Just Sitting Here Reflecting

Today is Boxing Day in England. This tradition has spilled over here in Canada and other Commonwealth Nations. If you are interested, you can find out all about Boxing Day on the internet. That is not my intent other than to say in these modern times it is really an extra day off. Lots of shopping deals are available that compares to “Black Friday” in the United States.

So this morning I sit here next to the woodstove with a roaring fire in Quebec, Canada visiting my son, his wife and our two-month-old grandson. We also visited with my daughter-in-law’s family Christmas Eve, which was really interesting. Obviously, I’m from the United States and speak English. This part of our extended family speaks French-Canadian. I find it interesting to hear them visit amongst themselves and talk in their native tongue. Eventually one of them will tell me what is being said so I can catch up on the conversation. Perhaps I should make the effort to learn the basics of French-Canadian so I can follow along a little better when we visit the next time.

Spending Christmas with family and friends is so much fun. Eating lots of traditional family meals that later require some of us to find the Tums in the medicine cabinet to calm down a bubbling gut. That is a small price to pay for such good food. Christmas dinner was absolutely delicious. We had Boeuf à la Provenςale with egg noodles. We had fresh carrot salad with raisins and my wife made her “famous” Candy Cane butter cookies.

These past few days are in such contrast from where we live in Southern California. There is about 18 inches of snow on the ground and my son and I shoveled snow to keep the driveway clear. Now we have to figure out how to walk or perhaps slip and slide on the layer of ice exposed from under the fresh layer of snow. The woodstove is making it cozy inside this well built hundred year home. The temperature outside is a balmy -10 celsius, for you other Yankees like me that means about 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

So I sit here and think to myself how lucky I really am. I have a loving family and extended family. I have two grandsons that actually make me feel younger and today on Boxing Day, I have the blessing of sitting here and just reflecting.

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Wondering What He Would Be Doing Today?

Every year on December 8th since 1980 I pause and think about John Lennon. A horrible day when his life was taken 36 years ago. That day part of my life caved in, and a hole inside of me still exists at the insanity of such a horrific act to a man, musician, and icon who wanted only to change the world to be a better place.

This blog post is not about John’s life nor his struggles as a world renown personality and a person that changed music for many generations. This blog post is about how I found out he had been murdered.

December 8, 1980, my wife and I lived in the far reaches of Northern British Columbia, Canada. We lived outside of Fort Nelson, British Columbia at mile marker 295 of the Alaska Highway.

Our small son, Isaiah would turn 3 years old in a couple of months. Of course Louise, my wife was 8 months pregnant with our second son to be born in January 1981.

In Fort Nelson, we were renting a small two-bedroom cabin. Small meaning about 400 square feet small. That cabin was easy to keep warm because in the north country where we lived -50 below Fahrenheit is not that uncommon.

I had a job at the Fort Nelson General Hospital in the maintenance department. That is how I supported my family while Louise took care of our little boy and worked at being pregnant. To her credit, she also did sign painting. I remember Louise got a job painting a company logo on the door of a logging truck. She clambered up there as pregnant as could be and painted that logo. The owner let’s say was a little nervous, but my pregnant trooper would not be denied.

We had no television in our cabin. The only thing we had to find out what was going on in the world was a., (are you ready for this?). All we had was a ladybug record player that my son had to listen to 45 RPM records of children’s stories and music. The ladybug record player had a radio built into it, and on cold winter nights I could pick up the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or better known as the CBC.

The CBC is critical to the north country and many times is the only line of communication to these small communities. So in the evenings after supper, while watching Isaiah play in front of the heater I would sit and listen to the CBC on the ladybug.

On December 8, 1980, the voice of the CBC is where I first heard the news that would alter my life. The murder of John Lennon in New York City. Shock is not the right word to use as the news spilled out around the world even in faraway Fort Nelson, British Columbia.

Part of me died that night. A part of my own identity perished at the blink of an eye. I had nowhere to turn to express my grief. I mourned for over two-weeks as if a close family member had died. Since that night 36 years ago I still mourn his loss now of course with a lot less pain, but I wonder every year on December 8th what John Lennon would be doing if he were alive today.

And for me, the words he wrote so many years ago, I still hum, “Give peace a chance.”