The process of packing boxes, donating items to charity and marking items to sell was a lot harder than Charlie had envisioned. Catherine had been helpful with keeping them on task, but Hazel was having a difficult time parting with mementos and other sentimental items. Charlie had a bit of fun at her expense, watching her get flustered over Catherine attempting to throw out a forty year old wooden spoon and a Kleenex box holder that had sat in the bathroom, usually without a Kleenex box in it for decades.
Which is why he was caught by surprise at the tears now streaming down his own face.
He had gone up to his bedroom to get away from the nattering going on in the kitchen. He figured he could get a head start on clearing off his dresser, nightstand and desk – the only three items of furniture in the house he was allowed to keep HIS stuff on.
He was now holding a tarnished locket in his hands. The hinge on it was worn and the clasp no longer worked. It was his mothers. His father had presented it to her when he had returned from duty as an airman in the Royal Air Force (RAF_.
Charlie had been fortunate to have experienced what his English counterparts called an “enjoyable war” as a young boy in Scotland. The air raids that had plagued England were distant nightmarish stories. The closest traumatic experience he had was seeing soldiers with their burns in the hospital while visiting his mom and a new baby sister. It was horrific to see, but at the same time, Churchill’s speeches left him seeing these men as larger than life heroes. And his father was one of those men. Brave, strong…invincible.
Which was why it had been so hard to see his father suffer so badly later in life. The injuries he experienced during the war were exacerbated after years of hard labour on the farm after coming to Canada. His father was always one to put work first and his own well being second. All that mattered was making a better life for the family. Seeing your hero weaken is never easy, as Charlie learned. Somewhere, deep in his soul, he was still that little boy in Scotland who believed his father was supposed to be immortal.
Charlie took the locket and placed it in a small pine box where he kept his most cherished possessions. How grateful he was to have possessions and treasures. The very things his father served for and worked for had paid off. Charlie looked around the room…his father would be proud of him. He had done well in life, raised three beautiful children of his own who now had their own beautiful families. They were all so blessed.
Charlie sat on the edge of the bed, quietly, for a long moment. His father never had the opportunity to “age well.” He was never afforded the care and medical innovations of today…but he had played a role in creating a world where health advancement, social programs and government systems (as much as Charlie would complain about them from time to time) enabled people to have better lives. The choices Charlie had before him were nothing like those offered back in wartime Britain.
Charlie sighed introspectively and gently removed the poppy from where it had been placed on his nightstand and made his way downstairs.
ASCHA would like to take this opportunity to thank our veterans for their service and the sacrifices they have made to ensure Albertans can enjoy a high quality of life with choice and purpose. We remember.