Remembrance day is tomorrow and I hope that we aren’t so anger fueled by our southern neighbors that we don’t stop for a bit and think about our own country. I get insanely nostalgic for this day, from birth to now as it holds so much significance. Adding to that, 8 years ago tomorrow, I gave birth to Finn, so it’s a pretty important date in the eyes of an 8 year old as well as to me. No less important, in fact it’s even more so as I reflect on this world and the things our ancestors went through to make it so amazing for my kids to grow up in.
Let’s backtrack for a second. I’m sure most of you know I was born into a military family. A base brat through and through for nearly 2 decades of my life. So much so that when I thought about my future I almost enlisted to remain in the military circle. See we moved every 3 or 4 years, we were far from actual relatives, we only had each other but I never once felt bad about that. In fact, I remember with such distinctness all those faces that were always popping by in civilian clothes but then seeing those same faces, dressed in their crisp uniforms when I woud visit my dad – Sarge – in his office. I recall very clearly spending some time there, but it could have been just a handful of times.
From the terribly painted hallways, an extremenely shiny paint, everything was always so similar, gleaming in this whitish paint. All furnishings had a purpose – utilitarian but always clean. From base to base, it remained the same, but then again maybe that happened for alternate reasons – maybe it was a way to make it feel familiar, so that you didn’t get homesick. You were there, after all, for more important reasons. It wasn’t just a job to many. It was a way to give back, serve your country, but to me it was all I ever knew. To me it was my whole universe, or so it seemed in my kid brain.
Those faces, I recall so many, and really it was the best life. THE. BEST. LIFE. I never felt strange always moving, it was part of it and every one I met, every new kid, was living the same life – we had free reign of the base, or again, so it seemed.
My favorite place to live was located in northern Alberta, close to the B.C. border. It was a tiny speck of Canada, the smallest base perched on a hill, neslted in Albertan trees and rough terrain. We woud ATV around the woods, play tennis in a court in our backyard and then they would flood it in winter to entertain us during all those frigid months. No one was worried about strangers taking us, my best friend, Erica, and I would roar around on bikes, playing spies, organizing wee baseball games due to the miniscule amount of kids – the ages ranging from very young to teenagers. We all had to play together as there was no one else but it was fine, no one seemed to be too bothered by it. We’d head to the Canex for 40 cent candy bars, and there was even a small theatre on base that showed all the best movies on Sundays.
As a kid it was amazing.
I don’t know if my parents would agree with that, I mean we had to live in a tiny trailer to start with. There was one channel and it was blurry at best. Although we did get our first VHS there which led to my obsessive watching of The Lost Boys to the point that I could recite it. Sigh, my first vampire love…
In order to get to town for groceries or a Zellers fix, my mom had to brave countless winter storms and always that winding hill going up the side of the mountain was a freaking nightmare. My older sister has since lamented on how awful it was to be a teenager there, I mean, parties in ‘Beaverlodge’ were impossible to get to and she had to deal with me all the time. Sorry Laurie, I love you!! But for a little kid, I just needed a bag of chips, Corey Haim movies and I was content. There would always be parties for the kids, it was extrememly family oriented. Military life was, in my mind, the very best way to grow up.
Sure I missed out on being close to biological family, but I also learned from birth to adapt. I could move tomorrow and be ok with that. I’ve lived all over Canada, my appreciation for this country is vast. It was tough but being forced into a new class every few years sure makes one self-sufficent, and making new friends was old hat. I didn’t have to sit with the same people for years, growing up with the same circle, I had new ones every couple years. Perhaps it makes me flippant about relationships a tad, I’m not sure, but it’s given me the ability to walk into a new place and quickly turn around a social life.
This isn’t saying that I don’t care about the ones I leave behind. I care greatly, I miss them all very much, but I can also see the possibilities of gaining new people to excite me, entertain me and add to my life. I view it as a gift. Something maybe my parents know about, maybe not. If you’re reading this mom & dad – thank you!
I feel so much fondness when I think of my life as a military brat that I actually physically miss it. During Air Show days I sometimes feel like bursting into tears. Not that I’m sad, but I just miss that ‘family’ connection with all those people in uniform. I wasn’t a solider, I didn’t do a damn thing, but I was there for the ride and I loved it. I was included and felt a part of something bigger, something amazing.
Every November 11, I attend the ceremony (well aside from that morning I was pushing Finn out), and again I’m close to tears. When I see the vets in their blazers, their medals displayed proudly, many with watery eyes, plus the men and women in their crisp uniforms, their shoes shined to perfection (I recall my dad shining his every single morning…like every day…I even remeber the box he kept with all his supplies, shining a mirror into his toes). Then I see the young cadets and their adorably perfect outfits, I can’t help but feel sad that I’m not one of them anymore. I feel like I should be able to walk up and share that bond like everybody on base had. No matter who you were, you belonged and you were in it together.
When I think about my job now and how little I contribute to society, how these men and women devote their lives to our country and risk their lives in combat to keep our lives safe, I wish perhaps I would have chosen differently. Not that anyone reading this could picture my hair in such a tight bun, keeping the collars clear of hair and to code! Or see me running through physical training with 50 pounds of gear on, in the pouring rain. Or having to wear the same thing every day, or shoot a gun…although I have been thinking of taking up archery…
Regardless, I think about all of this every single Novemeber, I feel sad but so very blessed to have had that connection…and now I get to add a happy component to the day. I get to watch my kid beam with pride that he was born on ‘Poppy day’. I get to eat cake (Pokemon cake in case you were wondering) and I get to celebrate the day with my new family even though I will always remember my first one. The life my mom and dad chose, I will always be grateful for and I thank them for giving me that. I am also so so beyond happy that they are here for another Remembrance Day, their health still going strong :) They are so important to me and my kids, I just wanted them to know how much their sacrifices meant to me.
I also spend a few minutes of tomorrow looking up to my grandpa in heaven, thanking him for his navy service, and I ALWAYS blubber (espeically with my sister!) during the procession – darn those fecking bag pipes…
Happy Poppy Day :) Cheers mum and dad!
Troy, (Sargeant Lawrence) Dad & Mum