Posted tagged ‘Francisca’

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”

January 5, 2012

This is the strangest winter. Yesterday was freezing, literally. When I went to the dump, an open area all around, I thought I’d been whisked to the steppes of Russia. The wind was so cold my hands nearly froze when I got out of the car to toss the trash, lots of trash, in the bins, and by the time I got back into the car, my breathing was as heavy as if I’d be plodding through drifts of snow. Right now it is 36° and feels almost balmy. The paper says 40’s today and 49° by the weekend. I don’t quite know what to make of this winter.

My Christmas tree is gone, lying outside waiting for pick-up. I miss its aroma but most of all I miss its colorful lights and decorations. Winter is drab with its dead leaves, bare branches and early darkness. It is only Christmas which gives winter life and color. Now we’re stuck waiting for spring.

I have these weird bursts of energy. The other day I put away the rest of my Christmas decorations, did a load of wash, watered all the plants, dusted the shelves in my room, changed my bed and filled the bird feeders. I felt accomplished. Today, however, is a day of lethargy. I knew it as soon as I woke up. I didn’t have a single concrete thought, and I just stayed a while comfy and warm under the covers. Gracie sensed my mood. She didn’t move; she just stayed asleep at the foot of my bed.

I don’t know why we pick one road over another. I know I seem to have chosen the right ones for me. My life continues to be a good one. I have found the best of friends and have had the most wonderful experiences. I enjoy every single day even the most mundane of them. My former student, Francisca, is religious. She finds great solace and comfort in God and believes it is God who directs our footsteps. She said I had faith that I would find my students when I went to Bolga. It wasn’t, according to her, mere coincidence that Shetu was at my hotel for the first time in a few years the very night I had dinner there, and that we would find each other. Francisca believes it was God’s will. I would never dispute her. Even if I did, she’d laugh and tell me I was wrong. She’d say she knows better.

“The length of a frog can only be determined after it dies.”

October 29, 2011

Today has been nothing but rain and more rain. We went to Hyannis and purchased most of the ingredients we need for tomorrow’s dinner then got the rest of the ingredients here in Dennis. I even bought South African wine, keeping with the theme of course.

Our ride yesterday was down 6A to Orleans then back to Dennis on 28. It gave Francisca views of the older Cape and of the small towns and villages. She said that calling them villages made her feel quite at home. I felt like a tour guide explaining the differences in architectural design but was hard-pressed to answer some of her questions like why is it called Dennisport when it isn’t a port and did they run out of names and just add port even if the town wasn’t near the ocean. We stopped for lunch at the Land-Ho in Orleans then had dinner at home.

American food is far too bland for her.  Food should burn the tongue, gums and the outside of the mouth. Tonight Francisca covered her meatloaf with chopped jalapenos and said it wasn’t even hot at all. I remembered the light soup I ate my first day on the road in Ghana and how I had to stop eating because my mouth was burning from the pepper. The heat factor, the hotter the better, determines how tasty a dish is to a Ghanaian.

Francisca refuses to call me anything except Miss Ryan. We are only 6 years apart but to her I am her teacher, her mentor and her mother.

Francisca is afraid of dogs and Gracie has been her charming self, barking for attention and following poor Francisca who is doing her best to discipline the dog and make her sit. Gracie right now is in the kitchen keeping Francisca company as she preps for dinner.

It doesn’t seem like it has been forty years since since we last spoke. It seems like only yesterday.

“They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

October 28, 2011

Yesterday we had a torrential rainstorm most of the day and night, and with the rain came a cold to the bone chill. The sun is shining now, but it does little to dispel that chill. The sun has the look of winter about it when its sole purpose is to light the day. Some parts of the state have already had snow. Winter has its foot in the door.

Francisca is here. I picked her up yesterday. We hugged for the longest time then we talked all the way down to the cape. She looks forty years different, but her laugh is the same. We are both amazed that we have finally found each other again. She told me she speaks of me often, and when she and my other students get together, I am always mentioned in their conversations.

It is seldom that a teacher finds out the impact she had on her students. You stand there in front of class after class and hope that your words have taken hold and found a home. It isn’t just the teaching of English that happens in the classroom. It is helping your students realize that there are no boundaries. I learned way back when never to underestimate a single student, even the slowest of learners, and I learned that encouragement and faith are far more important than a simple sentence or the uses of adverbs. Francisca was among my brightest students and she went far, even to a master’s degree and becoming, for a time, a government minister. She is filled with energy and enthusiam even though she keeps telling me she is old. Francisca is, as she said, only six years my junior, but I am her mother.

Today we are taking a cape ride so I can show how beautiful it is here where I live. I already know how beautiful it is where Francisca lives.

“A consistent soul believes in destiny, a capricious one in chance.”

October 27, 2011

Today is an ugly day. It’s been raining all night and it’s dark, four in the afternoon dark. Gracie poked her head out the door earlier and didn’t like what she saw so she turned around and went back into the kitchen. I didn’t blame her, but I did suggest she try again so Gracie finally braved the elements, performed admirably then ran right back inside the house. The ordeal was so horrific she is now sleeping on the couch and snoring quite loudly.

My sister has about eight inches of snow. They showed the streets of Denver on the local news last night, and it looked like a winter wonderland, but this is only October (okay nearly November), but it is far too early for sleigh bells ring, are you listening.

My student Francisca Issaka just texted me to say she was at the gate ready to board her flight to Reagan and from there she’ll fly to Logan. I’m going to pick her up at 2:45. She has been in the US visiting her daughter so we missed each other when I was in Bolga. Francisca was one of the youngest students in T2, the second of four years of training college. She was sixteen. My students my first year ranged in age from sixteen to thirty two. It’s difficult to believe that Francisca is 58. I still picture her as the tall, thin student she was when last I saw her. I’m beyond excited to see her.

Francisca believes that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences. She said I had faith I would find my students in Bolga, and she’s right. That Shetu Mahama would go have a beer in a place she hadn’t been for two years and that I would have dinner there at the same time and meet her was destiny, not mere coincidence. I don’t doubt it at all.

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