has been a ‘virus’ or disease that caused many of the leaves to blacken and stall the growth of the juicy fruits. All around the city this disease affected many trees. The huge mango tree at home was not spared and had to be sprayed and pruned a few times.
My brief research showed me what was affecting the the trees. The disease called ‘Sooty Mold,’ which is s fungus had spread throughout the region and affected many trees including mango trees. All the leaves were covered in a shiny black, powdery looking fungi and the trees gave birth to misly looking half-fruits.
A few years on, I am delighted that the disaster is behind us and we are now noticing many healthy, lush mangoes on trees, all around the neighborhood. When mangoes are in season, I absolutely enjoy them. They are so appealing and are the main ingredient in my smoothies. I choose the large species as they are more fiburous and succulent.
Can I compare or connect the disease of our local mango trees to the effect of the Corona Virus on humans?
One day all this bro ha ha will be over and we will, “hang, ripen and be full of goodness.”
The school day started quite well. I thought I was settled in my ‘office space’ in our grade level hub, which I had created from the new classroom furniture. My belongings moved with me to this space in a trolley, thoughtfully partitioned to house a teacher’s different needs. On Wednesdays students learn online and most of the work for a majority of students is asynchronous.
I still had a packed day with a full schedule planned. Individual meetings, small group meetings and a community meeting to start us all off. Of course my ‘transitional laptop’ went off prematurely so I had to move from my comfy, made up space to find a place to charge it.
I had signed up for the Covid vaccine, and felt we would be invited today. Last night I placed my ID card in my wallet. I was right , many of us, teachers and school staff, were invited for the vaccine, but had to queue for hours. After a long wait and some wrangling we all had our vaccines and a few of us hailed a cab back to work.
At school, I joined the tail end of our team meeting, it was all a blur as I had missed most of the discussion.
I rushed home as my daughter had an online assessment organised by a tutor, I had to supervise. I wore a different hat and found it all quite overwhelming as we had a very short time to get ready. I was panicking and had to print out some sheets for her to ensure all her questions were accessible.
I felt for parents and empathised with their plight. I kept wondering if that is the way we make our parents feel, especially during this period of online learning.
This slice is about a memory that I want to hold onto, one that reminds me of some of the pre – Covid era, at school.
There are occasions when you visit places that just spark distinct memories for you. We’ve been supervising our few students at school in our Multipurpose hall.
One morning, on entering, I just had a feeling that was quite interesting. Walking in, I remembered all the different events that I’ve either participated in or watched in the multipurpose hall.The images that came to me were extremely vivid, lively, colourful and sometimes brought aromas that whiff around the event or occasion. To reminisce I’m going to list some of the events here. Interestingly, I can clearly remember what took place on each of those occasions.
We have photographic memories and I hope they last as long as possible as they release welcome feelings that should not be lost.
International Festival: What I remember are the many colourful clothes, flags and images that share the sixty or so countries that are represented at our school. Always a phenomenal day with a cultural blast. We are normally taken round the world, tasting food from all around the world , experiencing dances, language, music and a rainbow of clothing. The frenzy is sometimes overwhelming as parents join their children and staff to begin an extremely electric parade. An image that is one to behold. On such occasions you wish the day would never end. The few speeches that are shared in this hall affirms the unity and celebrated diversity of the strong community.
All Staff Meeting: This normally happened on the last day of school, when we celebrated staff leaving and long serving members. Images of the blue kente stoles folded pristinely come to me.
All staff buffet: This buffet was always confusing with the different aroma: local, spicy food and the mild alternatives. What I remember clearly are the white table cloth on islands of tables surrounded by a few chairs.
Middle School Theatre: One that stands out and was beautifully choreographed, The Lion King. It was perfect. The students overdid it and the pride that I felt as part of the congregation was inexplicable.
High School Pop Chain:This one stood out, it took me to my childhood days, when music, dances and hairstyles from the past decades were displayed and performed.
P.E: Colourful balls, students’ voices and movement, fast manouevres.
Field Day: Groups made up of students from different grade levels, wearing their house colours playing different games, I was sometimes the sweaty teacher with the whistle in hand.
Local Teacher Seminars; When we had to use this hall because our numbers had risen over the years from 150 to almost 600 local teachers. They started their day here with a warm breakfast and a lecture about Education generally and Teaching in our Ghanaian local schools in particular.
Holiday Concerts: Oh those were so cute. Students in their Sunday best, some with a little make-up or glitter for the occasion. The lights and colours were extremely impressive. One that stands out was when the Elementary school sang different parts of a French song: “La Ballade”. The rendition that sparks goosebumps all over you.
Basketball matches: That was where I peeked to watch E play a match. My middle schooler gets so embarrassed seeing Mum watch her team.
Many of these events and celebrations happened multiple times. I’m sure there are more and more events that I will remember and hold onto. Oops I forgot the celebration before inter-school middle and high school team sports competitions when our Elementary classes created banners and chants for teams from other West African countries. The memories will keep pouring in.