Friday, 9 November 2007

Remembrance Day

Originally posted on Yahoo 360 November 11 2006

As a war baby who was liberated by Canadians I take Remembrance Day seriously.
I grew up with stories of the famine of the last winter, and my parents dancing the hokey pokey in the streets during the crazy happy days of May 1945.
"Ha daar zijn de Canadezen! Zou d'r wat te bikken wezen?"
(Goody, here are the Canadians, wonder if there is anything to eat?)

In 1995 when the liberation was 50 years ago, I offered free Reflexology sessions to any veteran who wanted to take me up on it. One special vet did.

Al Butt was not only a veteran, he was a faith healer. His small jewelry store in the side street leading down to the lake had a special peaceful feeling to it. Al embodied the archetype of the wounded healer. He suffered from ankylosing spondilitis and lived in chronic pain. The sessions certainly could not cure him, but they helped with the pain, at least for a while.
Al was a devout Christian but very open-minded. He was fascinated by Reiki. During our weekly session we developed a special friendship till his death two years later.

By the way, Brent Butt, the brilliant creator of  "Corner Gas" is Al's nephew. Corner Gas is Saskatchewan's answer to Seinfeld.

WWI was not a vivid reality to me at all. Fiction provided education on that one. The picture at the top of this blog is the Canadian Vimy memorial in Northern France.
Jane Urquart wrote a stunning novel about its birth.

"The Stone Carvers" ranges in action from a nineteenth-century Bavarian village, through the grim reality of early pioneer life in the Ontario bush, to the battle fields of Vimy and the creation of the monument.

The lover of a missing soldier dresses as a man in order to work on the project. She finds closure by carving his name into the stone. There is much more to it.
This is a dense book by a master writer at her peak.

In spite of the bleak subject matter the totality of the book is uplifting. Highly recommended reading, even if the topic of WWI normally turns you off.

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