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Signing

Yesterday. I found myself in a nondescript mall near a nondescript food court. I deduced that it was popular because it was full of people of all descriptions. It was noon, so folks were in the same state as me, hungry.

Walking past the array of offerings, I am always on the hunt for something Asian. I prefer this food because it is traditionally more nutritious than the typical cuisine of over- fat, salted and deep fried American. I can taste most Asian food. Since going through many radiation treatments 18 months ago, taste is still challenging. Besides, I get to use chopsticks. I always like practicing with these utensils.

Aha, Thai Delights! Now, this will do.

Following the customary ‘good afternoon’ exchange between the young Asian-looking server and myself, she began to talk about their special for the day. Catching only a few words, I immediately raised an open right-hand palm and said, "Whoa!" I showed her my information card that indicates my difficulty with hearing…

7. Two Kingdoms

The One Ear Man was on the Shanghai "Maglen," a high-speed train going NorthWest from Shanghai and Beijing. The train left Shanghai's Hongqiao Railway Station some time ago. It crossed the Yangtze River, made famous by Chairman Mao Zedong’s swim in 1966. It has been an uneventful trip, and the novel he is reading, A House Divided, by Pearl S. Buck seems a little too heavy in the “navel gazing" and light on the action at this particular point in the story. Buck is rapidly becoming one of his favourites. She has such a passion for the ordinary people, especially those that work the land. She has almost a religious fervour about China at the turn of the 20th century. The One Ear Man has learned so much about China’s history and its people from the setting of the three novels.

Sitting across from the One Ear Man, the Three Travelling Companions seem a little bored. His conclusion is based on a large number of times they have passed back and forth the tattered magazines i…

6. Mooncake

In addition to the regular classes, there is a requirement for all healthcare students enrolled at this college to take weekly tutorials. This is part of their course load as they progress toward their certificate. Each tutorial aims to reinforce points that were raised in the formal lectures of the week. It is a relaxed environment and students are encouraged to engage in dialogue, the superior way to learn.

This particular tutorial is about relationships and how they are essential to our health and happiness, especially in times of distress and sickness. The connection is a topic that does not get too much exposure in the current literature studied by healthcare professionals, at least not that the One Ear Man found while researching the subject. So, he thought it essential to discuss it in a tutorial.
Apparently, there are many ways to teach and learn. The One Ear Man found that one of the most effective vehicles for a teacher is the story. He is a storyteller at heart, so it fits.

5. Empathy is Key

Shortly following his release from the hospital after head and neck surgery for cancer, the One Ear Man decided, along with his doctor he could resume teaching healthcare students.

So, he did. He began his first class on a Tuesday afternoon, right after lunch.

I consider myself to be in a very fortunate position, the One Ear Man began. I am both a college teacher who stands in front of you day-after-day teaching Microsoft Office and Google Docs within the context of the healthcare profession. I am also a cancer survivor. So by being hospitalized, I have observed both sides of the business; what we teach and how my former students practice.

What a window of opportunity I now have handed me by being able to talk to you here today. You, who sit in front of me will be within a year of working in a medical clinic, on a ward in a hospital, or perhaps an 'old folks' or extended care home. Maybe you will be working in a hospice. You will be nursing the very people I spent some time wi…

4. Johhny-Come-Lately

The One Ear Man entered the classroom at precisely 7:35 a.m. Students start trickling in at 7:45. The schedule states the class begins at 8:00 sharp simply because of the way the contract between the students and the college reads.

A fascinating observation; something that the One Ear Man has seen happen over the years. There is a similarity between a church and a classroom. In both, it begins to fill from the back of the room. It never starts to fill up from the front. Years ago, when the One Ear Man was a novice at teaching he made it a point to care about the space between himself and the students. He actually took the podium, and with the help of a burly young woman, (I caught you on that one dear reader. You expected to read ‘burly young man’), between the two of them moved the podium to the back of the room and had everyone turn their desk around! Boy, were they surprised. The One Ear Man was unconventional then and still is. Students call him an “un-teacher teacher” because of …

3. The International Class

A Prologue to Learning

The One Ear Man enters this particular class on the morning of their first day. Looking around the room, he sees the anticipation on the faces of the College-age Students. As usually is the case, many seem to be from places other than Canada. This is obvious by what they were wearing.

Good morning class. I am known as the One Ear Man because that is what I have, one ear. For the next six days, we will be engaged in the Level 1 curriculum for computers. This is a mandatory course for your healthcare certificate, that takes you almost 9 months to earn.

Before we get started, I want to tell you a little about what happened to me in June of last year. ‘Why do I only have one ear?’ you may be thinking. I'd instead tell you up front than sitting there wondering and not thinking about the computer lesson. I had head and neck cancer and had extensive surgery and radiation treatment to become cancer free. Yes, I got rid of cancer. But I lost my right ear. With that, th…

2. The Surprise

(C) Sun Wukong 2018

Dedication

This short story is dedicated to Roselyn C, my new friend.

In transit heading south on the main road going toward the large university in the late afternoon in early October, the One Ear Man noticed a College-age Student entering the bus. She took a seat near the One Ear Man.

Within a stop or two, she retrieved from her backpack a poster-size picture of a puppy and looked longingly at it. Time passed. She continued to stare at the picture. "Your dog?" asked the One Ear Man.

The College-age Student simply nodded. She looked so sad.

"I lost my Shih Tzu two days ago. I put posters up everywhere I could think of. No luck with finding my dog!”

She continues to look at the photo. As time passes, she appears to look even sadder.

"Your situation reminds me of a story," said the One Ear Man. Allow me to tell it to you. Without waiting for a response, he continues. It takes place once upon a time, in a far off land that is made up of many island…