On Remembrance Day, My Gramps Continues to Change My Life

Today is Rememberance Day and a “holiday” at my work.  One thing about statutory “holidays” in this career of mine is that the notion of actually observing the holiday is sort of strange and bizarre and offside (either at this stage of the game or maybe just in general if you fancy yourself a hustla).  I am big into this mentality and with the exception of Easter and Thanksgiving, where I try and go visit my family, I usually work through these “holidays”

Today was no exception.  I set my alarm bright and early, had an outfit picked out, made a plan to meet that boy in my life to watch the Remembrance Day Ceremony, and then had intended to go back to work.  But then this morning when the alarm went off, I ACCIDENTALLY WENT BACK TO SLEEP.

I must have been very tired, but do you know when I finally woke up again?  At 8:45.  I started doing the math, and between needing a shower, straightening my hair, singing along to some Michael Buble (so it’s a bit early for Xmas – don’t be such a hater), and reconsidering my outfit, by the time I got to work it was going to be about 10am leaving only 40 minutes of working time before I was going to make way to the ceremony.

Here’s the thing about 40 minutes: in a profession governed by time, 40 minutes is just not very valuable.  I could stay in bed a few more minutes, or I could rush to get ready and maybe turn that 40 minutes into an hour.  But in either event, 40 minutes or one hour isn’t a meaningful amount of time.

As I laid there, playing all these thoughts out in my mind, I began thinking about my Gramps.  My Gramps was a very important friend and loved one of mine.  He taught me to play the violin when I was small, which I hated, but which I also loved because it was the thing that just me and my Gramps did.  In a family of four girls, you need to find something to differentiate yourself from the other three!  The violin was my in with my Gramps.  He would have these hour long lessons with me – way too long when you’re seven – and that part wasn’t great, but we would also go to the mall, me and my Gramps, and meet his friends at Tim Hortons and he would buy me maple doughnuts and show me off, I think.  My Gramps used to love braiding us granddaughters’ hair and he loved reading T’was the Night Before Christmas to us when our family would go to Nova Scotia to spend the holidays with him.  He would also talk to Santa on his ham radio.  “Santa” was always a pilot that my Gramps knew and who would pretend to be Santa for Earl’s grandchildren.  Why?  Well, probably because my Gramps used to be a pilot, because my Gramps had been a pilot in the second world war.

My Gramps served from the beginning of the war as a member of the Canadian Army, and later volunteered as one of only 673 Canloan officers, or as officers who had been loaned to the British Army.  My Gramps did not talk about the war.  The only reason I knew my Gramps had been in the war was because of this photo of him and my Nanny Cameron stepping out of this car together – he in his army clothes, she looking more beautiful than any movie star from the 1940s ever could.  And that was it.  My Gramps went on to be an entrepreneur, loving father and husband, amazing grandfather, member of the local orchestra, pilot instructor.  He was so many things – and I suppose it could be fairly said he fought to ensure he could be all of those.

And it was while I was lying there that it struck me: on this day that is supposed to be about not only remembrance but acts of thankfulness, I was so driven by a clock and numbers and units of time that I intended to squander the beautiful day away.  True, I value my career and I work hard every day at my career, but this day is not about putting some numbers on a scorecard.

My father was born in November, 1949, four short years after the end of World War II.  I recall him telling me that as a young person he lived in fear that he would get drafted when the next war started.  Of course, this would seem reasonable to a teenager because the second World War had begun only two decades after the first.  If history was any indication, there would be a letter with his name on it any day.  However, this never happened to my dad.  It hasn’t happened to my friends and it won’t happen to my nephew.  This peace and freedom is a lot to be thankful for, as is my loved ones not getting such a piece of mail one day saying “off you go, now, young man”.

So today I went to a ceremony, and I watched as hundreds of people around me experienced a day of thankfulness, liberty, peace and joy with their family and loved ones.  One little boy near me had the chattiest mouth and the biggest smile to match it.  And even though he was a bit noisy during such a sombre moments, and even though I had to hold back several “shushes”, I couldn’t help smile and view him as such a beautiful representation of what we really have to be thankful for. This small boy’s future is all his own.

And after that ceremony?  I didn’t go to the office.  Today I just savoured the world as I know it.  Thanks Gramps.

My Gramps, Earl Cameron's, obituary.  If you click, you can read about more of my Gramps' many achievements.

My Gramps, Earl Cameron’s, obituary. If you click, you can read about more of my Gramps’ many achievements.

me and my gramps