Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Celebration of the life of Roger Field

A celebration of the life of Roger M Field March 2, 1945 to October 28, 2012 held at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on December 2, 2012. Roger was a poet, educator, administrator, son, brother, husband, father, and friend through out his life . He is loved, remembered and missed by all that knew him.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Here is an audio piece Roger recorded for OutFront on CBC.  In the piece Rog talks about rowing, poetry, and being a school principal.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dad's Celebration Speech (Jon Eben Field)

Roger Michael Field (b. March 2nd, 1945 – d. Oct. 28th, 2012)

            Roger was many different ways for different people. For some, he was the silent, patient listener; the person to whom they could come and share their concerns and always find warm reception. He would hold whatever the weight or load, so they could come to realize what they needed was already within. For some, he was the writer who could discover the beautifully apt word, phrase, or rhythm for expressing an emotion, meaning, image, or sense. For others, he was the teacher who would calmly ask questions until by dint of his focus and the warm sharing of his example, they came to understand. For others still, he was the administrator who calmly held a school together day in and day out, year after year.
            My father was a person who embodied kindness, patience, love, honesty, wisdom, humour, and brilliance. And now that he is gone, there are days when the world feels a little emptier. But there are also many, many more where his presence rings around us like the sparkle in his blue, blue eyes. I had the privilege to know him as a listener, a writer, a teacher, and, yes, even as an administrator. But through all these layers of relations, he was always my father.
            Recently, a friend of mine asked, “What did you and your dad do?” and, for a moment, I was struck dumb. We did not hunt or fish, play or watch sports, go canoeing or hiking, rebuild antique cars, or any of the other things through which I imagine fathers and sons bond. It took me several moments, but eventually I said, “We talked.” My father and I had a conversation that filled my life. Dad was willing to have a conversation with almost anyone about almost anything. He was open. And I feel uniquely honoured to have had my conversation with Roger containing the degree of intimacy he invited and breadth and range of awareness he offered. And I’m sure you feel the same.
            We spoke of art, poetry, meaning, beauty, love, grief, and madness. We spoke of birds, of the “rightness” of a word, of the joy of numbers, of possibility in life, and, of course, we spoke of death. My father was an adventurer in life and words. And as you know, it was always a pleasure to meet him wherever he was wandering because that is precisely where he was.
            In my mid-twenties, I experienced a crisis. Let us speak truthfully, “I went crazy,” and ended up in a psychiatric ward in the Abbey Lane Hospital. The dedication and resilience of my entire family allowed me to return from those dark abysses. But early on, I remember Dad, after working all day at Mt. Uniacke, would drive into the city, come up to my room, and check me out of the ward. As we walked down to the “Summer Savoury” cafeteria, I would try to convince him of all the terrible things I was certain I had done. Walking by my side, holding my hand, he would patiently listen as we picked out a muffin (lemon or blueberry) and a juice (always cranberry), and then we would sit alone and talk.
            Day after day, he would listen to the stories I had concocted to explain why I felt so horribly. And at some point in these conversations, he would say the same two things. First, he would recite a line from bp nichol’s Martyrology that says humans are “approximate and conditional.” And in the search for the certainty of my guilt, this possibility kept me alive. And at the end of our conversation, when I tried to convince him once more of my wrongdoings, he would calmly reply, “Jon Eben, I think we will have to agree to disagree about this for today.” We continued to have these conversations until I was as certain of who I was as he was.
            Roger’s greatest gift was his attention. When he listened, he was nowhere else, and when he spoke, he spoke to you alone. Dad was a gentle man with an immense reservoir of love and fathomless patience, and if I learned anything from him, it is how being present and aware allows others to be free. He was willing to get out of the way and help however he could. His friends were given the gift of his loving friendship. His family was given the gift of his brotherhood. My brother, sister, and I received the gift of a very wise and present father. And my mother was given his most passionate love. To finish, I would like to read the very last poem Roger wrote:

One thing about being in this bed
if this is the place where I will die
is the panorama of the view
and the fact that you can tell
where the sun is located
every day that you can see
its rise and set
and it matters to me
to know this
to be located somehow
on this earth of ours
that we ride around on
until we all arrive at
and come to our own ends.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Resolution No. 2943

After the celebration on Dec. 2nd for Roger's life, Michele Raymond, MLA for Halifax Atlantic made a motion in the House for the following resolution.  Thank you Michele for taking this action, it means a lot to our family.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a large crowd assembled at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design yesterday, December 2nd, to remember the life of poet and teacher Roger Field, who was born in Bermuda in 1945 and died at Fergusons Cove, Nova Scotia, in November 2012; and

Whereas Roger, the second of seven sons, shared countless gifts with his family, friends, colleagues, students, staff, and newcomers in need during his years at Halifax's New Options School for adults, as principal of Uniacke District School, head of English at the Koc School in Istanbul, member of the Halifax Refugee Clinic, and teacher of professional English to design students at NSCAD; and

Whereas among Roger Field's many gifts was his unwaivering sense of the importance of every human life, a gift which he held lightly, with humanity and humility, but with immense and gentle determination;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the life of Roger Michael Field and his contributions to the life of Nova Scotia, and express its condolences to his family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

October Song: A Poem for Rog by Sylvia Hamilton

I took a walk for you today. It’s fall, but temperate. The clematis was blooming. Its lilac petals kissed with a thin layer of lavender. At Grand Pre Park the trees stood naked without their leaves. At Evangeline Beach the tide was way out. You could walk it seems, forever. Hardly anyone there except a family, a young couple. Him, her and a little boy reluctant to walk. His dad picks him up takes off his sneakers, puts him back down so his little bare feet touch the warm October mud. There in the distance is Cape Blomidon. Silent, watching, steady as you, as the endless sky, as the blue of the sky. As the last seagull in flight disappears from view.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From Silvana Vazquez and Mike Kelso

Sil and I remember the times we shared with Roger and Lorraine in Istanbul very well indeed. The weekends at Ortakoy have stayed with us unlike any other memories we can think of and are among the happiest and best memories we took away from Turkey. There is a Merçan Dede CD which we woke up to on the floor of their apartment a few times. It instantly takes us back to that moment, every time we play it. Happy days because of our own developing relationship, and because of the quality and warmth of their company. The lack of bullshit, Lorraine’s unpredictable sense of humour, and the piles of fresh börek that Roger brought back for breakfast every Sunday morning. Roger was always so present, so aware. He was hilarious too, although he hid his humour behind the façade of a calm, measured, serious, semi-retired white guy. You could see it in his eyes though, if he thought you weren’t looking.

We loved the way Roger made Lorraine the centre of his universe – although it was hard to really work out who revolved around who, at times.

We have talked about you both so many times. We can’t tell you how much we missed your company after leaving Turkey. We tried to think of a reason or a date when we could fly to Canada to see you – but it has, sadly, been too difficult. The chats on Skype have been great though and we remember fondly the last chat Roger had with our 3 year old-Finn- making comments about the train engines that Finn was showing him through the webcam.

Respect, Roger, for being the man you were.
Lorraine - Kia Kaha (stand strong).

Much love,
Silvana and Mike

Sunday, November 18, 2012

From Chris Field

Early Memories with Roger

As I reflect on life without my brother Roger, I realize that I am now the person who has known Roger the longest. Roger had a wonderful memory and would often say, ``Chris, do you remember...''. He would have a clear recollection of something from our childhood which I hadn't thought about in years. I felt I wanted to write down some of my memories of Roger up to and through our teenage years.

In the beginning, he was conceived in the summer of 1944 when I was about 15 months old and we were living in Liphook near Portsmouth. I think this would have been just before Dad's ship headed for the South Pacific. In January of 1945, a very pregnant Mum set out with me across he stormy North Atlantic in a small tank landing ship. The U-Boat's were again becoming very active and Mum was sure that our ship would be torpedoed or break up in a storm. We did however make it to New York with no obvious way to get to Bermuda and I suspect not much money. Mum managed to get us to Miami and then we flew by a PanAm Clipper to Bermuda where Roger was born on March 2nd, 1945. I'm told our return trip to England a few months later was very rough and Roger was terribly seasick and developed a dislike of milk which persisted as we grew up. Roger's beginnings both in vitro and early life had some dramatic sea journeys which sandwiched a tranquil few months at San Isidro with Granny.

My earliest memories are of living in Shoreham by the Sea in 1946 and early 1947. The beach across from our house had been mined during the war and had barbed war along the top of the beach. We were told some child had managed to get onto the beach and had been blown up. Needless to say Roger and I were both terrified to go near the beach. Fortunately it did not deter from our love of beaches and the water later as we grew up.

In  March 1947, a very pregnant Mum set out for Halifax with Roger and me in steerage on RMS Aquitania. Apparently Roger and both had come down with whooping cough just before embarcation but Mum managed to stifle our coughs until we set sail. The plus side was that we ended up with much better accommodation in the sickbay for the voyage. Not sure how Dad managed to get Mum to agree that he could travel over on his own.

In mid-October of this year while visiting him, Roger said he like to read me a poem he had just written which was probably only meaningful to me. When we were living at the cottage in Purcell's Cove, we would walk with Mum through the woods to our Aunt Monnie's cottage. There were some nasty dogs which always barked at us and made us rather fearful of dogs. We also passed a small dump where would pick up tin cans to play with on the beach. Roger recalls Carnation cans as being the best. We'd fill them with water and have cans of cold, warm and hot water (not quite sure how hot we could get the water in the sunlight). The poem described this experience and Roger said it was probably his earliest memory. He would have been 3 at the time.

After moving to Sydney in 1949, Mum suffered from some culture shock and Dad agreed that she could take we three boys to Bermuda in the spring of 1950 to stay with Granny at San Isidro. We met and played with our Brooke-Smith cousins, Phillipa (my age), Bruce (Roger's age) and Robin (Nick's age). The next door neighbours in San Isidro had a pet monkey which got loose one day and jumped on Roger and scratched him quite a bit. It was certainly very traumatic and he had to get some shots at the hospital across the road. I celebrated my 7th birthday in San Isidro and Michael Douglas came since his Mum was a good friend of Mum's. For some reason, I threw a temper tantrum while Roger enjoyed playing with Michael and the other children. Even at this young age I never recall Roger throwing a tantrum while I apparently did it quite regularly according to Roger.

Back in Sydney, we lived at 160 Whitney Avenue and had a nice long gravel driveway leading up to the garage. Roger, Nick and I spent many happy hours creating roads through the gravel for our collection of dinkies. The back alley which ran behind the house provided a great environment for hide and seek. I remember one back yard was quite overgrown and had many daddy longlegs. An older boy told us that these insects would sew up our mouths. We certainly believed this for quite a while and were very fearful of this overgrown lot.

In December of 1954, we boarded the RMS Saxonia and travelled to England for Christmas. There were now four boys and we were shown off to our grandparents in Birmingham. Dad's bother Michael worked at the Cadbury factory and our visit there was a child's delight along with visits to the ultimate toy store, Hamlyn's on Oxford  Street. When we were staying in North London at Woodford Green, there was a snowfall and being Canadian boys Roger and I went out to make snowballs and throw them at passing motorists. We hit one car whose heavy set and well dressed driver stopped, puffed up and shouted some rather unflattering comments about young hooligans in our direction. I don't recall either of us being too intimidated.

Around this time, Dad and Mum purchased to farmhouse at Northside East Bay overlooking the sandbar. The attic was a treasure trove (in retrospect probably an antique picker's delight) which contained a marvellous canvas kayak. We spent many hours in the water tipping over the canoe and kayak and coming up underneath. A rite of passage was to swim to the sandbar. Roger always seemed to be a better swimmer than me but we did our initial sandbar swim together. I think we were true water
rats. The local Indians had a ceremonial site across the Bay from us and I remember, Roger and others of us exploring this site by daylight after hearing loud dancing and singing wafting through the night
air. It took all our courage to walk into the woods half expecting to find Indian bodies.

As we reached early puberty, we were introduced to the intricacies of the female anatomy by our precocious neighbour Ann at East Bay. Not having sisters and being pretty naive, Roger and I were intrigued. Roger seemed to be a better student than me and I recall Mum lecturing Roger about the influence two Harrison Avenue girls were having on him. At about the same time, Roger and I were in the changing room of the YMCA and we were all fooling around when Roger cut his groin on the locker handle. I remember hushed conversations between Mum and Dad hoping he hadn't damaged his ability to have children. As we know, he hadn't.

I cannot recall Roger and I having a serious fight as we grew up and it was not because I was easy-going. As an early teenager I continued to throw temper tantrums and I was only cured of it by having Roger and Nick laugh at me as I stormed on about some injustice I felt I had endured. Even as an early teen Roger was showing the qualities which made him such a excellent family man and educator.

I will truly miss Roger. We were able to talk easily about things past, present and future and he brought a quiet wisdom to all our conversations. I will always treasure my memories of Roger both distant and recent.

From Ann Wilson

I first met Roger when he became the head of the K-12 English department at the Koc School in Istanbul where I worked at that time as the coordinator of the K-5 group.

I have to admit that my first thought on learning there was a new head of department was - I hope he has the sense to let me get on with doing what I know works well and doesn’t interfere! So I was quite apprehensive when I had my first meeting with Roger as I had no idea what he was like. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised because my first impression was that he most certainly had the sense and insight not to interfere with what was working well!  I often joked with him about that concern I had before meeting him! 

Roger was a man who actually listened and cared. I remember telling the teachers in my department that all was well. We had a very calm and strong gentleman as our new head of department. I was impressed! We all grew to love Roger. His calmness and kindness affected everyone and he was always joyful, positive and cared for everyone equally. He really was a true gentleman.

I not only respected Roger as my boss but I also came to love him as a very dear friend. I also admired the strong love and devotion he had for his family. He was a great man. We met weekly and he would come over for our meeting and we had coffee and talked of many things. The conversations I had with Roger over the years were great. They are little treasures that I will always remember. Even after Roger left, he stayed in touch and whenever he and Lorraine visited Turkey he always made the time to come over for a coffee and meeting as he had in the past! The last time I saw Roger was on such an occasion last April. I had no idea that this was to be my last meeting with Roger.  I will greatly miss my conversations with him but I will continue to talk to him because I am sure he is not far away and is seeing and hearing everything. Strangely, about 2 months after Roger visited my computer at home crashed and all my files disappeared except for one; the file of Roger’s poems that he had sent me over time.  I will miss Roger dearly and I feel  privileged to have known him, and to be able to call him my very good friend.

Here is a picture of Roger at one of our meetings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

From Annie Ozsarac

November 7, 2012 by annieozsarac

For Roger. By his example he inspired me to be a purposeful teacher. Through his kind words he gave me the courage to figure it out by myself. From his musings on teaching he cultivated in me the idea that students are where it’s at.

The Universe

Down the steps, students pad silently behind, me feeling all too serious, I turn and am poked in the heart with an umbrella by a boy whose name means hope. Shock and horror turns to giggles and apologies. The universe is funny that way.

We make our way through the school, noticing things we maybe hadn’t noticed before, or jotting down things that make us feel something nice, or good.  I see Obama on the muted TV screen.  I scribble in my notebook.

Through the hallways where they first met the fate of these next five years, students are reflective of who they have become in such a short time.  I see a broken arm propped on a desk and smile.  This too goes in my notebook.

Out the door we go, into the finally crisp November air.  Down these steps I walked in autumn twelve years ago.  I reflect on the person who stood there then and the one standing here now.
“Do you want to see something weird?”

Feeling now like the pied piper, curious teenagers follow me.  Out at the storage area, they spy a discarded toilet and snicker,  laugh and point.  The universe again.

Then they notice those really big shoes, smile and take pictures, pondering why these strange things are placed here, in a big cage. It is a nice moment.

We walk back, I spy mushrooms growing out of construction debris and roses blooming in November and I remember a poem also about Istanbul roses blooming in November.  And I smile.  The universe is like that sometimes.

Reflection from Mel MacKeen

Roger was my principal, friend, confidant, and support while I taught with him at Uniacke School. Though I was an oldie in the profession at the time, I learned so much about being a human being from him. His calm demeanour, understanding and genuine compassion for others was remarkable. One little anecdote, if I may – I was was absent with emotional ill health and he called me at my home one evening just to be a friend. I cannot, of course, remember the whole conversation, but I will always remember two things -  what he said to me and how I felt when he said it. He told me that he just wanted to hear my voice. In just one sentence he validated and uplifted me. I cannot remember my response but I hope he knew that hearing his voice was the best therapy I could have gotten. And now, simply spoken from my of the finest human beings I have known.