The great thing about having established a ‘tradition’ of guest-blogging is that if someone tells me an interesting story, I can ask them to write it down and send it to me. I am so glad that my newest guest blogger, Matt Ledding, agreed to do this.
I met Matt at the Macmillan party at IATEFL Brighton. To the noisy accompaniment of the (very good) Elvis impersonator funking away in the background, Matt told me the story that you will read below. These days, if there’s music blaring in the background when I’m having a conversation, I often think I’ve heard something completely different from what was said. Having read the blog, I now know that all the astonishing details I thought I heard were correct.
I’m sure that Matt would have no problem with any ELT teachers using this in a third conditional lesson. I can’t believe I wrote that – but really, it’s what the story is crying out for. 🙂
The stuff we are made of
I had the pleasure to meet Ken Wilson (likeability in person) at IATEFL, and we got talking about Canada, and I hit him with my family history. Ken asked me to send the story as a guest blog post. So here it is.
I am a Canadian. Like many of my compatriots, I think of nationality as a pie chart: I am three-quarters Irish, one-eighth Norwegian, one-eighth Swedish, and may contain trace products of French and English. The last name is from Norway. I probably am more Irish – Scandinavians tend towards tall, blond and handsome, and I tend towards short, dark and a great personality.
In any case, that I am Canadian at all is mere chance.
The name Ledding was invented by American immigration officials. They misunderstood what my grandfather’s grandfather said. The name came from the family farm in Norway, where Albert, a young boy whose last name was suddenly Ledding, was born.
Growing up in the United States, Albert married a Swedish girl, Mary Mattson. She became very ill, and they farmed out the children they had to various families while she recovered. The Andersons, a family who took care of Charles, my grandfather’s father, could not have children. They decided they would keep baby Charles as their own son and ran away to Canada, to Saskatchewan. Nobody knew where they were.
Until he was seventeen years old, Charles thought he was an “Anderson”, but that year, a friend of the Leddings accidently met the Andersons… and Charles. This resulted in the Leddings coming to Canada to reclaim Charles.
Bringing him back to the US, they sent him to school for the first time in his life, with a group of six-year-olds. Remember – he was seventeen! After graduating from primary school, able to read somewhat, write somewhat and do some math, he moved back to Saskatchewan, where he managed a lumber mill.
His children were born from his first wife, and the children weren’t fond of his second wife. When Charles lost the use of his legs, his second wife pushed him around the house in a wheelbarrow, to avoid spending money on a wheelchair. My grandfather still isn’t sure it was an accident that she pushed him out the window on the second floor with that wheelbarrow.
So many “ifs” were necessary for me to exist. So many “bad things” too.
If he hadn’t been kidnapped, he never would have gone, or returned, to Saskatchewan.
If not for the potato famine, the Irish side of my family wouldn’t have come over to Canada.
If Mary Mattson’s great great great grandmother in Sweden hadn’t been convicted of witchcraft (another story) …. She received clemency because she was pregnant, and she was allowed to live until she gave birth to her child (that went to another family, while she went to her death.)… end of story.
If my great great grandfather had spoken better English, my name and this post wouldn’t exist… ad infinitum.
But somehow, through a million stories, a million problems, and a million ifs, we all got here, to share this now, and create new stories (and problems!) together.
All of us, (and the most boring and frustrating person we ever come across) are part of an anthology of stories. One that could make the angels and devils laugh and cry for eternity.
Don’t believe that people are 70% water, and a shopping list of various elements.
We are made of stories.
I love the immediacy of social networking. Last night, I saw this tweet from Brazilian blogger/tweeter (and previous guest-blogger here) Cecilia Lemos (@CeciELT)
Later she tweeted a pic of the text on her whiteboard. A simple idea shared.