May 27, 2002
This week, we are launching nine stories written by students from Winnipeg, Manitoba. As a special event, you can read some of the stories as well as hear them, with the audio player. The following stories were written by members of the Learner Speakers' Bureau, coordinated by Literacy Partners of Manitoba. These learners participate in different programs in the Winnipeg area. The stories from this year's Learner Speakers' Bureau graduates will be unveiled at the Winnipeg Learner Conference on May 29, 2002.
Note : The text versions that follow do not always match the audio version, because some people preferred to update their stories after the recordings.
Play an audio version of this story
I was born in 1942, but I didn't start living until 1995. I left school in grade 6 and started working at the age of 13 as a tree planter, but most of the time I did bush work. For the next 16 years, I lived a normal life, going to work everyday and life was routine. Then I met a woman named Linda and my life changed. We had a son together. He was born in August of 1971, 7 pounds 6 ounces. We were happy together until our son passed away in February 1972 from crib death. I took it extremely hard and started drinking. I realized 2 months later that was the biggest mistake of my life. So to try and turn my life around, I took a course on driving transport trucks at the George Brown College in Toronto. The course lasted 8 weeks. I completed and passed the course. However, to my surprise, driving truck wasn't what I though it would be, so I quit and went back to bush work. My son was still on my mind and I kept drinking, figuring that it was helping me, but it really wasn't.
In 1976, my brother-in law and I bought a 440 John Deere Skidder to drag the trees out of the bush. We were really happy because we were now our own bosses. That lasted until 1985 when I injured my left eye and lost sight in it. Only later, the doctors discovered I had a cataract in my right eye. Now my troubles were just beginning. I don't know how many eye surgeons I saw, but they all told me the same thing. I had a cataract dead centre in the cornea of the right eye, and it was too risky to operate. So there I was, unable to work and no one would operate to repair the damage to my eye. So I continued drinking and smoking. That kept up until May of 1995. That's when I had heart failure and my doctor told me that I was a young man and had lost to live for. So I quit drinking and smoking. I was hard to do, but I did it and it's been 6 years, not long ago I found a doctor who would operate on my cataract and now I can see again.
I joined a new group called " People Who Care About People", and that's when I learned I would have to better my education, if I wanted to pursue new opportunities. So I began attending Orioles Community Centre for upgrading and I also joined the "Learner Speaker Bureau" It's very essential for my future, that I better myself.
It is now 2002 and I've really been enjoying my life since 1995. The reason is I quit drinking and smoking because I really believe that the smoking and drinking is bad for you. The other reason is I've gone back to school. I am finally learning how to improve my reading and writing. Soon I will be able to write my own business letters.
When I think back, I ask myself, how many people out there are just like me. How many people don't know about the literacy programs? In my opinion, it would be much better for others to improve their education, rather than sit at home, drinking and smoking. They should start living their lives, like I am.