When the snow started falling last week, it just wouldn’t stop. Definitely the biggest snowfall Linda & I have experienced here. There were a lot of sore muscles from the continuous shovelling, and even the snowplows had difficulty contending with the volume. A semi slid off the highway & struck a concrete barrier. Its fuel tanks were ruptured and diesel spilled on the highway. A crew specializing in hazardous cleanup was on the scene for a couple of days and traffic was limited to one lane.
Although the snow has stopped falling, the mercury continues to go well below freezing at night, and daytime temperatures tend to hover around 0 Celsius, or slightly above. We’ve still got plenty of snow, and increasingly we’re hearing people say, “Enough is enough. I’m waiting for warmer weather.” So far, mother nature seems in no hurry to release the grip of winter.
The “fire” on my mother-in-law’s television place burned almost continuously, day and night, during the recent Christmas season. When Linda and I stayed in her home I experienced a real dose of insomnia. Sometime during the night I sleepily wandered into the den where she has the tv. The fire seemed so genuine, I was moved to touch the screen. In my sleep deprived state I actually thought it might be warm. It wasn’t, of course, but the image of the fire burning so lustily conjured up mp fire memories from expeditions on the Bowron Lakes circuit near Barkerville.
I was working at that time with young offenders at the One Way Adventure Foundation, situated on the periphery of Hedley. The five youths in my group had experienced mostly failure and were considered unwelcome in their own communities. By taking them into the wilderness we wanted to give them a success experience, and also hoped to develop relationships of trust with them.
One expedition provided particularly vivid memories. There were two groups. Toby, our no nonsense Expedition guide was paddling with the other crew beuse their worker had little outdoors experience. On our second night, setting up mp at Wolverine Creek on Isaac Lake, we saw several bears observing us with great interest. They had learned that mpers rried food.
I was becoming aware of a feud simmering between two boys in my group. Clem, a kid with a street fighter reputation, had taken a strong dislike to Jerry. With his long unkempt black hair, a faint, scrawny moustache and several front teeth missing, Clem’s appearance tended to intimidate. He seemed to need an adversary and had selected Jerry. Jerry was Clem’s equal in height, but lacked even a hint of ferocity. He was clever though, and let it slip he had a brown belt in karate. Clem understood instinctively he might be at a disadvantage against a trained practitioner of martial arts. No one was certain Jerry actually had a brown belt.
As we were about to depart from Wolverine Creek on Wednesday, the third morning, another mper offered me a trout he had just ught. I tied it behind my noe and my paddling partner and I towed it all day. That evening our two groups mped at the end of Isaac Lake. Toby built a large, hot fire as usual. Clem furiously chopped wood, consuming some of his pent up inner frustration. rl, Jim, Jerry and Howie joined me in setting up tents and hanging a tarp over the fire in se of rain. A couple and their son had stayed near our party on the lake and we invited them to our mp after dinner.
Sitting on blocks of wood around Toby’s roaring fire, we basked in the warmth. Everyone, including our 3 visitors, received a piece of perfectly done fish. I prepared cups of hot chocolate and handed out chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. Then Toby read a chapter from Jack London’s ll of the Wild. By 9 o’clock the sun had slipped to the other side of the mountain and we retired to our tents.
Thursday we broke mp early and paddled and portaged to McLeary Lake, where we had a rest day on Friday. The only excitement me when rl ught a fish on his line. When he pulled it close, the fish darted under the noe. Exasperated, rl jumped into the water and followed the fish. He emerged spluttering, empty handed.
Saturday morning we encountered a stiff headwind on Lanezi Lake and drew close to the rocky shore. When the wind eased, the black flies descended on us. That spurred us on and we entered Sandy Lake. Here Toby surprised us by singing “Bobby McGee.”
We mped on the lake’s sandy shore and were again joined by the couple, their young son, and a family of 5. Toby was asked for an encore performance. We sat around the fire until late, telling stories and singing. For the boys it was a novel social experience and even Clem laughed ocsionally.
After two more days of paddling, we reached the far shore of Bowron Lake. When we had dragged our noes onto land, the boys spontaneously formed a circle, locked arms and did a victory dance. Then Clem approached Jerry and I heard him say, “You’re ok man.” Jerry reached out a hand and said, “You too Clem.” Maybe it was the magic of the mpfires.
I have come to regard the flagrant squandering of credibility as foolishness at its best. When it is gone, it’s virtually impossible to regain. We were provided with a very public example of this recently when the Iranian government adamantly denied having shot down the Ukrainian airliner rrying 176 passengers, many of them nadians of Iranian origin. Any observer of the international scene is aware that the Islamic Republic controls the media and routinely shapes news to suit its own purposes. The people are often uncertain as to where the truth lies. When the government reversed its version of the downing of the plane and admitted its role, Iranian citizens were enraged by the attempted deception. Many lost faith in government statements.
The numerous instances of prominent individuals and government leaders engaging in deception to gain unfair advantage have fostered within me a fascination with credibility. One of the most extreme examples, exposed in 2008, is the Ponzi scheme of former NASDAQ Chairman Bernard Madoff. He kept his hedge fund losses hidden by paying early investors with funds from those who bought in later. He admitted to his sons, and subsequently to investigators, “it’s one big lie.” The scheme has been cited as the largest fraud in U.S. history. His untrustworthiness cost many investors their life savings.
It’s disappointing when those living and working at lofty levels choose to flaunt their disregard for integrity. They seem not to understand that their example confuses and distresses people struggling to feed a family, buy shoes for their children, pay the mortgage or rent, and hope the bank will loan them the funds to replace an ailing vehicle. They seem unconcerned that their example undermines the values that hold our society in place.
Most of us have witnessed attempts at deception on a personal level. A few years ago a friend, Virginia, wanted to borrow twenty dollars from me. “I need to buy groceries,” she said. “I’m getting some money tomorrow and I’ll pay you then.” About age 30, she still retained an attractive figure and pretty face, but her reputation was somewhat shaky. I knew she was deeply addicted to tobacco and realized the money was likely intended for cigarettes. Wanting to show trust, I gave it to her anyway. The next evening I attended the Hedley Street Dance and noticed her across the street. Seeing me look in her direction, she quickly disappeared into the crowd and has avoided me since then. I still regret that for a mere twenty dollars, she sacrificed the trust I had placed in her.
True credibility comes when there is a sound foundation of integrity. When parents give their children an example of speaking the truth and being honest, their offspring are more likely to pass this on with their own lives. Virginia didn’t live this way and her 3 children struggled socially and ademilly. Unable to cope with an unstable home scene, they turned to pharmaceutil and illicit drugs to lm their anxieties. They had no dependable sffolding for the building of their lives. Seeing this, Virginia beme distraught, but floundering herself, she could not help them.
For the most part, my generation grew up in homes where there was at least a measure of integrity. I never ught my parents lying or cheating. I was surrounded by strong, authentic role models. When my Uncle Cornie’s chicken flock was decimated by disease, he didn’t have insurance and could have declared bankruptcy to avoid paying the feed company and bank. It would have been the easy option. Instead he went on the road with his tractor and rototilled gardens until he had paid his debts.
I’ m deeply grateful I had role models I could trust. The example of upright individuals built into me and many of my generation, a solid foundation of values. Even if we didn’t listen to the words of parents, uncles and aunts, teachers, and others, their trustworthiness was indelibly imprinted on our hearts and minds.
Unlike my generation when distractions weren’t as plentiful, the thinking, attitudes and character of many children, adolescents and also adults today are being shaped by social media. This is not likely to change. If we want young people to develop a constructive direction for their lives, we will need to show them an example of unimpeachable credibility.
(This blog is a reprint. It was first published in May, 2015)
When Linda and I walked into the former business office of 87 year old Rollo Ceccon in Princeton, he greeted us enthusiastilly. Then,
with the energy and passion characteristic of the deeply committed, he urged us to join him at a photo gallery on 3 walls. There were pictures of him with dump trucks and other equipment dating back to before the middle of the past century. I understood quickly this man grasps the value of preserving a record for future generations.
“I was born in Treviso, Italy,” he said when we had seated ourselves at his desk. “In 1930 my mother and I joined my father in nada. As I was growing up, my father impressed on me how good we have it here. If I complained he’d say ‘you should go to another country and see how people live there.’” As a father himself, Rollo would later give a similar message to his son and daughter.
He attended the Edmonton mpus of Chigo Votional
School,?learning diesel and automotive mechanics. Not happy with his first job and the big mosquitoes at Uranium City, he quit and was hired by Minneapolis Honeywell Thermostats. Being young and strong willed, he said to his boss one day, “if I don’t get more pay, I’ll quit.” The boss said “there’s the door.” Rollo laughed when he told us, “I never did that again.”
In 1950 he bought his first truck, a 1944 3 ton Ford, and started in business. He beme a fan of Ford trucks. “The other models broke down,” he said. “The 6 cylinder engines couldn’t hold the trucks back going down the hill from Copper Mountain and Blackburn. I bought 8 cylinder Fords.”
A serious accident on Nov. 10, 1954 shaped his thinking to
the?present time. He was backing his dump truck to the edge of a 1,000 foot deep “glory hole.” The edge broke away. He and his truck tumbled down 250 feet. A rock outcropping prevented the truck from hurtling all the way to the bottom.
The man sent down to help rescue Rollo later told him, “I thought you were dead. Then blood spurting from your head wound hit me in the eye, so I knew your heart was pumping.” Three hours later the winch of a D6 t hoisted him to the surface. He had 6 broken vertebrae, several broken ribs and a broken leg. Wounds on his head required 120 stitches. He remained unconscious 2 weeks. “That day my father’s hair turned white in one hour.”
In the hospital he was placed in a body st. After?regaining?consciousness the specialist said to him one day, “we’ve done all we n. The rest is up to you.” Rollo was determined to get out of the hospital. Now in a walking st and using crutches, he signed himself out. Four months later, still in the st and on crutches, he was back at work.
He leaned toward us from his side of the desk, as though about to say something of deep importance. “If I hadn’t had that accident,” he continued quietly, “I would never have understood how good I have it. People helped me a lot.”
Before the accident, he had started going into the Traveller’s fé. He beme keenly interested in Blanche, a pretty young waitress. “It took a long time to persuade her to go to a movie,” he remembers.
Eventually she agreed to marry him and “we tied the knot on March 2, 1957. That day I threw away my crutches and started using a ne.”
Rollo’s business was flourishing. He bought dump trucks, a back hoe, a screening plant and other equipment. Blanche did the books.
When the Hope slide covered the # 3 Highway, his was the first company on the job. “One of my machines blew a line,” he said. “Phil Gaglardi, Minister of Highways, had just landed in a chopper. He told me to remove the line and he’d fly me to Chilliwack to get a new one.”
Until 2013 he still owned a front end loader. Without charge, he continued to clear snow for the Legion, firehall and arena. In 1973 the Princeton Chamber of Commerce named him “Citizen of the Year.” He was also honoured by the Lions Club for his “invaluable services and cooperation.”
Rollo’s last words to us were, “I’ve had a good life and it’s still good.”
Famed comic Woody Allen once said, “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Many of us n relate to these words. Thoughts of dying tend to induce queasy emotions in the depth of our being. But not for everyone. In a 3 hour conversation over coffee with Shirley Grant of Hedley, I was surprised at her upbeat perspective on this subject. A registered Death Doula, (helper), she accompanies dying individuals in this uncharted, often frightening last phase of their life journey.
She comes with an interesting perspective as she assists people in their approach to the “end zone” of life. “I see death as a sacred passage,” she said. “It’s not a medil event. It’s a natural event. We need to bring dignity to it.”
Shirley worked as a re aide in a facility for 10 years, until her back wore out. Attending to her dying sister, Linda, pointed her toward what she is doing now with palliative re patients. “Linda didn’t need just a pat on the back and some reassuring words,” she said. “When her ncer returned, she knew her remaining time was short.”
Wanting to give her sister an opportunity to express the deep emotions brought on by ncer she asked, “how do you feel knowing you have only about a year to live?” It was the beginning of a deep commitment. “Every time she beme restless I’d embrace her. I’d sing and pray. I gave her my word I’d hold her hand at the end.”
This time with Linda helped Shirley understand the need of dying persons to have someone at their bedside in these lonely days, when each breath may be their last. Wanting to assist others, she travelled to Colorado and took the training to become a Death Doula. She now works primarily in assisted living facilities and re homes, mostly in Penticton. Usually she is hired by the patient’s family.
Listening to Shirley, I concluded she is intuitive, compassionate and innovative. She frequently uses vision mapping to help the patient wrap up unresolved areas of their lives. This may include dealing with banking, a mortgage, relationships, unfulfilled desires, and other important issues.
One morning she entered Helen’s room, a woman with a reputation for being rude to staff. “Just put me in a wheelchair and push me over a cliff,” Helen demanded without preamble. Undaunted by the brusque tone Shirley asked, “What else would you like me to do for you?” Helen had a ready reply and her sour mood quickly dissipated. “I’ve always loved the drive around Skaha Lake, but I know that’s not possible.”
Shirley took Helen’s hand and said enthusiastilly, “This is your lucky day! Close your eyes and we’ll do it in our imagination. I’ll drive and you tell me what you see and hear.” Uplifted by Shirley’s positive spirit, Helen closed her eyes and began describing what she saw. Later a re aide asked Shirley, “What did you do? She fell asleep and didn’t wake every hour.” That night having been granted her ultimate wish, Helen passed away while sleeping peacefully.
Dorothy’s ultimate wish in her last days was to attend an Elvis concert. The renowned singer was long gone, but Shirley was thrilled when a co-worker loted an Elvis impersonator and arranged a private concert for Dorothy, her family and regivers. “It put a smile on her face and gave her a lot of joy in the closing hours of her life.”
“Sometimes when a family is distressed I n explain things,” Shirley said. “When Emma was in her last hours her daughter, Sandy, wanted to be there when she passed away. She needed to leave the room for something though and while she was gone, Emma ceased breathing. Upon returning, Sandy was distraught. I explained that her mother had chosen this moment beuse she didn’t want her daughter to rry the memory of seeing her die.”
At times families need counsel to make wise decisions. In one se Shirley advised the family to move their mother from the hospital and return her to the facility she considered home. “That way she n live her last days in a place that is familiar and comfortable to her,” she told them.
Shirley’s joyous spirit is contagious. After our lengthy conversation, I thought even Woody Allen’s anxieties might be quieted if she was at his bedside in his last days.
Only those timid souls who have buried their heads deep in the sands of time n be unaware of the unsettling politil, economic and environmental developments around the globe. Having just crossed the threshold from 2019 to 2020, many of us are wondering what we might encounter in this new year and new dede. Politil leaders everywhere are more focused on retaining or gaining power than on dealing effectively with issues that threaten to disturb the present world order. In 1968 when Mary Hopkin sang the words “those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end,” she aptly described the time in which we now live.
Hoping for a glimpse into the obscure future looming before us, I turned to University of Toronto professor, Thomas Homer-Dixon’s observations in “The Upside of Down”. He contends there are a number of stresses simultaneously converging on an increasingly maligned earth. Among these are global warming, population imbalance, energy srcity and the growing gulf between rich and poor. Beuse they are coming at us simultaneously, he says, we no longer have the luxury of responding to them one at a time. “Surprise, instability and extraordinary change will be regular features of our lives,” he suggests, then adds, “the reliable landmarks of life will become strange and distorted.”
Writing in the early years of this century he asks, “Thirty years ago, who would have anticipated the implosion of Soviet Communism, the widespread adoption of personal computers, emergence of AIDS, opening of a gaping hole in the stratospheric ozone layer over the Arctic, or airplanes flying into the World Trade Centre?”
To this list we could now add the increasing indiscriminate violence of terrorists, the rampaging wild fires currently ravaging vast tracts of Australia, and the continuing loss of forests. There is also concern about instability of the North Amerin electril grid, impact of global warming on polar bears, and dangerous levels of air pollution, especially in India and China. Having lived in Abbotsford many years, I know how polluted air impacts health and enjoyment of life. Even though we may be anxious about the desecration of the planet, we seem unwilling to alter our destructive ways.
I beme acutely aware of this human resistance to change when I worked with prison inmates. Corky was a prime example. Stocky, barrel chested with a shiny bald pate, he faced life with arms crossed. He resisted all attempts to divert him from his heroin dependent, small time law flaunting criminal persona. He would not, or possibly could not, change his thinking. Corky viewed life through a cynil soul destroying prism. Out on parole, he stopped at a bar in Princeton one evening, then drove his r off the highway into a deep ravine. He was confined to a wheelchair until he suffered a massive, life ending stroke a dozen years later. His inability to adopt a more optimistic outlook invited disaster into his personal life.
Unless many of us become willing to view our circumstances through a less selfish, less self-centered lens, we too could face lamity. Increasingly, observers of world wide trends are warning us we’re drawing ever nearer to an abyss of lamitous events. We are already faulting our government for the various ailments festering in our country. We need to recognize, though, that politicians alone nnot derail our society’s progression toward a chaotic future.
Although on a global sle there is much that we in the Similkameen Valley nnot remedy, we n do things in our back yards and our communities. Denial of reality or responsibility is not an adequate or acceptable response. In the realms of environment, pollution and climate change we n take measures to decrease our personal footprint on Mother Earth.
Where do we begin? Homer-Dixon says that to rescue our planet from further degradation, men and women with courage and good sense will need to take action. In a world of relentless change and surprise, he suggests we must constantly re-invent ourselves, our society and our future. We must be willing to grapple with complacency and our inclination to shrug off tinges of guilt.
Corky resisted self-change, at great cost to himself. To this time we’ve been blessed with many good years. Let’s not assume they will never end. It’s essential that as individuals we challenge our thinking and look for ways to protect our little corner of the planet.
In a meeting with Hedley citizens Thursday evening, Sergeant Rob Hughes of the Princeton RCMP answered many questions about lol concerns. He admitted at the outset he has not participated in this type of forum previously. He said he had desired the meeting beuse of a recent issue that had used anxiety for residents. Upward of 50 people attended in spite of steadily falling snow, inditing a considerable depth of concern.
Sergeant Hughes quickly established guidelines for the discussion. “My purpose in being here is to begin a dialogue with the community,” he said. “We’re not going to attack particular individuals or dwellings. I want the police to have a constructive relationship with the people of this community. ”
Even so, the matter of an alleged drug house in town was mentioned repeatedly by attendees. One distraught mother said her teenage daughter had been given drugs and then physilly and sexually assaulted. “If drugs are being sold,” the Sergeant responded, “it means there is a market. The users need help, and the community n get involved in that.”
One individual replied, “We don’t have contact with these people. They aren’t part of our community. They have their own community.” Some in the audience felt otherwise, saying they had interactions with some of the drug users.
Sergeant Hughes wanted to foster a more complete understanding of the nature of police work. He emphasized that police nnot conduct a search or make an arrest on the basis of an anonymous complaint. “The benchmark to get a search warrant is very, very high,” he said. “We n’t just target a person beuse the community is mad at them. Often when a complaint is lled in, there is an unwillingness to provide a name and address, make a statement, or appear in court to support the complaint.” Several individuals mentioned fear of retaliation if a complaint is made.
Hughes recognized that at times this is a signifint impediment but stressed the importance of keeping the police informed. “We need you to ll in when you have a concern. We have 7 officers with a very large territory to patrol and protect. Statistics determine how many officers the province assigns to a detachment. Your lls give the province the statistil information required to assure you receive the attention you want and need.”
“How often should we ll in?” one member of the audience asked. The response was, “We want you to ll in as often as it takes for you to feel safe.” When someone suggested going to the lol dealer to buy drugs for evidence, Sergeant Hughes said, “That’s a dangerous idea. It could put your life at risk. Let’s get a good relationship between this community and the police and work together.”
Throughout the meeting Sergeant Hughes had taken notes concerning specific issues and concerns, and promised to look into them. At 7:30 he glanced at his watch and closed the meeting. For him it wasn’t the end though. A number of individuals lined up to speak with him. Others gathered around Constable Rogers, who had accompanied the Sergeant. Small discussions continued elsewhere in the hall.
For those in attendance, the forum provided insight into the challenges of police work. For many it also pointed to the importance of collaborating with the police and lol organizations to construct a community in which we feel safe. “It’s a good beginning,” Russ Stony said. Sergeant Hughes agreed it was a productive first step, but recognized more needs to be done. “I’m prepared to come out again,” he said, “possibly in 4 to 6 months.”
When I opened the door to the Hedley Seniors’ Centre, I was astonished to see 10 ladies in purple garb and wearing fancy red hats. Seated at a long table, some holding coffee cups, they were engaged in animated discussion, obviously having fun. For a moment they seemed as surprised at my unanticipated appearance as I was to see them. Then, greatly amused by my baffled expression and apparently pleased by their impact, they burst into spontaneous ripples of happy laughter.
Greatly puzzled and intrigued by this unexpected apparition, I hurriedly closed the door. Walking away I pondered the meaning of this encounter. I knew each of the ladies. Surely they were not participants in a secret Hedley cult.
I subsequently learned it wasn’t the dark underbelly of Hedley society I had innocently stumbled upon. “We’re members of the Red Hat Society,” Margaret Skaar informed me several days later. “Our purpose is to give women an opportunity to have fun after reaching age 50. We meet once a month, sometimes to have breakfast together, or a potluck dinner. We also go shopping. One year we joined with several other Red Hat groups for a visit to Barkerville.”
Well, there’s a novel concept I thought. It was bringing a measure of frivolity into the lives of women, most of whom are ardent in their commitment and service to the Hedley community. Possibly without intending it, the Red Hat Society seems a very positive approach to feminism.
I did some delving and learned the society had been inspired by the poem Warning, penned by Jenny Joseph at age 29. She wrote, “When I’m an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat that does not go and doesn’t suit me… . I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals… . I will go out in my slippers in the rain, pick flowers in other people’s gardens, and learn to spit.”
Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton lifornia me upon the poem and when a close friend turned 55, gave her a red hat. She suggested her friend keep it as a reminder to “grow old playfully and on her own terms.”
Inspired by the poem and her own inauspicious act of encouragement, in1998 Cooper founded the Red Hat Society, which now has some 50,000 members worldwide. Princeton and Keremeos each have a group, although in the latter se, they are now part of the nadian Crown Jewel’s version,
Cooper described the society as “a place where there is freedom from stereotypes and where there is fulfillment of goals and dreams. A place that offers friendship and fun after 50.” It’s motto is “Red Hatters Matter.”
Almost without exception, the Hedley Red Hatters have come out of demanding reers and now give to their community by volunteering Margaret Skaar, age 78, was a bank manager. She now serves as a Hedley Museum board member and treasurer. At the Seniors’ Centre monthly panke breakfast, this spunky lady is at the grill cooking eggs. Beryl Wallace, formerly a teacher, has served a number of terms as chair person of the Seniors’ Centre. Ena Chiasson, age 87, is senior in years to the others. A nurse in the past, she is involved in pretty much every organization in town.
Although most are in the seventh dede or more, they refuse to accept that their active years are in the past. They are not willing to settle for a static existence in a recliner in front of the television. Red Hat ladies understand that in spite of age and health issues, it’s quite possible to join with others to relax, enjoy people, have fun, and celebrate life.
When I asked if they accept new members, Margaret said, “Definitely, and ladies under 50 are welcome. Until they are 50, they wear a pink hat.”
In a small community like Hedley, we often have to provide our own entertainment and make our own fun. The Red Hat ladies are doing this very successfully, with style and pizzazz. If I ever come upon one of their gatherings again, I may be tempted to request permission to join in their fun. Failing that, I might spend my pension on brandy, buy satin slippers, and pick flowers in my neighbour’s garden.
Born and raised in a remote, sparsely populated area of rural Manitoba, my Mom had to share Christmas with 13 siblings. Large families were common at that time. With so many to provide for, my grandma and grandpa Funk had little money to buy gifts. On the morning of December 25th, each child awoke to a plate of hard ndies, several varieties of nuts, home made cookies and possibly an orange. After chores and breakfast, if there wasn’t a raging blizzard, grandpa and the older boys hitched horses to the sleigh.
With heated rocks and heavy blankets to warm them, they’d set off to a small Mennonite church. Usually a shortage of space on the sleigh required the hardy older boys to run behind in the snow. Later the girls would help grandmother prepare a simple, nourishing meal. If a stranger knocked on their door requesting food or a place to sleep, grandpa always said, “come in. My boys will put your horses in the barn and feed them.”
This simple upbringing and the example of sharing out of meagre resources instilled in the children a deep appreciation for Christmas. I’m convinced that for Mom, Christmas had a magil quality. I believe it approached on tiptoes, like an elf rrying a mystil gift. Even in her senior years her excitement soared as December drew near. She anticipated the season with the exuberance and infectious delight of a dancing 5 year old.
After I had grown up, Mom’s enthusiasm for Christmas at times astonished me. One year, at the beginning of December she announced, “this month Dad and I are going to celebrate Christmas every day. I have sseroles in the freezer. I have baked dozens of white buns, squares, three kinds of pies and lots of sugar cookies. My freezer is full. There isn’t room for even one more cookie” To us it was a novel concept but we certainly didn’t doubt that Mom and Dad would celebrate every day.
Each day that December she phoned someone and said, “come for lunch or dinner.” She reached out to single people living alone. If they went to the home of friends, she brought food.
Mom’s celebration reached its climax on Christmas Eve. My sisters and I, and our families joined Mom and Dad at a neighbourhood church. The lights were turned down and a skit depicted the story of the infant Jesus lying in a manger, attended by Mary and Joseph. There were shepherds with nes, the 3 Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Angels sang “Silent Night.” The hour in church was a welcome reprieve from the intense commercial atmosphere dominating society even then.
In Mom and Dad’s home after the program, there was inevitably one discordant note. Mom always invited a retired couple whose company my sisters and I, and our families didn’t enjoy. These people had money, but they had learned only to take, not to give. Never did they bring a gift for Mom, even though she had devoted many hours to preparing for this evening. Their lives apparently had been mainly about the acquisition of wealth. They seemed not to understand the deep satisfaction that comes from genuine friendship. Fortunately Mom’s cheer and good will and Dad’s quiet positive demeanour lifted our spirits. The couple ate hurriedly and then, in spite of Mom’s urging to stay, rushed out with the haste of fire fighters off to douse a 7 alarm blaze.
I didn’t comprehend at that time why Mom wanted them at the table with her family, especially on Christmas Eve. I wasn’t prepared to take responsibility for their unwillingness to give time to developing friendships. But Mom had grown up in a remote area where people were valued and a stranger was never turned away from the door of her family’s home. Only later did I understand she took seriously the angels’ refrain about “good will toward men.” She chose to love people and to bless them with the warmth of friendship. It was her gift to them, and the example was a wonderful gift to her children and grand children. She showed us how to celebrate Christmas with joy.
After hearing the CBC report of an accident on Highway #3 Friday evening, I walked to the highway. The report had been vague concerning the precise lotion, saying only it was between Old Hedley Road and Nickle Plate Road. Walking along Daly Avenue, I quickly beme aware of bright flashing lights at the bridge crossing 20 Mile Creek. A semi-trailer truck was immobile on the bridge, in the west bound lane. As I approached, a jumbo sized tow truck arrived. In the falling snow, alternating traffic was proceeding utiously in the east bound lane.
Walking alongside the unmoving semi, I saw that a section of concrete barrier had been smashed by the truck. If there had been no barrier, the truck might now be hanging over the edge of the bridge. A man about age 30 was passively observing the scene. I spoke with him and learned he was the owner and driver of the damaged truck.
“I was driving at the posted speed limit,” he told me. “When the truck began to slide I turned away from the barrier, but the truck was already too close. I couldn’t do much.” (Several onlookers disagreed with what the driver said about the speed he had been travelling.) The lanes over the bridge are narrow. In the darkness and steadily falling snow, with oncoming traffic, he would have had little room to maneuver.
The driver seemed surprisingly lm and able to talk about the accident clearly. I detected no indition of alcohol or other substances. “It’s my truck,” he said. “I bought it a few years ago. It’s a wreck now. The frame is bent.”
The driver of the large, very impressive tow truck backed up to within about a dozen feet of the semi. He then attached lines from his truck to the disabled truck. When he attempted to winch the semi forward, the bles made protesting sounds, but the semi refused to budge even an inch.
“The brakes won’t release,” the semi’s owner told me. The ominous groaning of the bles began spooking onlookers, including myself. We moved well away in se the bles snapped from the strain.
“I’m done with trucking,” the driver said, watching his unmoving truck. “When I get back to Abbotsford, I’m going to take the real estate course.”
I decided it might be a while before they managed to dislodge the truck from the bridge. I wished the driver well in the new reer he plans to pursue. He thanked me and said “take re.”
I returned to the accident scene this morning. All that remains is a gaping hole in the barrier and a large chunk of damaged concrete. The police will now have to determine what actually happened.
A small town perspective on people, community, politics and environment.