Monday, October 10, 2011

turkey monday

Today is for thanks.

I want to thank my grandmother for driving with me to Nazko and sharing with me the following story... I will add the thanksgiving dinner that my mom made was good - the pumpkin pie was great (totally treated after my run) and that my run was fantastic.  The first 5 km went so smoothly - I was shocked.  I made it 5.4 km in 36 minutes, but at the turn my joints began to take offence to the gravel road and were outraged that we had to return on the same path.  In the end I completed 10.8km in 80 minutes... so you can see that there was a delay in the return, but it was good - it was better than good.  (Oh and it was plus 2 and cold... but my body warmed up after about 4 km... phew)

My grandmother shared with me how she met my grandfather today and while I think I've read about it before (as she has a journal about her life) she didn't go into the kind of detail that she went into today.  Her brother Freddie was badly injured in the war and, in her words, he was kicked so hard in the back that he got cancer from it, cancer that would kill him.  Freddie was returned home to England and she went to see him everyday in the hospital as his parents didn't - so every day she would spend a minimum of 25 minutes talking to him and the other soldiers who had been paralyzed by fighting in the war.  One of the orderlies working on the floor was my grandfather - Steve - (I actually asked her - could she tell me the story of how she and my grandfather met and she gave me this look and then I said - tell me how you and Steve met and then she started).  She eventually took a job in the same hospital - different ward and so she could visit more often and also see Steve in passing.  And then one day, as they did every day, she arrived to say the 'our father's' prayer.  Steve walked in and told her it was no good.  He was already gone.  Freddie had died.   (I know - how awful - her war stories are shocking and I'm so glad we live in a country that is so peaceful and that I've never had to even think about a bomb going off or hitting my home or my country... but I digress)

So my grandmother went home and told her family that her brother had died.  She returned to the hospital and my fantastic grandfather says to her... gees, you look awful.  She told me this with a laugh - she said she will never forget him saying that to her.  He followed this up with an invitation to a dance.  What I didn't know is that my grandfather was an amazing dancer - amazing - she said that the two of them use to lead the dances.  She loved him so much.  And friends - this story is going to get a hell of a lot sadder... so hold on to your seats - I'm not sure how I held it together in the car.

She talked about his "awful" comment and that the dancing sealed the deal - it was love at first sight, in her mind, and she talks about her loss and how life has never been the same - it made my heart ache for her.  I can see her sadness and he has been gone for over 20 years, close to 30.

So how does this story end.  She told me about a trip they'd planned across Canada.  That he'd always wanted to do it and even though he'd been sick he wanted to go.  He told her to plan the trip - all the stops - and so she picked out funky places to stop and rest and sights to see and she spoke of the fantastic places in Canada that they just picked there way through.  A giant Ukrainian easter egg outside of Edmonton, Winnipeg (probably saw the dirty hoe... ok - that's for my 'Corner Gas' fans), Lake Superior, Ottawa, Quebec City, Sydney and onto Nova Scotia.  She had wanted to see a fort that was opening - and in the car, they'd had a fight because Steve was adamant that they get to Hawkesbury Nova Scotia - that that was where he wanted to stop.  Now since she was planning the trip she was a bit miffed at the entire situation... but at the end of the discussion she agreed to carry on and forgo the fort.  As they drove closer to Hawkesbury my grandfather said to her that he couldn't drive any further - his last words - and he drove the truck (double clutch) into the ditch.  He died.  And she tried to save him.  She took him out of the truck and tried to do CPR on the side of the road.  She said that she thinks he was gone before he left the truck - looking back. A vehicle stopped and asked if they could help and she told him to get an ambulance to come.  Another vehicle stopped - it was a nurse - who promptly told  my grandmother that she was doing CPR incorrectly and took over - telling my grandmother to count.  And so she counted.  The next car that stopped was actually the town coroner who waited for the ambulance to arrive - but the paramedics didn't know CPR and so the nurse stayed with them.  My grandma said they did this because they don't like people dying on the sides of the road in Nova Scotia.

And so she went to the hospital and they did an autopsy and the police officer that spoke with her asked where she was staying that night.  She said she'd stay at the hotel and then she found out why it was important to be in Hawkesbury - you see, my grandfather, Steve, had booked a room - there was one already waiting for her - they had arrived on their wedding anniversary and he'd arranged for a special room with champagne.

My heart broke in the car.

The pain is on her face.  She laughs about the trials and tribulations of it all and she says that all she can do now is laugh about the harsh parts of life, because crying isn't worth anything.  She is 86 years and I feel so much closer to her today.  She spoke for three hours about life and harsh realities.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but the moments that take our breaths away. I have a new appreciation for this quote - I am thankful for every minute my grandmother spoke and brought me closer to her life.  Thankful.

xo my loves - xo and sweet dreams
let us be thankful every day

3 comments:

Jen said...

*hugs*

Quesnel Economic Development said...
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april said...

Thank you, Jen! This meant a lot tonight - a lot!