She would be 100 years old today. March 18th is our mother’s birthdate. She was never much interested in disclosing the year of her birth. I do think though, if she’d been granted more than 52 years of life and she had lived to 100 years, she’d crow about it.
Mom was born in a section house (a company house for railroad workers-usually section foreman) in McLean, SK on March 18, 1922. I wish I’d asked her more questions about her life, or maybe it’s more accurate to say wish I’d listened more when she told stories of her life.
Her given name was Clarice Marie Mish and she never much cared for her first name. She signed her name as Claire instead. Her childhood was spent in Wolseley, SK and much of it during the depression when money was scarce. Add to that her father was very seriously injured in a freak accident leaving her mother, a Polish immigrant, to raise 6 children by cleaning homes, working in the laundry at the “old folks” home and squeezing every dollar until it cried out for mercy.
She was the best of moms to three daughters, a hard working wife and partner on a small mixed farm in southern Saskatchewan and someone who found joy in the everyday of life. She had so many sayings that we carried with us into adulthood and now our children carry into theirs and so it goes.
Happy Birthday Mom
Today we celebrate 15,695 days together, or another way of looking at it is to divide the days by 365 (yes I know I didn’t factor in leap years but hopefully you’ll cut me some slack) and that is 43 years. It was November 9, 1974, a Saturday 43 years ago we were married. We were reminiscing a bit today about our wedding. What time exactly did we get married? Neither of us can remember off the top of our heads. I could go look at our wedding book but that would mean stirring from this chair.
We talked about how many people who were at the wedding have since died and how many people in our lives now were not born 43 years ago. It’s time like these I reflect on all the wonderful people we know and have known. People who have sat around our dining table or we have sat around theirs. We are rich in family and in friends. We have, together, lived through experiences that have brought joy to our hearts and some that have broken our hearts. Our wedding day was filled with joy and sorrow. The joy of a wedding, the sorrow of a visit to the hospital where my mother was dying. We had moved our wedding day ahead hoping she might attend but that was not to be. When I think of it now I wonder how my Dad coped that day. His sense of humour never left him though. After the ceremony he accompanied us to the hospital to visit Mom and as we all passed the admitting desk, he looked at the clerk and at me in my wedding dress and said “Would you please give us directions to the maternity ward?”
We have lived through a lot together, the two of us and we are blessed in so many ways. We give thanks for our family, our friends and our good fortune, probably not as often as we should. There’s not a joke or story that we can tell each other that we likely have told one another before. Some stories and opinions or theories are repeated over and over (mostly in his case of course). In conversation with others one of us can start a story and turn to the other who will finish it.
And to those who say ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, well that’s just wrong. Something new happened today, some 15,695 days after our wedding. We traditionally buy anniversary cards for each other. Today would be our 83rd and 84th card purchase (starting with our first anniversary). And something new happened today. Below are the cards we bought each other. If we’d known, we could have saved some money and both signed the same card.
Our father, Bill Allen, served in the army in World War II. He initially trained others to drive tanks here on Canadian soil and then he served overseas-Northern Africa and Italy. He service ended before the end of the war due to serious illness. He contracted rheumatic fever and was sent home.
He was a man of solid character, our Dad. A bit of a rascal some would say. Well perhaps many would say that and we (three daughters) enjoyed his sense of adventure, wit and humour. He was full of mischief. His service in the war was never a big topic of conversation or perhaps I just wasn’t listening. If it was the latter, that is a shame for Dad never lived long enough for me to be wise enough to ask him more. He died at the relatively young age of 61 in 1979. I can only imagine the experience, the impact and the horrors of war that our Dad experienced.
Men and women who served and returned must hope and trust their work and sacrifice makes the world a better place. This was brought home to me in a very real way when in the 1970’s I was held up at gun point while working in a pharmacy in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was not harmed. Shaken, but not harmed. When I called my Dad to tell him what had happened, he said “I never served in the war so that some ba@#$rd could hold a gun to my daughter’s head!”. And I thought how he and others might have held hope the world would be rid of all evil as a result of their efforts.
If Dad were alive today, I’d travel to wherever he lived from wherever I lived. I’d accompany him to a Remembrance Day Ceremony. And I would tell him the world is a better place because of his service.
Thank you Dad.