Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Spring Bouquet...in the form of a letter

When spring break rolls around students and teachers welcome the chance to get away from the everyday grind for a bit, relax and maybe read those books that have been waiting on our shelf for too long. Some fly to various destinations to visit family and friends. One teacher-friend took Hutterite Diaries along for en route reading material. And she was kind enough to take time to jot down her thoughts.

Ashley Tully teaches at a Hutterite colony in our School Division, and she kindly granted me permission to share her letter, which has a beautiful poetic ring to it, and bubbles with joy and gratitude. Joy and gratitude that goes far beyond reading my book. But if reading my book, in some small way, reminds people that their 'cup is full and running over', it's one more reason to celebrate the wonder of story. It's magical how the stories we write, mingle with the stories in the hearts of the readers, sometimes inspiring them to write beautiful pieces themselves.


Dear Linda,

I'm just writing to you.... well because I suspect you're similar to me.... & I would want to know these thoughts if you were reading a book about my life & community. I hope I am right. I will take a chance & tell you my thoughts. They may be a bit mixed up, so my apologies ahead of time.

As I read Hutterite Diaries, I am smiling & laughing - thinking of your voice. Then laughing some more thinking of Elma.

Then I stop...
((Side note: I'm flying to Thompson to my "colony" to see my friends I consider family.))
 & look out the window thinking. How lucky am I to know these ladies? Maybe not personally, but know of them through people. How lucky am I to work on a colony?

I keep reading & I cry.
Now knowing a small snippet of the fire story; I think- how sad to lose their brothers- but in those sad tears - there's a mix, tears of pride also... Proud of how strong these two women that I know are.

I didn't know what Hutterites were before I moved to Portage/Oakville. Then when I moved & began to see them In Walmart, "the" Dollarama & in the vans.... I would wonder "what is it like?"
Never assuming, always wondering, too shy to ask.

Your book helps me. It helps me understand what I already know - we both know it is not the exact same on Grand Colony. Of course it can't be. BUT I'm still proud to work there & be their English teacher. Even on the most tiring days, I drive away in my Ford... (Cause as the Grand men say - it's the best & they know "Tully"  just wants to be like them. Ha ha!)

And I'm smiling . Smiling because I love my students - so much so I sometimes forget they aren't my children. Ha ha. You know what I mean. Watching "MY" students grow up & having the same kids every year is very special & I can say with a full heart of appreciation & gratefulness, a gift from God, I didn't know I needed.

As a young girl I remember getting angry at my mother who is now a retired teacher...
Stomping the floor I would say vehemently "why do you call THEM your kids, I'M your kid."

I see now, I see why she did....

I understand more AND I brag to other teachers - yeah they see their students grow... BUT not like I will get to... I will be around to see my "kids" marry, have babies of their own, work & become leaders in their community. I hope before all the adult stuff I see a few graduates along the way... But if not I will still smile every day, because of the students I am lucky to teach - I'm lucky enough to see grow into fine young men & women. Mothers & Fathers.

I will continue reading on my holiday to my "colony", my home away from home. I will cherish the time I FINALLY have to read your book, which so far is beautiful. It warms my heart --- & as I tell my students... fills my bucket.


Part 2:

I'm reading after 3 hours of visiting my friends. Tea, cookies, chatting & of course laughter. Knowing I should go to bed, I still wanted to read a bit. I was just getting to the history - the stuff I need to know.

****
That's where I stopped writing, because I couldn't put your book down.

I can say this though....

It brought joy to me, Linda.
Soooo much joy.
Thank you for that.

I will treasure your book always. It was bought for Ingleside (the school where she teaches) when I was on maternity leave... & I just got to read it at Spring Break.
I question many things, spiritually, & scientifically... I don't question fate, &  the plan.. I don't question that. Even something as simple as reading your book at the time that I did... I needed to.
Not knowing it... But I did...

And I say I will treasure the book always because it may not be "mine" but Ingleside
(the colony school where she teaches) is my "home" even on the bad days... I still want to get up & go "home" every day. See my "kids". I want to teach them... Give them learning experiences, be there for them & fill their buckets.
Because they do all of that for me.

So once again... My apologies if this letter didn't make sense... & thank you. Thank you for writing your book.

Yours Truly,
Ashley Tully



 
Thank you so much, Ashley, for this insightful, reflective and heartwarming letter! This must be the most poetic response I've received thus far. I appreciate you taking some time during spring break to read my book, record down and send me your thoughts! Your letter is like receiving a fresh bouquet of spring flowers.

No comments: