Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Remembrance on November 11 (Guest Writer)

It is November 11, just after 11 a.m. Exactly 91 years ago today, World War I ended. We commemorate this day, of course, as a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers. We wear poppies on our lapels and pause for a minute of silence.

I have always been ambivalent about Remembrance Day. War is the supreme example of the emotional immaturity of the human race, and it embodies the very worst elements of humanity. On the other hand, the extreme conditions of war provides unique opportunities for human bravery, self-sacrifice and heroism. So how can we celebrate the one while wanting to condemn the other?

Like many of my generation, my father was damaged by World War II, in ways we can only guess at now that he is gone. My mother had to raise her first child alone for more than five years until her husband came home from a German prisoner of war camp. Six years after the end of the war I was born into a family that must have been still struggling with its aftermath, a family still trying to heal from everything that happened during those wartime years.

And so the sight of poppies on lapels has always triggered discomfort in me. I want to acknowledge all the sacrifices and acts of heroism, and even of simple endurance, but at the same time I want to shout out: “Never again!”

For the last 17 years, the sight of poppies on lapels has triggered another and much, much happier reaction. Because 17 years ago almost at this minute, I said “I will” to Angelina, the author of this blog and she became my wife. My good friend, then the Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court, Justice Roy McMurtry, presided. Present were Roy’s brother and my dear friend, who is now gone, Bill, Roy’s wife Ria, my mother, also now gone, and my good friends Wallis and Virginia Smith.

Angelina and I had met that March, about eight months earlier, but I was not until September that we had a “date.” Within six weeks of that first date I popped the question and it was only two weeks later that we were standing in Roy’s chambers uttering the magic words of commitment to one another. Apparently I was sweating profusely, but I remember being serenely happy. We took a leap of faith in each other, but even in that short time we had decided we could utterly trust each other. I think that we knew everything that we needed to know about one another.

Seventeen years have passed, and we have made a life for ourselves that I think is unique. We have found a home in the countryside, really more of a little world of our own than a home. We work together on very important work, and it sustains us both financially and in other ways.

We have made a son, our wonderful Andrew, and as he nears his 12th birthday we see both of us reflected in him, but we see him as a person unto himself.

Most of all we have created the emotional space within which we can each be fulfilled and happy. Our life is not immune from the bumps and bruises that are inevitable in human affairs, but nothing will ever call our marriage, our bond, our friendship, our love, into question. We are going to grow old together, and I think of the myth of Philemon and Baucis. If you don’t know about it you can look it up.

Angelina, I love you from the depths of my being and any success that I have achieved in these last 17 years has been made possible by the unwavering love and friendship you have given me. You have given me courage I did not know I had and you have made it possible for me to leave my self-doubts behind at least most of the time.

I hope that this short guest essay will give the readers of your blog some small idea of the special person who writes it.

All my love, Alan

1 comment:

Angelina said...

Isn't he the sweetest?

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