About a week ago I went to my home town, Moosomin Saskatchewan, with a friend. I went to ask some questions, have some quiet and a break from reality. Moosomin is and always has been my go-to place for rest and recharging. I gave my friend a tour of the town and introduced her to some of my family. I was reminded that my Great Uncle had been moved back to the nursing home in town. My Dad’s Uncle and Aunt, among other siblings and friends, were there for my Mom and family when my Dad was killed. They took my sister home with them the day it happened. They helped with the farming, babysitting and paperwork and later with moving.
I remember going to their house often as a kid. I loved it there. They were so kind and open to us. I remember my Great Uncle sitting in the living room watching TV while we sat chatting in the kitchen. I would sneak in behind his recliner but was too nervous to sit with him. I was very afraid of almost all men, even when I knew them. I noticed his tattoos on his arms and I was fascinated by them – I didn’t know anyone else with tattoos. At one point I asked my Mom why he had drawings on his arms and she told me they were from WWII. He was a soldier and been in France. He got tattoos with the other soldiers. I had never really heard about the war, much less known someone who had been there. As I grew up I wanted to ask him questions but I didn’t know if it was too painful for him to talk about it. In the nineties he and my Aunt went back to France to where he fought but I was still too shy to ask him about it.
As he got older he really enjoyed going to the school for the Remembrance Day assembly to help keep the memory alive and ensure the next generation didn’t forget. He loved to see the kids participating.
Now in his 90’s, my Great Uncle is losing his eye sight and some of his memory from a fall he had a few years ago. I hadn’t seen him in a few years and I wasn’t sure of his memory – or if he would even know me. But I went and I’m glad I did. He got me confused with my sister who visited him last spring and he asked me a few questions several times but over all he knew who I was. I was the “little one”. He asked me to sit and rolled over in his wheelchair so he could see me better. He noticed my poppy and told me about the wreath that the legion had dropped off earlier. And I could see his mind went back in time for a few minutes and all he said was, ”Oh that was a time.” And shook his head a little as if to shake away the memories. He held my hands and asked about my husband, children and my life. He spoke about his wife who passed away just before my Mom 4 years ago. He couldn’t remember how many children I had moment to moment but he remembered that it would be his wife’s birthday in a few days and then Remembrance Day and what they would have done during that week. 60 years later the war is still very prevalent in his mind. His hope is that we won’t forget. I promised him that I would remember and make sure that my children remember.
I am so thankful for my Great Uncle and all whom have served to protect our freedom. I am also thankful that Canada started peacekeeping in the 1950’s. Above all I believe in working for peace and I’m thankful for those that are there when our peace is needing to be defended.