Remembrance Day is always a time of ghosts. I have always felt heavily the sacrifices that were made. Maybe more heavily than ever right now, as the world marches in what seems to be the wrong direction.
I knew from a young age that my grandfather had gone to war. He and his two brothers and my grandmother’s brother. One of her sisters went as a nurse. I vaguely knew that my paternal grandfather had also gone to war, but questions went unasked and stories untold.
Since my father’s death I have learned a lot more about my grandfather, his father. Like the fact that he fought in both world wars. He enlisted in the first as a young, unmarried man, and went to the second as a father of two with a wife and a home, initially refused but wouldn’t take no for an answer.
This is the first Remembrance Day without my Gramps. I called him on this day a few years ago to tell him I was thinking about him and he asked why. “Because you’re my veteran,” I explained.
He didn’t talk much about his service until later in life and many stories would come out off the cuff. Like last year when there were hurricanes in the news and he mentioned casually that he had been in a hurricane once.
It’s true. I have a diary he kept during the war. The ship he was on raced a hurricane up the coast after the war ended and when they were coming back to Canada. I found the diary when we moved him into the Perley Rideau about a year before he died at 97. I said to him “You kept a diary during the war,” “We weren’t allowed,” he replied.
“But you did…”
This year I did the Army Run 5k and I submitted my Gramps to Remembrance Row. All along the sidelines of the race were photos of veterans who have passed away. I looked at all the faces, one by one, waiting to see him, and when I did I could not run to him fast enough. My veteran. The one I remember.