With November comes Remembrance Day and remembrance of my family…

Every year it rolls around, I think about the unimaginable horror, sacrifice, the men and woman of our armed forces have made on our behalf.

I recently read the short WWII war diary of a Canadian Métis solider James Brady, as he took part in the campaigns in Europe.  How he landed on the beaches of France, then over a year made his way, with his artillery company, though the tough fight and to the defeat of the German army.  There are many diaries of war, but I felt Brady’s humanity and socialist beliefs shine through and gave these diaries a unique look into the soul of a man having to deal with the horrors of war.  You can read the “James Brady War Diary” here: http://www.metismuseum.ca/resource.php/03832

This morning on my walk to work I ran across the man who sells poppies at the corner of Robson and Seymour every year.  He was standing in the pouring rain, dressed in what looks like an antique WWI uniform.  Every time I see him my heart jumps.  He looks just like my dad.  The slim frame, gray hair, arched back.  He’s been on this corner for years and each year I give him a toonie and he, with a shaky hand, pins it on my lapel.  Then I always walk away misty-eyed, memories of my dad’s hand on my shoulder.  My father passed away on November 9, 2004.

November has some memories I’ll never forget.  It was in early November in 1998 when our family gathered in Edmonton.  My sister Marion had with cancer and we learned a new word: metastasized.  We gathered around her in that, cold room.  I remember staying up the whole night, a lot of it holding her hand.  I was batting my own secular spirituality, asking god to either cure her or be merciful and do that which I couldn’t bring the words, or even the thoughts to say.  That morning we gathered.  All of us except for two brothers, a sister and my mom and dad, all gathered to wait.  I’ll never forget the last moments.  I won’t describe them except this: it was both the most beautiful and horrendous moment I’ve ever lived through, it was November 6.

The last time I saw my mom was the first time she met my wife.  My mom was in the hospital.  Her body was slowly dying.  She was weak but lucid enough to understand us and say a few words.  I introduced my wife to my mom and she said my wife has beautiful long and black hair and just like her own when she was young.  Then I had one of those moments you’d see in a movie where the son reconciles with the dying parent.  I hadn’t seen my mom since my dad died four years before.  It’s a long story but she wasn’t there much for me, I always said that when my dad died I felt I became an orphan.  The short of it is my mom left when I was a baby and she and dad reunited when I was about to leave home.  I never had that connection to her in a mother-son way.  And it was in those last few minutes and hours with my mom that all the regrets, all the dark feelings directed towards her welled up and kicked my ass.  I felt horrible for every thought.  We returned home and a little over a month later my mom passed away, it was November 13, 2008.

So yeah, November is a month of deep emotions for me.

Title: WWI Lament
© 2010 by DC Lessoway

I stood when
My country called
When she was threatened
When she laid
In my arms bare
Tools to fight
The men
On the other side
Looking back
I wonder if
Instead of war
In peace reside
Would the millions
Be still alive
Would it all
Have made a difference?

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