David, Literacy

When I was in grade 2, I was injured in a tractor accident and missed a year or more of schooling. I never caught up. School became really hard. I didn’t fit in and couldn’t work in groups. I did my best to skip school. I dropped out of school completely in grade 8 and was working in oil field maintenance by the time I was 16.

I married my wife at 26. She did all the paperwork, and read our mail. I washed the cars and did the yard work. Our life had a good balance. I remember when she got sick in 2008, she took me into the bank and tried to show me all the stuff I needed to know. She died of cancer when I was in my early 50’s and things suddenly got very difficult.

I was injured on the job, on disability and then dealing with my wife’s death. I looked for work but it was hard to hide the fact that I couldn’t read. It seems now that you need to know how to read to do anything. I was seeing a grief councillor and she helped me realize that a lot of my anger and frustration was because I felt helpless as I couldn’t read. She sent me to P.A.L.S.

My volunteer tutor is great. She isn’t just a teacher, she is a listener. She is supportive and there are no threats or being put on the spot or embarrassment. I only knew small words and wasn’t sure of the sounds of all the letters. The materials were an introduction, step by step to reading and they worked. I started being able to read very quickly. I could make sense of things I never even bothered to look at before. It was like I already knew a lot and we were just filling in the blanks. It felt really good.

By the end of my first year I could read flyers and letters. I didn’t have to stockpile mail till I could find someone to help me with it. Now I read magazines about fishing and hunting and building cabins in the wilderness. It’s great and sure better than just looking at the pictures.

I am thinking of starting my own business. I would like to be an equipment operator. I have the confidence to do things now that I can read. I don’t need to worry that I will not know what I am doing when writing or reading a contract. I have a fancy phone and tablet now that I can use pretty good.

What I have learned here has given me more room to achieve my wishes and wants. I feel more positive about my whole life now. The reading is a big step. I look forward to each day without the embarrassment and disappointments that were part of my life when I couldn’t read.

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