For reasons that will soon become apparent, this blog post covers both ends of the emotional spectrum. My wife coined the term “congrolences” to describe the past 10 days. Feel free to use it as you read my story.
On Tuesday, February 8th at 10pm, I received a phone call from my Dad saying my Mom had a heart attack and passed away. Her health had been in decline for the past 2 years and, even though these things are never expected, part of me had been preparing for this moment since that rushed Christmas trip to Saskatchewan 2 years ago. At that time, I remember being shocked when I walked into her hospital room and seeing that my Mom had gray hair. Weekly trips to the hairdresser for a bright red or orange rinse had been on Mom’s appointment calendar since 1982. I had never seen my Mom with her natural hair colour. At that moment I knew things had changed and that the phone call I received from my Dad Tuesday night was inevitable.
Last Wednesday morning at 10am found my sister and myself in the Calgary airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Regina to begin the terrible task of planning a funeral for a parent. I checked my email and discovered a message from Mary Burgess, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technology at Royal Roads University. She was offering me the newly created position of Manager of Learning Technologies. Less than 12 hours after hearing that my Mom had died, I was being offered a dream job with one of the premiere post-secondary distance learning institutions in the country.
Congrolences: a phrase said to someone when two life-chaging events at opposite ends of the emotional scale occur in a short period of time. I think I need to add that to Wikipedia. Or, at the very least, the urban dictionary.
I accepted the position. Since then, the knowledge that I am joining such a wonderful group of people in CTET at RRU has carried me through some of the darker periods of the past week. Already the reception I have received from Mary, Tracy and others at CTET & RRU during an especially difficult time has served to underscore the fact that this is truly a wonderful group of people working on an equally wonderful slate of projects in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
There is another set of emotions at play here as well, as I prepare to leave Camosun College, a place that I have been associated with (on and off) for over 15 years. I have some very deep, long term relationships with this institution and the people here. From my time in the Applied Communication Program, to my stint as the station manager of Village 900 radio, to my work in Distributed Education, I have worked with a number of very talented, generous and wonderful people. I will miss them greatly, but take solace in the fact that I am a 5 minute walk from my home to campus and to many of the friends I have here, and many of those friendships spill over outside of the institution. Those will continue.
But right now, I do feel incredibly fortunate to have this new opportunity in front of me. And I know that, somewhere at this moment, my Mom is feeling pretty proud of her son.