Ilana (author) and Joan (inspirational mother) whilst visiting us in India

Dear Blog Readers,

I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but the last posting was made on Thursday March 21. I am usually extremely verbose and regular with my postings and yet… Here is the explanation: March 21 was the day before I left for Canada on Easter holiday to visit my mother and father. Sadly, it was at the end of this lovely 2 week holiday that we suddenly found out that my mother’s cancer had returned. I was literally 2 hours away from the Toronto International Airport… I immediately appealed to ISM for compassion leave. I will be forever grateful to administration’s immediate and unfailing suppport as they granted me the ability to be by my mother’s side in Canada, in what turned out to be the last 3 weeks of her life… Living overseas and having family illnesses is always a challenge that must be faced sooner or later, and it was a blessing that I could be with my beautiful mother until the end. I returned for the last 3 weeks of the school year, but was caught up in writing report cards and packing up my house and classroom as my family and I move on from ISM to start a new chapter of our overseas teaching life.Hence the sudden silence from my blog.

I am a writer, that’s what I love to do… (as many of you have figured out, given the extensive nature of my blog postings!!!). As a daughter coping with the loss of my mother, I found a therapeutic way to deal with my grief and mourning – by writing!! In the weeks following my mother’s death, I felt this overwhelming need to capture and share all our memories, stories and recollections of Joan M. McGrath: mother, grandmother, poet and artist. I had this vague notion that there must be something out there in CyberLand to manifest my desire, so I did what I often ask my students to do… have a question to investigate through research! A short Google search later I discovered the world of online memorial websites, and after a while longer, I uncovered my favourite of the whole bunch – muchloved.com! Funnily enough, it turns out that this was the first-ever memorial website created, back in 1990 and that it was British-based (my mother’s homeland)! Looking back now on those early weeks, I see that this website was VERY therapeutic for what I needed… an outlet for writing “Slices of Life” narratives, much like I taught my students in Writing Workshop. You will find on this website vignettes, (“Life stories”) as they are called on the website, poems written by my mother, wishes and memories from family, friends and acquaintances, even photos from her life and artistic endeavours. My mother was an artist; a talent gleaned from my grandmother (teacher and painter) and the grandfather I never met (published WW2 war poet and editor of the Edinburgh Herald in Scotland). I am who I am because of my mother…

So this is my last post on this ISM blog, as I leave this school with my family to move on to another international school in a few weeks. This blog will remain open for browsing, but will not grow any further after my years at ISM. Thank you for making my world map of visitors grow and grow and grow (it always boggled my mind that anyone beyond my students and their parents/grandparents would be interested in this blog!!).

I also invite you to browse through my newest memorial website and enjoy it purely for the sake of learning about a remarkable lady… http://joan.mcgrath.muchloved.com

Peace out…

Ilana