How I Met Your Mom: for Zadie, Shepard & Felix
It’s ironic that today I remember my Papa for something he wanted to forget.
Every year around this time, until his death in 2006, he used to make his way down to the Pier legion for the ceremonies. But at home he almost never talked about the war. Except to say “there were things I don’t want to remember.”
He thought war was a racket — a way to keep the economy going. If he’d lived a few more years, he’d have predicted that the only way out of the global economic crisis was war. Then he would have added: “Mark my words.”
His medals weren’t hidden away, but they weren’t on display either.
Much of Papa’s time was spent in Italy. My dad remembers him talking once about moving through Italy until things were secure. Then his company got a leave and they all went to Rome and saw Pius XII. When my dad first met a pope, and then when I did (John Paul II on a trip to Rome when I was 11), Papa reminded us that he’d beaten us to it.
His army buddies threw him into a huge water cistern once. He almost drowned. They thought he could swim because he was from Cape Breton and lived near the ocean.
He did talk a little about the challenges of feeding so many troops. And, although he never had a driver’s licence at home, about the trucks in Italy and the difficulty of keeping them going under such circumstances.
On more than one occasion (usually very late, after he’d had a couple), he’d reminisce about good times in an Italian village that had been liberated. About local people feeding troops at their homes. About parties in town squares.
Then he’d remember one of his friends, who didn’t come home, and he’d drift off.
Lest he remember. Lest we forget.
Remembrance Day, November 11th, 2012.
Democracy Now, Twitter, Al Jazeera English, NPR, red wine
My wife, Ardelle, and I have been watching US presidential debates and election together since 2004. It’s the ‘date night’ equivalent of a leap-year birthday.
Alex Sheppard is my wife’s 18 year old cousin. He’s currently attending Dalhousie.
Here’s the introductory remarks I wrote for his “Ideas Powered By Passion” talk:
Alex’s volunteer work — with Junior Achievement, all-ages shows, and most recently Lumiere — is a testament to the saying: “Do what you love, and try to find ways to make it matter more.” When Alex started playing in bands — often as the only under-age bass player in a band full of 19+’s — he needed adult accompaniment when playing at Bunkers. Rather than accept this as an inconvenience, or even allow it to become an impediment, he saw it as an injustice that there weren’t more all-ages venues and all-ages shows. So he started organizing some, combining his passion for the arts with the guts to take a risk. Rather than complaining about the youth out-migration problem — or simply saying “This town sucks” and moving on — he looks for ways to make music matter more, treating music and the arts in general as a downtown revitalization effort, a community development initiative, and a youth retention and attraction strategy.
In his talk, Alex identifies a tension in the life of Cape Breton youth — one which has far-reaching implications for both youth “retention” & outmigration, as well as immigration in general. Young people are brought up believing their only hope is to leave… but when they do leave (even if only to attend university elsewhere) they’re characterized as traitors. What a conflict! (“Should I stay or should I go?“)
Young people should be encouraged to pursue their dreams, wherever in the world those dreams take them. And they should be encouraged to return, with their degrees, their experiences, their expectations, and their entitlements.
We have a responsibility and obligation to make it a viable place to live, work, raise a family, and retire. So that when faced with the decision of where to set down roots, that Cape Breton is on the list.
It’s Movember. Here’s the thing, we all know my moustache sucks. It’s a sorry excuse for facial hair, it makes me look like a creep, and it took a full week to even grow something that shows up in the light.
But changing the face of men’s health isn’t supposed to be easy, it isn’t supposed to be comfortable. (I get that it is supposed to be at least occasionally sexy, but I can’t help you there. So here.)
This entire campaign is really about awkwardness: in the doctor’s office, between fathers and sons, between partners and friends. And nothing embodies awkwardness more than my moustache.