Category: Family Stuff

Cats in the attic and other cat tails

 

Please pardon the dual pun title. This blog post is all about the cats in my family. Currently, I have two, my brother has four, my parents have two, as do both my sisters. My wife, who loves cats is allergic, but thanks to Benadryl, she manages.

When I was a kid, I fondly remember Gypsy, a little tabby someone gave my parents. Back then, there was no such thing as spaying or neutering your cats. You simply had a cat and she had lots of kittens.

Gypsy must have been quite popular with the male kitties in our community. She managed four litters each summer. We were fortunate to know lots of people, because we gave away a lot of cats.

At one time, we had fifteen kittens at once. My sister Tammy used to carry the kittens around in beef buckets. Everywhere you looked, there was a kitten popping out of something, and it was quite hilarious at times.

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Me and mom and our cat Gypsy

We had so many cats, Dad had to do something. One day Gypsy ‘ran away’; at least, that’s what we were told. The reality was, my parents could no longer afford to keep all those kittens, and were quickly running out of people to give them to. I bet my dad still feels guilty, but (as he told us when were older) one day he took Gypsy for a car ride to the local dump. “Lots of mice and rats for her to eat here” he told mom, as they drove home.

When I got older, and my first marriage was over, I found my  home very quiet. I decided to adopt two kittens. A friend of my parents had a litter of kittens at their home, and this is where I found ‘Rascal’. Rascal was and is still one of my favourite cats. He was a little grey tabby with a white belly, and from day one, he was special; a real ‘People Cat’.

Rascal used to cry a lot, probably from being removed from his mother, so I visited a local pet shop and found him a buddy. ‘Killercat’ was a little black kitty who liked to bring knives into my bed, hence the name ‘Killercat’.

Killercat and Rascal were the best of friends, and I loved watching them play. The worst thing I ever did was get Rascal neutered. Something went wrong with the procedure, and when he came home, the stitches let go. I had to rush him back to the vet. This was the beginning of a very difficult time for both myself and for Rascal as well. Once they did the ‘fix’, he had problems with his urinary tract, and after spending the next three years traveling to and from the vet clinic, my beautiful cat had to be put ‘asleep’. I cried with him the entire night, as we had to wait until morning to bring him into the vet.

The Vet suggested putting him on strong medication, but when asked if the medicine would ‘cure him’ or just prolong his pain, I decided to do the humane thing and let the vet put my little buddy to sleep. This was very difficult, but when you agree to be a pet owner, I believe you have to do things like this sometimes.

Killercat was devastated when his buddy didn’t return home from the vet. All the times before, he would be waiting patiently by the front door, and when Rascal came home, Killercat would wash him and the two of them would cuddle. This time, I returned home alone. It was almost as if my cat had went into shock. He just sat there, with a lost look in his eyes, crying. I truly believe animals mourn their loved ones when they pass away, and Killercat’s reaction  proved it.

After a few months of only owning one cat, I decided to look around for a ‘friend’ for Killercat. A friend of mine told me a lady down the street from her had a litter of kittens to give away. What I found was quite the opposite.

Apparently this lady was none too smart. She always wanted a Himalayan Persian, and her new husband was quick to get her one, at a price of $800. The young un-neutered Tom Cat arrived, and seeing how the lady had to attend school that morning, she left him home with her un-spayed female tabby. Her new cat had quite the welcoming party, as in a short while, the lady was greeted by five more members of the cat family. Four of the kitties looked exactly like pure bred Himalayan kittens, but the other one didn’t.

The cruel lady took the runt of the litter, a cute little tabby with the face of a Himalayan, but the short fur of the mother, and hid her away in a cardboard box. When people came to purchase the ‘Pure Bred’ kittens, the little tabby kitten was nowhere to be seen.

When I arrived at the door, the little kitty ran to my feet. It was almost as is she was asking me to rescue her. ‘She is a bit shy, she always has been’ the owner told me. She even told me what she had done to the little cat, bragging how she sold each of the other cats in the litter for $500 each. She didn’t want anything for this one, who  I named ‘Misty’.

Misty was very shy, as I expected. Killercat hated her. They never got along, and Misty chose to live her life in the basement, often hidden away. She was never cross, and could be pet by only certain people. She also never grew. She is as tiny now as she was in 2002.

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Killercat and Misty

Killercat, on the other hand, was never the same cat as he used to be when Rascal was alive. He had gotten so cross, I didn’t trust him around anyone but myself. Although he was the prettiest thing, with his big green eyes and the totally black fur that covered his body, I urged people not to get close. He actually bit a few of my friends.

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The Infamous Killercat

When I met my wife, Killercat tried his dominance with her as well, but was surprised when she stood her ground. It was as if he appreciated this, and the two became very close. He never growled or threatened to bite her again.

A few years later, Killercat began to have trouble with his urinary tract. A few costly trips to the vet and not many results, I decided to put an end to his suffering. As before, I had a difficult time with this, but the thought of him crying at night was too much for me. I brought him in to the vet, and surprisingly, she actually suggested putting him to sleep.

When I got home, I told my wife “No More Cats!” I said that once Misty passes on, I don’t want cats in my home again. It is just too hard when you have to put them down.

That evening, while watching TV, I heard a cat meowing loudly. My wife and I ran to the basement to check on Misty. I thought for sure she was the next to go, but she was as content as ever, sleeping in her little bed. Again we heard the sound, and knew it couldn’t have been Misty.

I ran outside to discover a tiny, skinny little tabby hiding under the front tire of my truck. I sat on the ground and called the little thing over, and although hesitant, he came to me. My wife came out with a bowl of cat milk (No, we didn’t milk a female cat and fill a jar, this is actually a pet product, a low lactose milk made especially for cats).

The little thing didn’t know what milk was, but when I put my finger in the bowl and then held it in front of him, he soon learned. I had to count my fingers to see if he had ate one or not. He drank five bowls of milk before cuddling into my lap.

“You know what you said, NO MORE CATS” my wife reminded me, knowing how the little thing had already won his way into my heart.

“Where will we keep him? We can’t leave him out here, its starting to rain” I pleaded. “We can take him in, I will get a kennel” My wife offered.

Well, once he made his way into the house, there was no going back. We had just adopted (Bought) a little Sheltie puppy, and worried at her reaction to the little kitten. We didn’t have to worry much, as the two of them became the best of friends.

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Chance and Marley

We named the little kitty Emily. This name didn’t stick, mainly due to my cousin informing us that ‘Emily’ was much more like a ‘Elmer’; so Emily quickly became ‘Chance’. We chose this name because it was only by Chance he showed up at our door that night.

I have to say, Chance is the best cat I ever had. Of course he doesn’t get along with Misty, who still lives in the basement, but he is as much a ‘People cat’ as Rascal was. In many ways, he reminds me of Rascal.

Chance spends nights in the basement, but as soon as I wake, he is quick to come upstairs and greet me. He stands on his tippy toes and meows so that I can bend down. Upon me doing this, he kisses me. He has to have his kiss from both me and my wife every morning. In the evenings, he likes to cuddle with my wife on the couch, or run and tease the dogs and get them to chase him. From time to time, you can see him hanging from the neck of Marley, our sheltie. They play all the time.

You can still find Misty here as well. She is the oldest cat in my family, but she still looks like a kitten. She comes out more lately, possibly due to her love for my wife. Misty gets so excited when my wife pets her, she drools, which my wife is also allergic to.

If you have never had the pleasure of owning a cat, you certainly don’t know what you are missing. I love cats, always have, always will.

Oh, I almost forgot, the title ‘Cats in the attic’ relate to a story about one of my brother’s cats. My brother was having work done on his house, and one of the carpenters left the attic door open. My brother had this huge cat named Tiger, who was, like most cats, quite curious. Without being noticed, Tiger climbed the ladder and ran into the attic. The carpenter, who was unaware of this, closed the attic door and removed the ladder.

When my brother arrived home, he looked everywhere for his cat, and was mortified how maybe he got out when the carpenter may have entered the house. After spending hours outside looking for his cat, my brother had to face the obvious. His cat had ran away. He was almost in tears when suddenly he began to hear meows coming from above. My brother explained how he believed he was losing his mind, but soon came to the suspicion that maybe the cat was really above, in the attic. When he opened the attic door, the huge cat leapt out and ran for the bed for safety. A big relief for both my brother and especially for his cat.

 

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Chance thinking he is going on vacation with us

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Where’s Waldo I mean Chance

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Me and my good buddy

 

cars my dad drove

I was talking to my dad yesterday, and he expressed how he just loves his current car. He drives a 2005 Pontiac Vibe he purchased used in 2009. The car has served him well, always dependable, never breaking down. It gives us peace of mind for him to have a car as worthy as this one.

some of Dad’s cars weren’t so favourable. (Yes that word is spelled right, if you live in Canada, so WordPress, I am ignoring your little red line).

My dad’s last car was a Hyundai Elantra. The thing spent more time at various garages than it spent in his driveway. The windows wouldn’t roll down, the transmission slipped, and the electrical was constantly a problem. He was lucky to sell that one.

Dad was never one to ask much for his cars. He put the Elantra for sale for $200. This bozo comes up and asks if the car comes with a warranty. It was a 2002 for crying out loud. The guy asks my dad to Guarantee the car will successfully travel from Newfoundland to Toronto; of course my dad gave no such guarantee. Luckily we never heard from the guy again, so I guess the car did make it.

Before the Elantra, my dad drove Toyota Tercel. What a great little car that was! I believe the car was a 1996. The car was the wagon version, and boy was it handy. My dad carried everything from lumber to laundry, and the car always started first click of the key. He would still have it, but our Newfoundland winters and the enormous amount of salt took its toll on the little Japanese car. My dad was sad to sell the car, but the guy who bought it said he transferred the engine to two more cars and the little motor is probably still running.

The Tercel was certainly an upgrade from the 1982 Chevy Citation. This was one of the first front wheel drive vehicles my dad owned, as well as it being one of the first front drivers Chevy built. Although the little v6 engine was powerful, the car was troublesome. Again, being a station wagon (they called it a hatchback), my dad used the thing like a truck.

Before the Citation, dad had an old Chevy Nova. Piece of crap. I should know, I had one as well. A 1976 Nova, the thing was constantly broke down. We later used the car to bring us back and forth to the woods, where we worked together as pulp cutters. The car fell apart on the road one day.

Dad didn’t pay anything for the Nova. Instead, he traded his 1972 Dodge Club cab Pickup for it. The old Dodge. I have fond memories of the truck. When Dad purchased it, it had a green patina paint job. These days the hot rodders would have left it that colour (spelled correctly in Canada), but my dad hated the colour. My uncle volunteered to give it a ‘psychedelic’ paint job.

As you laugh, you must remember, this was the late 1970’s, so driving around in a two tone blue truck with paint highlights around the windows similar to a ‘tie dye’ t-shirt was somewhat cool. Okay, not really, but the paint job was free, and my Uncle Albert got to brag about his outlandish paint scheme. He actually coined the term ‘psychedelic paint job’.

I believe my dad’s second favourite car was the 1972 Ford Cortina. A little British Import, my dad loved this little car. Despite being second hand, the car was in beautiful shape, and ran like a top, as my dad put it. I remember sitting in the car, and pretending to drive around. It was light blue in colour, and I can still remember how proud my dad was to drive such a nice car. Our cold damp Newfoundland winter was quick to destroy the little car. I guess British cars and road salt didn’t make a very good combination.

Before this car, Dad drove a 1967 Ford Falcon. We have pictures of the snow white Ford. I can’t remember whether it was a two or four door, but I do remember a story about the car.

My dad bought the little car used. He and our neighbour agreed to fix it up and give it a new paint job. When they attempted to remove the left front fender, they were surprised to find it difficult to remove, until our neighbour discovered the fender was nailed to a 2×4 that was nailed to the chassis. Some backyard mechanic actually used lumber to hold the car together. Good thing we didn’t have termites on the island, or else my dad’s car would have been eaten before the rust could have did its job.

I know before this car my dad drove a terrible little fiat. The Fiat 500 was so slow, my dad had to back up hills in order to climb them. The exhaust constantly leaked in through the holes in the floor. I don’t remember much about this car other than what dad says now.

I don’t remember much before that, but my dad talks about a few of his other cars, such as a ’55 Pontiac, and a Nash. He says the Nash once had a flat, so he filled the tire with sand and drove it home. He still talks about the rough ride.

He tells another story about the Nash. The four door was a bit rough, and lacked certain body parts, namely rear door handles. He tells a story of a time in which he and a few friends were driving on a slippery winter day. The hill he was climbing was very steep and icy, and when the car began sliding backwards, one of the passengers got scared and said ‘Bail Out!’. My dad opened his door (the only door with a handle on it) and jumped from the car. The passengers all attempted to do the same, but the lack of door handles caused them to endure the ride backwards down the steep hill, and into the ditch at the bottom of the hill. Dad still laughs about that to this day.

In those days, cars didn’t have to pass inspection tests, which was lucky for my dad, not so lucky for his passengers. It sure is nice to see my dad in a safe car, with all the door handles.

 

 

Curn: A Tribute to my Uncle

A tall, slender man with a big heart, my Uncle Curn (his real name was Cornelius) was a brilliant man. He could talk politics with the best of them and he really knew how to spin a yarn. Whether he was humming a tune by his favourite singer John White or tying flies to go salmon fishing, the man was always in good spirits.

He lost an eye cutting pulp when he was just a young man, but the accident never affected his love for the forest. He spent his best days in the woods, often alone, setting rabbit snares or finding new spots to cut firewood.

Uncle Curn was a plumber/pipefitter by trade, but his true love was fishing. My uncle truly loved salmon fishing, and he spent most of his free time along the rivers of Western Newfoundland, especially at Harry’s River and Southwest Brook.

Mom said that as a child, her brother loved taking things apart. She said the only thing wrong with that was that he rarely put them back together. She recalls him disassembling the family’s old phonograph player. He was amazed at how the small parts made the thing work. Mom recalls the house being relatively quiet after Curn took the phonograph apart, as he didn’t put it back together right and it never worked again.

Cornelius was always game for a good chat, and there was no winning an argument with him. Mom said he was always so smart. Nobody could outfox or fool him.

My uncle was good friends with my dad even before he met my mom. I have a picture of my Uncle ‘Curn’, my Dad and my Uncle Frank that brings back memories of the good times they had as young men.

My dad married Curn’s sister, and Curn married my dad’s sister. How is that for a close family? Although my aunt’s name is Rita, my uncle referred to her simply as ‘Reet’.

They were married a few days prior to my parents, and together, Curn and Rita had a large family who they loved very much. With five boys and a girl, they had their hands full.

My uncle and aunt ran a small convenience store in my community, and I can still remember going there to buy ice cream. On one occasion, when I ordered a popsicle, and my uncle asked how I was paying, I simply said…”put it on my tab…and that’s what he did.

I remember one time, my uncle called and asked if I would like to accompany him and his son on a fishing trip. I was excited to go, and of course mom said yes. He said not to worry about anything, because my uncle never worried. He was the most carefree person I ever knew.

His old green Chevy truck pulled into my dad’s driveway, and me and his son Ronnie squat next to him. As we traveled to the river, my uncle told us stories, and made the two of us laugh all the way.

When we got to the river, my uncle noticed that he had forgot his tent. Most people would worry, but not him. “Don’t worry, I have a roll of felt in the back. We can make a bough camp and put the felt on top if it rains” he assured us.

“Besides, it won’t rain, it is sunny and not a cloud in the sky” he said.

It poured that night. Me and Ronnie climbed in the little shelter his dad built for us, and I must admit, with the felt on the roof, the thing was totally waterproof and even a bit comfortable.

It was comfortable until about three in the morning. This was the time I woke from my sleep, drenched in water. Apparently, Uncle Curn’s fire was going out from all the rain, so he gradually tore pieces of felt from our roof and threw them in the fire. We were soaked.

The next morning, the sun was splitting the rocks, and we didn’t take long to dry off.

The worst thing my uncle ever did was begin smoking. He truly enjoyed a good smoke, and incidentally, smoking was the thing that made his life most difficult. I don’t think I can remember seeing my uncle without either a cigarette or a pipe.

A few years back, he lost a leg due to clogged arteries. If you think losing a leg got him down, you didn’t know my uncle. I remember him telling me of how he crawled through the woods, hauling his body through the thick brush, setting rabbit snares in the fall of the year.

And who could forget the trips that he took to the river, sitting in his ATV, fishing for salmon. One leg didn’t make a difference to a man who was as resilient as my uncle.

A few months ago, the other leg began giving him trouble. Doctors attempted to free the clogs from his veins (my family have very small veins), and although the surgery was relatively successful, his heart just couldn’t take it. For the last few weeks, he has been sedated with morphine, only coming to long enough to speak to the many visitors who came to see him.

We got the call early this morning. His body could no longer withstand the pain. With most of his veins and arteries clogged, he passed away. It was a bittersweet time for my family. We knew he was in pain and suffering, so we wanted the Blessed Lord to take him away from his misery, but on the other hand, we didn’t want to lose him either. Our lives will be much emptier without him.

Uncle Curn was a great father to his kids, who all turned out to be good people. I see a bit of my uncle’s brilliance in each of his children, and my mom says that she sees a lot of him in me.

The salmon rivers will be a lot lonelier this year, as his homemade salmon flies will no longer flicker on the rushing waters. He will be missed not only by friends and family in the close knit community where he lived, but by anyone who has ever met him.

Honey’s visit

Living in a small community, we never got many visitors. We were surrounded with immediate family, mostly on my dad’s side, so nobody really had to visit I guess. My grandmother had family in Nova Scotia, and from time to time, her relatives would come to the island for a visit. We always looked forward to this.

I remember once, mom’s cousin Honey and her husband Dave came to visit. I later discovered that ‘Honey’ was a nickname, her real name was Jeanette.

I was probably around 25 at the time, and already seriously into working as a private Disk Jockey. I was getting ready to play a wedding for a young couple who recently visited, when I decided to play a few tunes, and see if they were ‘dance worthy’.

With this, mom and dad began dancing around the house. My brother and sisters hid their eyes with embarrassment, but mom and dad didn’t care. That was until mom noticed someone standing outside the picture window….with a huge video camera on their shoulder. It was Honey’s husband Dave, laughing to kill himself, as he videoed mom and dad dancing away. Of course, (if my memory serves me correctly), his laughter was short lived….he forgot the lens cap on his camera. (If this was not the case, I would love a copy of the video) Too bad, this would have made a great video for mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago.

 

 

peppermint leaves

I had a dream last night. I was little again. I was sitting in the tall grass at my grandparents’ house. The smell of fresh mint in the air, and a gently breeze blowing in my face. My great grandmother was sitting with me. ” Chew the peppermint leaves, and then spit them out!” she said, “They make your mouth tingle!”

With a handful of gooseberries she picked from the branches of the tree that hung over the step rail, and a glass of lemonade my grandmother made for us, we had quite a time. She told me stories, mostly about the hardships she faced as a young woman, left to care for her eleven children when her husband was taken from her at just 50 years old. Tuberculosis took him, and the dreaded disease took one of their younger sons soon afterward.

To this day, whenever I smell the scent of fresh mint, I find myself back at my grandparent’s house, sitting in the tall grass, chewing mint leaves and laughing with my grandmother Josephine.

 

 

Romance in the Roots

During the last few months, I have began tracing my family tree. In the process, I have discovered so many stories. Stories of romance, tragedy, and struggle. In this, the first of the series, I bring you the tragic love story of Ralph and Mary, and how tragedy brought them together and separated them forever. Although we do not know much about Mary Foley, I am telling the story from her prospective.

“I had it all figured out back then. Leave my boring little community and head for the city. I had just finished high school and wanted to do something other than be a housewife like my mother. I did my best to stay away from the boys and concentrate on my future. My marks were high enough that I was accepted into the St. Clare Hospital School of Nursing in St. John’s Newfoundland.

I graduated top in my class and was ready to go to work. with the war just ended, there was plenty of work, and I got hired right away. I thought I would be working at St. Clare’s hospital, but that wasn’t the case. I was sent to work at the Sanitarium.

The Sanitarium was not where I wanted to work, but back in the 1940’s a girl couldn’t be too choosy where she would work, so I went. My family were outraged that I might actually get sick while working at the hospital, I didn’t blame them for worrying, since the Sanitarium was where 90% of all Tuberculosis sufferers ended up.

My first few days at work were difficult, long hours and lots of lifting made me rethink my plans for the future. I was spending so much time working, I didn’t have much time for myself.

And then one day, a young man was carried into the hospital. I still remember his curly hair and those eyes. I fell in love with him that moment.

I followed him to his room, where he was put in a tent near a window. He was quarantined so that his disease didn’t spread to anyone else. The head nurse assigned me to his bedside. Talk about lucky!

Every day, while he was treated, I was there. I held his hands while he bravely fought against the disease. He told me stories about his home back on the west coast, and  how his father died from the disease. He told me stories about his 10 brothers and sisters, and how his mother cared for them while she worked as a house cleaner for the wealthy people in the area.

On the nice days, I would open the window so that Ralph could breathe in the fresh air. This seemed to help him. The two of us would glance out at the beautiful scenery and talk about our futures and how much we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I spent every living moment I could with Ralph, and I couldn’t wait for him to leave the hospital. The doctor said that he was improving. That was hopeful enough for him to propose to me. Of course I said yes.

A few months later, the doctor said that Ralph was cured. He beat Tuberculosis. We went out on the town that day, along with a few friends we met at the hospital. What a great day. Ralph already wrote several letters to his family, telling them all about me. I could tell that he really loved me, almost as much as I loved him. We planned a fall wedding, back in Stephenville with all his family. I was excited to meet them, and Ralph said they were excited as well.

Everything was going so well, how could anything go wrong? Ralph picked up a job here in the city, and we were saving our money for the big day when suddenly my entire world came tumbling down.

This time there would be no treatment at the Sanitarium. Ralph had suffered an aneurism and died immediately.

I think I cried so much that I actually ran out of tears. My beloved Ralph, my handsome fiancé. My future. We had so many plans, and now it was over.

I wrote a letter to Ralph’s family explaining everything. They were devastated. With no money to bring Ralph’s body home, I took care of everything. I made sure he received a proper burial, and I paid for it all with the money we saved together.

They might say that Ralph didn’t have a long life, but I don’t agree. Despite being only 23 years old, Ralph managed to leave the simple country life of his siblings and travel across the province to the big city. He managed to beat a disease that killed so many, and he managed to fall in love…with me. I would say he led quite a full life. I just wish it could have been longer. I wish we could have had more time together.

I will never forget my handsome man, with his curly brown hair and beautiful eyes. I would especially never forget his voice, and how much I loved hearing him tell me how much he loved me. I miss you already Ralph.”

This is the story of my Great-Uncle Ralph White and the love affair he had with Mary Foley. Nobody knows what happened to Mary after Ralph passed away, all we have are the letters he wrote to his mother, how he expressed his love for Mary, and how he planned on making her his wife. We also have a few photos my family managed to dig up from old family albums.

 

ripping the tent

When I was a kid, weekends were a time for family. Every Saturday morning during summer vacation my parents had something planned for the family.

Saturday mornings were a time where we all got together to pack for the weekend. We didn’t travel to anywhere special, mostly to a river or maybe to a park.

We had this old canvas tent that my parents bought from Simpson Sears. The top was green and the sides were yellow. The poles weighed a ton, and the tent took forever to set up. Still, this was our weekend get-away. Dad called the tent our home away from home.

I remember once, I was playing with Dad’s pocket knife and I accidentally poked a hole in the side of the tent. I was horrified. I had ruined our summer. If Dad found out, he would be so disappointed. Dad never hit us as kids. He would just look disappointed, and for me that was worse than a trimming.

I remember that day as if it was yesterday. The tent was setup in the backyard so that my brother and I could ‘camp’ overnight, instead of sleeping in our beds. Dad had worked hard to make everything special, he had put our giant foam mattress in the tent, covered it with one of mom’s spare sheets, and put our sleeping bags in there as well. He even had our favourite comic books stacked near the bed for us. He really spoiled us.

While Dad was downtown, I went to the shed and found what I was looking for. A tube of Krazy Glue. This was the stuff the guy in the commercial used to glue his helmet to the steel beam, which held him up. That must have been some tight helmet.

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Making sure I had the tent fixed before Dad got home was important to me. I didn’t want his oldest son known for ruining summer, so I quickly opened the glue (never read instructions, who does that?), and proceeded to apply glue to the tent. I ran the stuff in a thick bead around the rip, and held it there with my finger until the glue had set.

Just then I seen my dad’s car pull into the driveway. In an effort to clear the scene and look innocent, I pulled my finger from the rip and …..well Tried to pull my finger from the rip. The glue stuck my finger to the tent. I almost pulled the tent down trying to get away, to no avail. Plus it hurt like hell.

I still remember dad coming over and asking me why I was pointing to the tent. He laughed when he realized that I wasn’t pointing to the tent, I was stuck to the tent. That stuff really held. Dad helped me get my finger free, but I think the remains of my skin stayed on that tent for many years to come.

I feel fortunate to have memories like this to tell my son. He gets a chuckle out of my stories, and sometimes he asks me how I survived.

 

Tribute to a soldier who never returned home

He was just 17 when he left, but he looked every bit of 15. With his heart set on saving the world from Nazi Germany, he joined the army. Mommy cried and so did Daddy, but he never told anybody. In those days, men were strong and didn’t go crying. I still remember Joseph walking down the concrete walkway Daddy and him poured just last summer.

Joseph  was always mommy’s favourite. She denied that she had a favourite, but we all knew better. All 7 of us kids were proud of our  brother and despite the tears, mommy and daddy were proud of him as well, plus he promised to write every week.

It seemed as if Joseph was gone forever. At times we doubted whether he was ever coming back. Mommy kept track of all his letters, most of them stained with dirt and sometimes even blood. We knew it must have been hell over there, so far from home, nobody he knew or even trusted, but he stayed anyway.

A few of his friends came home early, either in body bags or with some part of their body broken or gone. Oh the town celebrated their return, but in time they were forgotten; just cripples who hung out at bars and usually caused trouble.

We got news reports on the radio about how our forces were doing, but the reports spoke about the army in general, never a specific person.

In the six years he was gone, things sure changed around here. Daddy was sick a lot. TB or something; at least that’s what the Doc said. Daddy couldn’t breathe very well, and couldn’t work. Mommy had to take jobs outside the house, mostly cooking and cleaning for the big shots in town. We almost starved.

I remember the day they made the announcement. The war finally ended. We anxiously awaited the return of our brother. When the bus pulled into town, we were there, mommy and all us kids. We waited patiently for all the soldiers to exit the bus. Joseph wasn’t there. Mommy cried her eyes out while trying to screen us from the terror she felt, but we knew how she was hurting.

We lost Daddy that summer too. What a bummer year. After all those years of dealing with TB, it finally took him.

We still wait for Joseph, hoping that one day, a bus will arrive and he will step off and hold us in his arms.

I help mommy lots now. She has to work for all the big shots, keeping their kids fed and their houses clean. I do all that now, I am boss here over all the little ones, but I still miss my  brother.

A few years back, while volunteering at a senior retirement facility, this story was relayed to me. Annie, a very sweet old lady reminisced about her brother, and how they lost him at such a young age. The workers in the home thought she was crazy, always talking about some guy named Joseph. I listened to her and found that she was quite sane; even at 97, she never forgot one detail of her young life or about her brother.

I presented her story here, for the world to read. I feel that since tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada, it would be a good time to tell her story. Lest we forget not only those who lost their lives fighting for freedom, but also for the families who like Annie, anxiously awaited their loved ones to return home.

12…from an adult’s point of view

The first thing I discovered once my son turned 12 is that I don’t know anything. Essentially, I am a moron. I am glad I figured this out.

I vaguely remember being 12. Maybe that is because I am 51. Maybe it is because 12 was probably the worst year of my life. That was the year I discovered that my parents knew nothing.

“Bring in the firewood, wash the dishes, help your Mom with your siblings, brush your teeth, wash your face (don’t want acne, do you?), do your homework, take out the garbage, shovel the driveway, put away your laundry, wash the car, mow the lawn, pick up your sister’s toys, feed the dog, put the cat outside, let him in…blah blah blah”

Boy, being 12 sure sucked.

My son struggles with 12 because at this age, he is expected to be a bit more grown up than he was at 11. What a difference a year is supposed to make. No wonder he gets confused.

And as much as I try not to sound like my parents did when I was 12, I sound exactly like them. You want to know why? Because parents are SUPPOSED to sound like that. It shows that they care, and that they want the best for their kids. GOD! It took me 39 years to figure that out.

12 is also a time in which you begin to think for yourself. God, it is so amazing. On the last day of your 11th year, you walk around knowing nothing about nothing, and then, suddenly, you turn 12. This is not just another year. This is a year in which you evidently know more than even Albert Einstein knew in all his years. At 12, you basically know everything. It’s a waste of time for anyone to tell you anything, because you know everything there is to know about everything on this planet, and maybe other planets as well. So much knowledge is stored in that amazing brain of a 12 year old that it still amazes me. Most of all, you know way more than both your parents combined. I know, I was 12 once too.

The big difference with a 12 year old in 2015 and one from the deep dark past….when dinosaurs roamed the earth (1975 to be exact). is that back then, there were consequences for your actions, even if you knew everything.

Nowadays, 12 year olds cannot fail the school year. Every kid is passed on to the next grade (or the parents have to fight with the school board to have them repeat a grade and always lose the battle). Nowadays, cheating in school is allowed. If a child is caught cheating, they do not receive a zero, they receive a chat from the school counsellor. Of course, being 12, all the child hears is blah blah blah. This is because the counsellor (who has had years of education and possesses a PHD in psychology) knows less than the 12 year old. It must be tough working with all those 12 year old scholars.

When I was a kid, you only received rewards when you did something. If you failed the school year, you remained in that grade until you passed it. I remember going to my grade 7 class and there was this adult sitting in the seat ahead of me. He repeated the seventh grade four times. He had a bigger beard than the teacher did. One day the teacher caught him cheating. His ass was kicked to the principals office where he received his ‘reward’ for cheating. Ten lashes across the hands with ‘THE STRAP’. A twelve inch piece of leather sometimes used to sharpen straight razors. I think that guy finally graduated from the eleventh grade. I believe he was 24 at the time…definitely not the fastest rabbit in the woods.

The good news? 13 is coming….then my child can go back to being a normal human being….I hope!

12

I wanna play with my toys and make bubbles and run and shoot bad guys with  my Nerf gun.

I want to talk to a new girl at school. I want to do my studies and I want to do well in school.

Why are adults telling me what to do? When to bathe? What to eat?

Why are the rules so strict? Why can’t I go to the mall on the weekend and spend time hanging with my friends?

Why do I have to do homework? Why are there final exams? Why is it important?

I wanna play with my old toys but I also want to date girls. I want to be a kid and I want to be treated like an adult. I don’t want to grow up but I have to.

Why can’t I make decisions for myself? I am grown up! Why don’t THEY see it?

Why do I have to follow THEIR rules?

Why do the other kids laugh at me when I tell them about my latest toys? Why do they laugh when I talk about my neighbourhood friends?

Why are they so mean? When will it all stop?

Why can’t it be like it used to be? Why can’t we all get along?

Why can’t my parents understand my battle? The one with being a kid vs growing up?

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We Understand. We were 12 once too. We used to question our parents’ decisions too. We used to get angry with our parents all the time. We used to wish we were little kids again so we didn’t have to deal with all the crap that comes from growing up. But we did grow up, and when we did, we seen that our parents made the rules so that we could become the people we are today. So that we could raise our kids so that they could become all that they will become. Because we love our kids.

Sometimes I wish I was 12 again…