Saturday, September 25, 2010

beginings and endings

I haven't posted in a while so I doubt this will be short.

Over labor day weekend I went back to Colorado to visit with my dad and mom. I was sad to find my dad had gone downhill in a few weeks. I took him to radiation and chemo and stayed awake till 2 or 3 am each night sitting with him while he tried to nap through the discomfort, the anxiety and the difficult breathing that the tumor in his lungs was creating. I feel pained remembering him laying in his hospital bed in the middle of the living room taking deep, struggling breaths. I kept thinking to myself, "this is so unfair." Unfair that my dad was "healthy" less then two months ago, unfair that when I left two weeks earlier he seemed like he would be ok for a long time, unfair that my dad would be suffering with cancer, unfair that he would die at 63, unfair that he would never meet his grandchildren or play golf again or go eat bar-b-q or go fly fishing, on and on it's not fair.

Despite his decreased health my mom, my dad and I though (or were in denial) that it would be ok for me to go start the school year for two weeks and then come back home.

I few back to Oregon on Monday night and cried. I got up on Tuesday morning and Wednesday and taught my middle school classes and helped get the kinders and 1st get settled in. On Thursday morning at 5:30am my mom called in tears. My dad had died in his sleep.

I now know what it means to be in shock. All I could manage to say was, "oh." Shock is to be numb.

My husband told me not to go to work, but I felt so numb and disconnected to the fact that my dad had died that I went anyway. I told my principal and vice principal who both got watery eyes on my behalf. They told me to go home. I said I wanted to be the one who told my students. I had to leave sub plans.

I told my middle school students. A few cried for me, a few cried for their own lost friends and family, we talked about why my dad had died, how I would be gone and I honestly answered their questions about how I was feeling. I told them it did not feel very real. I spent the next day getting ready to leave, preparing a two weeks worth of sub plans and finding someone who could be in my classroom that long.

Thank god for Sparrow. She was amazing. She was the first face my K-5th students saw this year for art and she did a great job getting them started.

I returned to work this past Wednesday and am trying to get my brain in the game but everything feels slow and foggy. It still feels like my dad is not really gone and that I'm watching this series of events happen to someone else. I think my art posts will be more sporadic for a while.

Please keep in mind that the reason I keep this blog is to record the lessons I'm doing and have a place to journal about teaching in a urban art room. I love seeing what other art teachers are doing and I support art education anywhere in any form.

We already work in a job area where people question our validity and we lack support, lets support each other; not tear each other down. Judge not least ye be judge....aka if you don't have something nice to say to me....move on along and I will show you the same courtesy.


  1. My heart goes out to you. My dad died 16 years ago, and not a day goes by where I don't think of him and the things he missed and that we missed by not having him. So I very much understand what you must be feeling. But your students will need you and will help you, so concentrate on seeing the joy in them, and give your mom whatever she needs,but be sure to take care of yourself too. My best to you.

  2. I'm sooo sorry to hear about your dad, but know that he is not suffering anymore and it will feel more real soon. I am sure that you will remember all the good times with him and just wanted to tell you that I'm thinking of you at this time! I enjoy reading your blog and can't wait to get my blog up and running. Hang in there and be kind to yourself!

  3. So sorry to hear about your dad. My dad died 3 1/2 years ago from cancer and it just plain sucks! I still miss him. In my art room there are tiles my kids made and that was one of the last things my dad did with me at school was to put the tiles up. You will think of all the great things about your dad and remembering is good therapy. My dad died in May and to this day I don't remember the last month of school that year. I will keep you in my prayers as you adjust to life without your father. Take care of your mom and take care of you.

  4. My prayers go out to you and your mom. My dad died unexpectedly one year ago. He had been sick, but was expected to live a full life on dialysis (he had a kidney disease and could not have a second transplant). All you can do is live day by day. There will be days when one minute you are great and the next minute your a mess. Your students will understand. Stay strong, but allow yourself to grieve. Take care of yourself and your mom.

  5. Hello,

    I recently compiled a list of the Top 20 art blogs for educators, and I just
    wanted to let you know that you made the list! It
    is published online at

    Thanks so much, and if you think your audience would find useful
    information in the list or on the site, please feel free to share the
    link. The blog is just starting up, so we always appreciate a link
    back as we're trying to increase readership.

    Thanks again, and have a great day!


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  7. Hello,
    So sorry to hear of your loss. My mom has been very sick lately... and I know it's not easy to try and go to work and do what needs to be done. I just recently found your blog, and really enjoy it... your honesty and integrity in your writing are so refreshing to read. I commend your courage to blog through your feelings. And I love the part about us Art Teachers supporting each other.. it's tough times out there and I'm not feeling the love in my district, as they've cut some of the program this year... I'm now traveling to 2 schools... so I could use the support! Thanks and keep up the good work.. and take care of yourself!