I Remember

Remembrance Day.

As if the date itself remembers its significance as a chill to the bone, grey bands of clouds like smoke roll to the horizon. A hopeful sun brings little warmth to a heavy heart. Wind whips through bush and branch, sweeping up fallen leaves, carrying the message, ‘remember.’

I close my eyes. I remember.

Standing, forever, outside. Shivering.

A parade of footsteps echoing off Exeter town hall until a sergeant barks orders halting

the march.

Waiting.

Silence, but for the wind lifting lapels and hems of coats, pressing skirts against stockinged legs, jingling medals on breast pockets.

Crackling electricity activates the loudspeaker mounted on

a blue Chevrolet.

Prayers, poems and scriptures … mark our place … lest we forget.

The disobedient microphone cuts in and out like snapshots of intermittent memories that flash across veterans’ faces with heads held high.

Waiting.

Standing in silence.

My mom,mom remembrance day 1971

standing tall in her belted trench coat, white gloves and navy legion beret, her rosacea cheeks the only colour on her face.

One of few women in this sea of former soldiers.

She wears no medals.  Only scars, memories, crosses she bears, choices she made.

Moeilijk. Dit leven.

Initial nervous sputtering notes escape a trumpet as the Last Post rings out.

My dad,

confidence building as he plays through his anxiety, his own memories, his own lost brother.

Music his medicine.

A minute of silence.

Waiting

For the bagpipe drone to wield its mournful tune until

The reveille brings relief, gives permission for all to exhale, relax their shoulders.

A knowing glance shared momentarily between veterans before returning to their lives

since the war.

Nowadays, when my brother, sisters and I observe Remembrance Day, we stand tall, clenching teeth and fists, fingernails in palms, catch in throat. Waiting. To breathe.

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