A STORY OF REMEMBERING

Remembrance Day has always been a very significant day for me!  From the time I was a very young child, this special day was a day of honour, grief, joy and silence.
My father was a World War II Veteran and our Remembrance Day would always start with honouring those who have gone before us who are us by observing Two Minutes of Silence while listening to the radio, or once I was in school, it meant observing this in the classroom or gymnasium with a whole group of giggling students.  In my case I always took the observance of Remembrance Day very seriously!
My Father had taught us well.
On this day I would like to share with you the story of my father and what I believe honouring him, and others who have passed is all about for me.
My dad was a very quiet, gentle and peace loving human being.  His father was a Minister, who left the ministry to become a fur trader on an Indian Reserve.  This is where my father was born and was raised until he was 14 years old.  My grandfather had Parkinsons/Polio,  and  his physical needs required a quieter and easier life because walking was difficult for him.  They moved to a small town where he became the postmaster, and my father pulled him back and forth to work in a little  wagon.  That was my fathers job, and he performed this job well.  I always remember the gentleness and caring of my father throughout my entire life, with the exception of Remembrance Days!  This was the day that my father went out with some other War Veterans and usually ended up with him arriving home very drunk and spending the night upset and ill. This day always brought back many memories that he had great difficulty coping with.
From a very young age I learned to question what his life must have been like for him.  He was on the front lines, he was young, newly married, shipped to a foreign country, given a gun, lived in tents, on foreign soil and was expected to shoot other human beings.  This man who pulled his father back and forth to work in a wagon not too many years prior to joining the army, was expected to fight for his country, and kill other people.
This became very clear to me when I was about 8 years old and a German family moved into the house next door to us.  My father was very quietly upset and as he talked  about how difficult this was for him because the man next door was also a war veteran and his greatest concern was that he had possibly shot at him while he was fighting for his country.  Each time they talked, being the sensitive child I was,  I could feel the discomfort radiating from both of them because of where they had been.  My father never lived a day of his life without those memories, although he would never talk about them with us.  He stated “there are just some things you don’t and will never talk about in your life!”  My war experiences are mine, I am not proud of what I had to do,  and I will not share them or talk about them with anyone who wasn‘t there!  He kept this part of his life private and personal until his death.  This is where the story gets very interesting.   My mother and father took a holiday to Eastern Canada many years ago to visit family and my mother had always wanted to visit the war memorial!  They spent a few days visiting , sightseeing and scheduled a time for the visit that my mother had planned for many years.  She believed that this would be a great thing for my father to do now  because my father had retired and he would be able to give thanks to all of those he fought with who did not return home.   He, on the other hand,  believed that it was important to do this for my mothers sake because she too had gone through the war that created separation and she had  birthed and raised a child on her own until he returned.   In reality my father did not want to follow through with the plan to visit the war memorial honouring his fallen comrades. The remembering those years of war was just too painful and too much for him to cope with.   The morning of the visit to the memorial my father got up, had his morning coffee while sitting in his hotel room in Ottawa preparing for the big day at the War Memorial.
As he sat with my Mother talking about his morning, his memories, and his family, my oldest brother who was born while my father was Fighting in the War,who had come to visit them in Ottawa who had just left to go back to the Maritimes, it all ended!
All of a sudden he fell backwards on his chair and immediately died from a massive heart attack!    He made a strong impact on me through his death!
This gentle, peace loving and kind man died instantly, the day he was to visit the War Memorial in the Journey’s End Hotel in Ottawa, Canada.  His actions spoke louder than his words on this day!
His last request was to be buried in his army jacket, so his ashes were wrapped in the jacket and as he was laid to rest the importance of World Peace was indelibly imprinted in my mind!
In memory of all of those who have passed fighting for us all in the name of freedom, even when it is totally against their personal values and beliefs!
“Whitebird”

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