Cold, cold November – remembering those no longer with us


winter

 

It actually is quite cold here this morning, and it’s been snowing on and off for a couple of days now. Snow – frozen rain falling from the skies.  The song by Guns ‘n Roses,  November Rain, plays in my head. “And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain”. It’s a song about relationship; about love and loss. Even though it’s a love song and the story about the struggles of two people in a romantic relationship, the ballad is so sad, so haunting – it brings back painful memories for me – not about a romance gone bad – but about loss, irretrievable loss.

November – Remembrance Day and recalling the sacrifices made in two horrific world wars. All those who died. All those who were irreparably wounded in body and soul…

November – the month my father died…

November – and remembering the day two years ago when I got that awful call – my brother was killed by a drunk driver.

November, a month I dread with its admonishments that life is fragile.

And realizing, yet again, that it is this very fragility that reminds us life is precious – so very, very precious! A reminder to live life with a grateful heart and to appreciate all the blessings that are given; that even though the earth may freeze, underneath the killing frost new life waits to bloom again….

 

Paper Cuts and Flat tires


Some days are just like that. I reach into a drawer for a bit of scrap paper and slice my thumb on said item. It’s very busy. People are lined up. I am alone on the desk; my co-worker is on break. I grab a Kleenex and wrap it around the wound, trying to staunch the flow while simultaneously checking out books for a patron, making sure I don’t bleed on them (the books, not the patron). Paper cuts hurt! Also, they bleed a lot. At any rate I survive and the books remained bloodless. Score! I win!

This morning we wake up happy and joyful. Everything is going smoothly. All is well. My husband is going to drive our daughter to work. Then it all goes to pot for a few minutes when we discover we have a flat and the tools to change the tire are at our son’s place across town. Happily, our friend and neighbour is not working today and offers to drive daughter to work. Crisis averted.

Stress can be such a pain in the butt. But, you know, most things we stress over are so small and inconsequential. I mean, we live in a beautiful home, in a beautiful city, in a country where we are free – truly free. No wars or starvation to worry about. We don’t have to fear for our lives. We have food, clothing, shelter and much to be thankful for. Stress really is all about perspective, isn’t it?

As we go about the rest of our day and arrange to get the tire fixed I hope we remember to count our blessings and to let little frustrations go. Some stressors really aren’t that important, especially paper cuts and flat tires!

One life that made a difference: Lt-Colonel Richard Alexander. A farewell and a tribute to a wonderful man


Seven years ago, I interviewed Lt- Colonel Richard Alexander for the Western Star, a daily paper published in Corner Brook, NL, Canada. He died on September 14, 2018, leaving behind many people who were touched by his life, myself included. He has been described as a hero, for he truly was a hero, and not only because of his actions during the Second World War as well as the Korean War.

When I went to his house to interview him I was a little nervous. I had no idea what kind of story I would write. I only knew a few small details about this man, but I knew he was a well-loved and respected member of our community. I remember his warm welcome when I arrived and his kindness and hospitality. I didn’t have a set list of questions. I had met and spoke with him briefly on another occasion and looked forward to a casual chat with this man who had intrigued me.

He had a way of making people comfortable, of easing any discomfort and making one feel like an old friend. Here is what I remember about that day that was not published in the story I wrote. You see, my editor had zeroed in on the Colonel’s heroic act in St. John’s during the Second World War – an act that was not recognized until sixty-six years later! But what stands out in my memory was his genuine humanity, his kindness, and his concern for all people.

Many people are horribly altered by the experience of war, the Colonel (as he was known locally) did not seem to be. What he seemed to most want people to know was that war is an awful thing. He had seen terrible atrocities during his assignments. He spoke about visiting schools on Remembrance Day and doing his best to deliver his message about the horrors of war and how it should be avoided at all costs. He became very sober, and sad, as he related this to me.

He showed me many photographs and he showed me his medals, of which he was rightly proud. He laughed when he showed me the citation from the government lauding his heroic actions that saved many lives in St. John’s. He found it amazing that he would be remembered for something that had happened so long ago.

The Colonel was a gentle man, humble, and down to earth. His life touched so many people, both at home and abroad. His courage and bravery are commendable. However, I think it is his faith, his kindness, and his intense respect for life that made the deepest impact. He was the kind of person who many seek to emulate, including me. I was blessed to spend time in the company of a truly great man.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and get to know a little about the man we called the Colonel. He will be missed and remembered with great fondness. May he Rest in Peace.

http://www.thewesternstar.com/news/local/heroic-act-recognized-66-years-later-korean-war-veteran-richard-alexander-honoured-for-putting-his-life-on-the-line-115722/

 

American Influence


Stephenville NL RESIZED 2

Here in Canada we are inundated with media message from our neighbour in the south, from news to movies, songs to magazines, business and trade, we are steeped in American culture. And it’s not bad, really. It just is. Canada is a huge country, but has nowhere near the population that  America does, nor even a fraction of its power. Many people around the world see little difference between our two countries. Yet, there are distinctive difference such as the idea of America as a ‘melting pot” where all cultures are assimilated into the dominant culture. Conversely Canada celebrates multi-culturalism and protects many rights and freedoms in the Charter of Rights.

I grew up in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. My home was on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. During World War II the Americans built an air force base in Stephenville – a coastal town close to the rural area where we lived. My father worked on the base and often invited American friends to our home for a Sunday dinner.

When President Kennedy was assassinated my father wept copious tears at what ‘they’ did to ‘our’ president. This was repeated when Senator Robert Kennedy was murdered. American politics were often discussed by my Dad and his cronies. When I was a small child I thought we were American! Not hard to understand with frequent letters coming from my paternal aunt in Vermont and another in Detroit. In addition, the province had fairly recently joined confederation making it the youngest province in the country.

I was still living in Newfoundland when the events of 9/11 brought several planes to land at our airport. Stephenville boasts an international airport, the runway built by the Americans during the war. It was a very sad time for local people who had known many American friends – some of which maintained summer homes all over the island and continue to visit annually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Canadian and deeply love ‘our home and native land’. But I fully recognize the huge influence the U.S.A. has had and continues to have on my country.

Ruminating on Autumn


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Autumn is just about upon us. The days are growing shorter. As summer draws to a close I feel sad. Sad that I did not make the most of the warm season. Sad, I did not languish longer under the blue skies and hot sun. Isn’t that just life – to take the days for granted as though they are infinite. But like summer itself, life is short. We tend to take it for granted until something terrible happens. Perhaps that is the silver lining and the lesson in tragedies – they make us aware of the fragility of life.

I have been thinking a lot about my brother. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle in November of 2016. Sudden death is always horrible. It rocks your world and turns everything upside down. I know I am far from alone in experiences such as this. What is it about seasonal change that brings out such maudlin thoughts? And have you ever noticed that there are far more deaths in fall and winter than the rest of the year? Strange.

But I don’t want to be a downer. Chris was a very funny guy. I miss him. However, I will cease to ruminate on the sadness his death brought and focus instead on his many gifts. He was also very thoughtful and generous with a sunny nature. I wish there were more people like him.

Yet, we are all unique with precious gifts of self to offer. Whether we are artistic, creative, or just plain kind – we each have a gift to bring. My sister says she has no talent. But she’s wrong. She has a wonderful gift for helping people. She works in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in a fairly large city. She is well suited to her work as she is endlessly patient and forgiving, as well as wise and compassionate.

Whatever work you may do. Wherever you may live. I hope you recognize your talents, and that others do as well. I hope you know you matter and your life does make a difference.  I hope you rock this world with loving kindness and that you know kindness! Until next time – Cheers!

Waiting


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Waiting

Waiting

Breathing softly

Deeply relaxing

Waiting

The answers come

Slowly, at times

And like a rush of wind

At others

Waiting

Time stands still

In this moment

At this time

And I luxuriate

Indulging

Being

Waiting

From where will come


From where will come

A helping hand for

Stooped shoulders

Too weary to carry on

Muscled arms too weak to lift

The burden carried too long

Hushed lips

That speak no more

Words failed

To move hardened hearts

And the mouth that once sweetly sang

Silenced

 

From where will come

New strength, new hope

Eyes downcast

Spirit broken

Hope lost

Heart broken

 

From where will come

A heart to love and understand

Abandoned and forgotten

The child of war and poverty

Kneels alone

From where will come

Helping hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

New life, new reasons to celebrate


“The littlest feet make the biggest footprints on our hearts.” – Author unknown

I woke up this morning to the happy news that my niece had her baby girl. Life is so wondrous and so precious. This is my brother’s first grandchild and her birth has been much anticipated. She has given us something wonderful to focus on and a much-needed break from the jumble of emotions this past 18 months have been. If you follow this blog you know my brother was killed by an impaired driver a year and a half ago. This precious child is bringing healing and a new focus on the joys of life. While I am saddened that Chris is not here to hold this precious baby, I am rejoicing that she has arrived safe and sound and both mother and child are recuperating from the rigors of childbirth. Yes, life is fragile, but life is also very, very good.

God’s sense of humour


IMG_6283with god resized

When we had to move from the home I loved I was extremely disappointed. It was not so much the house itself, but the location. There were several mature trees on the lot and it was right across the road from a nature trail. And so, I prayed about it. ‘Please, God, help us find a home that suits our needs. Send me a sign when we find the right place.’  The new place is lovely – much roomier than our previous abode. I have to say the location is not nearly as ideal, but I had neglected to add ‘must have mature trees and lots of birds’. At any rate when we came to look at this house we moved into I had to laugh for on the wall were several biblical quotes, including “With God all things are possible”. Needless to say, we took the place.

But I have been missing the birdsong and the variety of winged visitors I had enjoyed at the previous address. Then a couple of weeks ago a pair of American robins built their nest in a flower box situated on the railing of my next-door neighbor’s front steps. It is literally a few feet away from us and I can watch her from the window very easily. It is as though the creator read my mind and granted me the beauty of watching this mama robin. A few days ago, the eggs hatched and now we are treated to scenes of both parents delivering food to their chicklets.

God goes by many names and concepts – whatever you may believe, I hope you see evidence of the creator at work and enjoy the wonderful sense of humor. I am grateful and feeling very blessed.

Fragility of Life


I woke up this morning and after my usual morning routine I opened Facebook. One of the first posts I saw was a news story about a wildfire burning approximately 120 km from here. I live in Fort McMurray and I was here when the wildfires swept through the city and caused an evacuation of about 88,000 people – many of whom never returned. Not a good start to the day (the news story I mean). It made me anxious. The next post I saw was about snow in Newfoundland, my native home. All I could think was I would trade the hot, arid weather we’ve been having for snow any time. At least I wouldn’t be concerned about a wildfire with that lovely white moisture falling from the skies. The weather network is forecasting rain on Saturday – just a couple of days from now. I hope we get a good downfall – one that really soaks the earth.

Last month I was reading news stories about flooding in various regions of the country and I guess those people would have been happy for the sun to come out and dry up all that excess water. Life is a funny thing. We always seem to want what other people have, but after the wildfires of 2016 I will forgive myself for that. There is still too much evidence of the devastation all over the city, so, yes, snow is preferable in my mind. It’s only May after all. Yet the temperatures have been in the 25 to 30+ Celsius range all week. I will be glad for the cooler temps promised for next week. Step outside our door and you will smell the smoke in the air – again, I dislike it intensely.

Still, I am a lot less anxious than I was a year ago, so that’s something. Last evening, I went to the funeral home to pay respects to a man we know who recently died. And to offer what comfort I could to his wife and my dear friend. Life is so fragile and so precious. Death certainly puts things in perspective. Fire, floods, earthquakes, etc. are part of life. So too is death – it comes to each of us and is our one and only guarantee. Today I hope to live my life in such a way that it is a help and maybe even a blessing for others. That is my prayer and my fervent wish.