In Memory of Alexander Martinez (Reprise)

John Lennon reminded us in a song that ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans’. This week ‘life’ happened with the news of the death of Alexander Martinez – an adult student attending a college night course that I teach.

Alexander was a real gentleman and a genuine person. Originally from El Salvador, he told us, in a recent class presentation, how he had been a 3rd year law student who was forced to leave school in order to make a living.

His life was a series of stories, each with a rise and fall ending … being forced down, only to succeed later. As he talked (needlessly apologizing for his command of English) I was able to see the picture of a man who was ‘worthy of his suffering’ – choosing not to give in to defeat.   

Listening intently, I wondered how it was that a man like Alexander could find it so difficult to obtain meaningful employment in Canada. Was it his English? It certainly wasn’t his ability to communicate.

Nor, was it for lack of effort, as I had met him in one of my classes some 2 years earlier, working on completing yet another college certificate.

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The night I passed on the sad news of his sudden death to his fellow classmates, we were consoled in the memory of the spontaneous group exercise we did for him after his class presentation. Together, we conducted a brainstorming session to develop ideas that would help him gain employment. We listed these on large board sheets which we all signed, along with our best wishes. Later that night, towards the end of our class, I glanced over to see Alexander re-reading those sheets. He seemed moved that we took the time to care.

Maybe that’s what Canada is all about. Maybe, we should demonstrate that more often.

Good bye Alexander. And, on behalf of your classmates, thank you for choosing Canada!

Your life decision has helped re-confirm mine. Or as one of Charles Dickson’s immortal characters said best: “Mankind was my business!” 

Fred Parry (fredparry.ca)

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