Tag: tributes

Remembering Remebrance Day

As a child, I had to sit through two Remembrance Day ceremonies. The first usually took place on Nov. 10 at my school. Hundreds of students would cram in the gym and sit quietly through the familiar reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and the 23rd Psalm. Amazingly, everyone was able to remain still – even the normally fidgety ones – during the minute of silence. Somehow, the sense that this was something REVERENT had gotten through.

The second service took place at the Elks Hall. For some reason, this service had even more impact. It followed much the same program with the reading of ‘thee’ poem and ‘thee’ psalm, but there was something more. All the aging soldiers were there, medals jangling on their breasts as they marched in as best they could and sat in a place of honour near the front. After the playing of ‘Reveille’ by our local trumpet player came what was – and still is – perhaps the most moving aspect of all: Reading the roll call.

There is something very poignant about hearing name after name being called; all young men and women who fell defending democracy. The other thing that made my heart flutter was the fact that I recognized most of the surnames. Many of these last names were repeated during my morning attendance at school. You see, I come from a small prairie town where everyone knows everyone. These were relatives of people I knew; fallen soldiers that claimed Mossbank as their home.

Added to this was the fact that my hometown of Mossbank used to be home to an airbase during World War Two. A lot of air force veterans trained there during the war years, so anything military was kind of a big deal. After the war, most of the activity was moved to nearby Moose Jaw, a much larger and better equipped air base. (And currently still the home of the famous Canadian ‘Snow Birds’.) When I was a child we could watch for free as the Snow Birds did much of their flight training over our town, and you could still go exploring many of the abandoned hangers. They have since all been removed and the former base is now the home of the golf course.

When I moved away from Mossbank I continued to make attending a Remembrance Day service a part of my life. We moved a lot, so I’ve been at many different types of services. Most contain the same basis elements, but some seem more reverent than others. Still, I find it one of the most touching ceremonies, despite the sense of ‘ritual’ that it most often contains. I inevitably shed a tear or two, and usually go home to spend the rest of the day in reflection. One year I was able to take my children back to Mossbank for Remembrance Day. They were all a lot younger then, but I think it may have helped them understand the deep meaning that the day continues to hold for me. As we listened to the ‘Roll Call’, I think they may have recognized a name or two, as well.

May we never forget that these are not just story book heroes that we read about years later. They were real men and women who sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. No words can really express the gratitude that we owe. Thank you.

Interview with Jed Malloy

Neighbours Series II – Keeping Up with the Neighbours has been rolling out for several months and along with that, here is the first in a series of character interviews! Introducing Jed Malloy – the first sibling to appear in series one and the one who ‘started it all’ in series two. Enjoy!

Q: You come from a large family, correct?

A: Ya got that right, b’y! My folks had nine kids in eleven years. Not large by Newfoundland standards but large for anywhere else, I suppose. They’re devout Catholics which explains a few things, I guess. Took ‘em a few tries to figure out what was causin’ things! Just jokes.

Q: What’s the breakdown? Where do you fit in?

A: I gots one sister who’s older than me – Fanny. Then there’s me, Zeb, Mary, Sissy, Bo, Will, Reba and Pip, the youngest. The three older girls are all married and live back in Newfoundland with their families. You shoulda ‘eard Ma calling us in for supper!

Q: When did you decide to move away from Newfoundland to Alberta? Why did you move?

A: Four, maybe five years ago now? There was no work back ‘ome and I got wind of a job in Alberta so I up and made the move. Gotta go where the work is. ‘Alf of the people out west are from Newfoundland, I think. I started in the oil patch but when that didn’t pan out I got on at Titan – the construction company I work for now. They’re pretty good to me. Can’t complain, that’s for sure.

Q: What kind of relationship do you have with your other siblings? Are you close?

A: We’re a pretty tight bunch, I’d say. I love to ‘ate ‘em some of the time, though. That’s the cockeyed thing about family. They gets on your nerves at times but you’ll never find a Malloy who wouldn’t stand up for ‘is kin when it comes down to it. As far at that goes, I’d say Zeb and I are the closest. Always ‘ave been. ‘E’s cleaned my clock a time or two, I’ll ‘ave to admit, but the lummox is the best friend I got in the world, and that’s no lie.

Q: What’s it been like having some of your family come join you?

A: Great, great. Well, at times it’s a bit tryin’ when they’re all underfoot… We been squeezed into my little apartment like sardines, but that’ll change, I reckon, once some of ‘em start findin’ their own way. I’d never turn family out on the street.

Q: What’s your favourite activity? What do you do for fun?

A: Oh, let’s see… I likes to play pool and ‘ang out down at the Urban Cowboy. It’s this retro joint where a guy can ‘ave a cold one and meet up with a buddy or two. I don’t play sports if that’s what you mean! I used to like ‘unting back ‘ome but ‘aven’t ‘ad the opportunity since bein’ in the city.

Q: Would you consider yourself a good person?

A: What kind a question is that? Lard tunderin’! You come-from-aways know ‘ow to ask the dumbest questions I ever ‘eard! I went to Catholic school for my whole education so I guess that counts for something.

Q: Fair enough. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

A: No. This interview ‘as made me thirsty, though. I’m gonna go down to the Urban Cowboy and see if my buddy Lester wants to shoot a game of pool before the night is through.

Q: You mean Lester Tibbett?

A: Course that’s who I mean. Are ya stun? Lester and me live in the same building and work for the same outfit. He’s a real good sort.

Q: We’ve met him previously.

A: Then why the dumb question? Lard of a duck! Anyway, is this ‘ere interview over yet? I’ve developed an awful thirst…

Read the series on Amazon!

Vol 1 – Neighbourhood Tangle – JED

Vol 2 – Neighbourhood Watch – BO

Vol 3 – Neighbourhood Rebel – REBA

Vol 4 – Neighbourhood Upstart – PIP

Vol 5 – Neighbourhood Freedom – WILL

Vol 6 – Neighbourhood Cupid – ZEB

Vol 7 – Neighbourhood Wrap – FINALE

 

Check out the other interviews:

Bo, Reba, Pip, Will, Zeb

Legacy of Words

Why do I love words?

I often cite the time as a young mother I borrowed my mother’s old typewriter and thus began my love affair with writing. I’ve also written about the time I wrote my first play back in Grade Four and how that impacted me to write and direct in the future. Or I’ve mentioned my high school English teacher who encouraged me to write and gave me that small seed of hope that I really could be a writer some day. But I think the love of words and beautiful language goes much farther and deeper than any of these incidents.

My grandmother loved reading and could quote long passages from the likes of Longfellow and Shakespeare. She was the ‘go to’ person when any member of the family needed a poem to recite for public speaking. (We did that in those days…) I can still see her, eyes closed, as she recited the first lines of Evangeline, Longfellow’s epic poem.

'Evangeline'

‘Evangeline’

“This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pine and the hemlock, bearded in moss, in garments of green, indistinct in the twilight.” 

The words were haunting and beautiful. She would then go on to tell the rest of the story in her own words, for it was a tale too long for little children.
The impact was profound. I read the poem to my own children one year when we homeschooled and were studying Canadian history. Then, a few summers later, we visited Nova Scotia and the fabled site of Evangeline’s tragic tale. I now have a granddaughter named Evangeline – not by coincidence, I suspect. (Here is a painting I did entitled ‘Evangeline’ which I gave to my daughter.)

Reading books to children and telling them stories has a huge impact. Never belittle the bedtime story or the importance of sharing words with your children and grandchildren. It has lasting effects.

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