It’s Remembrance Day tomorrow and always a time to reflect about WW11 and the huge part it played in the lives of my parents. Even their planned wedding date of May 8th, had to be postponed due to VE Day.
How did they meet? My mother, Ethel Hooper, lived in Harrow in the Greater London area and my dad, Aleck, was the son of Ukrainian immigrants to Hope Valley, Alberta. Hope Valley is no metropolitan Mecca. My mother’s mum died of scarlet fever when she was born and there were older siblings. Her grandmother Curtis raised her until she was nine. My Uncle Henry was “farmed out” to relatives (Chestermans) in Hope Valley. When he heard Dad was going overseas, he said, “Here look my sister up.” Henry served in the Canadian Navy.
Introductions were by letter and I have forgotten (or didn’t properly listen) but they did meet, at a crowded London train station. My mother remembered Dad’s letter saying, “I’ll be the one with the bright red face.” He was shy and quiet. One thing led to another.
The picture above was, of course, in black and white but my mum loved colour. At one point in the 50’s “colourizing” these pictures was popular and mum had this one done. You can see the beautiful bouquets. It’s no wonder she always tried to grow roses on the prairies. Her dress was borrowed.
Dad said, when he saw the picture, “Why didn’t you tell me my hair was standing on end.”
Mum’s reply, “I didn’t know you that well.” And yet she married him and shipped out to the Canadian prairies, arriving in the middle of winter. Dad, in his winter attire of parka, felt boots, and hat with ear flaps, was not nearly so dashing as he’d been in uniform.
Life as a farm wife was totally foreign but the neighbours were kind. Mum and Dad raised me and my brother. It wasn’t easy but they made a life together.
Now Remembrance Day commemorates WW1, WW11, Korean, Afghanistan and other veterans. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those that returned, changed forever.
I don’t know if I’ll attend a formal ceremony tomorrow. For sure, I’ll be thinking of my Dad, who like many others, seldom talked about his experiences overseas. I’m not sure what our town is doing. The recognition at the Cenotaph had been moved indoors before the pandemic so I think I’ll just have some quiet times and think of all veterans.