Grad Party Moments

After a year of Covid the grad parties have returned. There have been years past where I haven’t attended any of the celebrations of our senior graduates. Last year I made no excuses, we all stayed home. But there have been occasion where I took an all or nothing approach. This year has been different. Perhaps having retired from my school holds precedent. Today I felt tears at a party for the first time in nearly a decade.

For every teacher there is always that student and this afternoon I said a farewell to one of mine. She holds that special place in my heart. One particular display taunted everyone’s heartstrings. She had created, or perhaps mom or dad, a display of her class picture from 1st grade to graduation. My eyes well as I write these words. I think knowing she would be the last person I work with directly on this stage had a tremendous emotional impact on me today.

I looked at all the students and families that I was given the opportunity to spend my life with over the last two decades and I am only grateful. The celebration of a graduate is real and profound. In my own life I didn’t have that luxury when I left high school, so now as a teacher for most of my life I have discovered a certain respect for the life of the students that when I was a teenager I took for granted. To be the adult teacher that comes to celebrate their successes is rather humbling for me.

For all the teachers out there that this summer question whether or not it makes any difference for them to say goodbye to their students one last time as they leave the high school hallways, take a moment to give yourself a break. Though there were many times when you felt like you had no impact on their lives, it is clear they wouldn’t be where they are this summer without your love, compassion and guidance. But we didn’t do it alone we all did it together hand-in-hand because that’s what we cared about more than anything else – the success of our children, our students, our families, our community.

To be a teacher has been probably one of the rewarding gifts of my life and I am forever thankful for the opportunity. Seeing the smiles and celebration of my students this summer has been a highlight and offers assurance as I choose another chapter in my life. I only hope I can have as receptive an audience as I did the kids I worked with on stage throughout my career.

Graduates I wish you only the greatest success in all of your future endeavors and I will be right there to watch you achieve so much in your profound lives.

Thanks for letting me know you – celebrate!


©️ Thom Amundsen 6/2021

Grateful Solace

All week the idea of this day has rolled through my mind. Thanksgiving, and what it is that gives us such value toward one day out of the calendar. Despite its origins which do give me pause and help me realize we might be thought somewhat arrogant to an indigenous nation we clearly took advantage for our own benefit. The day nonetheless has become a gathering of family, a day over the years that has the promise of memory and laughs and celebration of an identity we have become together.

I can always remind myself of our family meeting one another in my grandmother’s home in Duluth. She and her husband, Granny and Gramps cherished their family in every extent of the word. I know the dining room table that would fit us all with the children in the next room, sitting on as polished oak they could match with the adults sacred space. To make it one day to the main room, the main serving table of Granny’s wonderful meal was a rite of passage for all including myself.

We were raised in the fashion of an Irish tradition, and anyone who walked into the home on 5th avenue, became another Irish descendant the moment they crossed the threshold. My father alone – Papa – of a Norwegian descent was clearly an Irishman that day, embraced by Nana’s parents like a son – a paramount meaning of love that I have wished I might emulate my entire life. I was lucky, we were all lucky to know unconditional love in every aspect of the word.

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving and we must first acknowledge the state of mind a pandemic has placed upon our ability to celebrate together. No matter the circumstance for some of ‘alone’ and all of its impact, we can still with integrity celebrate the meaning of love. Wherever we stand, however we live our lives in distant or near proximity, only one reality matters – kindness.

We are compassionate souls no matter how much we might choose to fight that attribute in any given paradigm of our own position in life. We have experienced those we do cherish who have passed on to their next journey (God bless) and we will hold a chair for them today because memory alone will always keep them close to our heart. We will recognize those of lesser means who today might have a tear or flood of emotion knowing their isolation and hunger will be overlooked by the many that come before and did once share lives together. I don’t speak of myself in that realm, I am a fortunate man.

Today let’s lift our glass to the beauty of life. Let’s look in one another’s eyes and remember that together we have created these moments for many years well beyond our own mortality. Let us be kind and grateful for all of the people that came before and after who created whom we are today.

Let us love with passionate embrace.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

Are You Ok?

How do you ask

Why do you ask

Well, I’m alright

yeah, I am.

 

We cannot predict this stuff

nod your head

show affirmation

let the tears come

think about …

children nearby …

grown adults

they’re watching you,

loving you,

thanking you.

 

Everyone in the room is

grateful

within the tears,

they are laughing together

celebrating  the beauty of you,

you, today, embody love.

 

Today you shine

as much as any other day,

yet,

everyone with shielded eyes

is taking their moment

acknowledging your time

realizing how precious

life is today

while we bid adieu

some way away

we would ask, wish,

know.

Sweet Morning Peace

Oh I do wish the world might offer solace

When it is we are all wandering an alone,

A wonder is to recognize any one pace

Could, would offer a shoulder to unknown

 

Soul who cries in the midst of happiness,

For it is the season to seek absolute joy,

Because we were told, and now deploy

Our finest avenues of energy to impress.

 

Yet how might the onlooker really feel

If in the end their yearning find sorrow,

If only in a moment their truth borrow

The Grace in everyone’s eyes they appeal.

 

For when the world begins to understand

Is the time that hardship wears no land.

Pride!

Image

Be thankful to be alive

that walking down the street

didn’t kill anyone

remember when bats and pipes

seemed to define hatred

more blatant

more in your face

more homophobic reaction

to misunderstanding.

That was long before the numbers grew

well ahead of the closets and hidden coves

the saunas and back alley shows.

Remember when we were hoping for a display

some distinguishing attitude

made us stop and realize we were ok.

Seems today we really are

ok

seems wherever we look

we see more signs of being just that,

ok

Seems we are all ok, today.

So, celebrate with us

with you, with them, each other, every one

has a moment to recall

when a day like today

couldn’t exist no matter the patience

fortitude, resilience, honor, confidence …

trust

That today can be like any other

and we can walk the streets

with smiles that are real

rather than tucked behind well-coiffed banners.

Pride

is that measure of delight

in recognizing who we are …

who we have become …

human beings that hold compassion

before fear and confusion.

We are one standing before you

much like our world truly is

One.