Wednesday, August 29, 2018


My father was the hero I never knew.  He did his best to shepherd Displaced Persons (DPs) from WWII to safe havens at the end of that war, and died in 1952, a few months past his 47th birthday, of his second heart attack, suffered because of the work he did in military government, seconded to the British Army of the Rhine and trying to give refugees a fair shake in the face of Communist Russia.

My step-father was a hero too.  As a Sergeant in the Canadian Black Watch, Royal Highland regiment, he lost two (2) fingers off his right hand and took a bullet through the same arm "somewhere in France" in WWII -- and never talked about it. 

His father died "somewhere in France" in WWI -- 1916 -- leaving behind 3 sons; the youngest -- my step-father -- was aged 2.

Viet Nam was the war being waged when I was in my teens.  I knew that some of the young men in our area -- 16 miles north of the Canada/US border -- went 'south' to sign up and get an education and training in the US Army.  I don't know their names (most were older than I) but...there are those who do.

I couldn't understand that war, and know now -- almost 50 years later -- that many couldn't.  I had rip-roaring arguments about it with my step-father who, having served (and lost) so much,  believed that if/when your country called, you should go.  Even if you had no clear reason (like stopping Hitler) why.

In my early university days I dated a fellow (I still think of him often, and fondly) whose parents were from the U.S. and had moved to Montreal, where his older brother and he were born.  At 18 he renounced his right to US citizenship, in favour of being Canadian -- and a few months later he -- an employee of Canada's Militia that does the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa every summer -- found himself guarding our Governor General's home in Ottawa in the midst of the October Crisis, as part of our government's calling on the War Measures Act in the face of terrorism perpetrated at the time by French Canadian nationalists.

He was a hero too.

But the greatest hero in my life was the one I married, the one I knew best, the one who lived with a terminal, incurable illness for almost 47 years.  He loved me, he loved our children, he inspired all of us to be better than we ever thought we could be.

He found his faith later in his life.  He knew he was blessed.  He honoured his parents -- and he honoured me and his children.

He had many friends. 

Living with him in his last decade was indescribably difficult, especially for his children.

There are no easy roads for heroes.

Today, as I see photos of Mrs. McCain paying tribute to her husband Senator John McCain, another hero -- one about whom she will tell stories as I do about mine -- all I want to say to her is:

"I've travelled your road.  Our husbands lived very different lives, experienced very different challenges and traumas.  They were, each in his turn, heroes -- particularly to those who knew them best.

"I hold you in my prayers and in my arms as a companion who has loved a hero, who has children to comfort and stories to tell.

"May God bless you and keep you; may God's light shine upon you and be gracious to you; may S/He lift the light of God's countenance to you and give you Her/His peace, power and love."  AMEN.

1 comment:

Judy Warner said...

Beautifully expressed, Margaret.