NOVEMBER ELEVENTH is the day when Canadians honor those who gave their lives for their country the same way Americans do on their MEMORIAL DAY.
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Yes! I am here, sweetheart, beneath our beautiful oak tree. Autumn leaves, like burning embers, fall from its canopy and float to the ground. They remind me of that day so long ago.
Our hearts are still buried deep in the trunk of this old Oak as a testimony to our love. I remember the day we carved them. Oh! how the tree bled. Do you remember that sweetheart? Do you remember the stream of sap that ran from those wounds for days? I thought for sure the tree would die, but scars grew round those hearts and healed the wounds.
Not many people pass through this place anymore, but the ones who do, never seem to notice this beautiful tree or our hearts. They are too preoccupied with their electronic devices to see what they are missing.
Oh! it is such a different world today, Mary Beth.
If those passersby only knew what they were missing, they would throw those electronic gadgets away and sit here under this glorious canopy. Yes! throw away those devices and tune into the spirit of how this place was when we were young.
And if they did, they might hear the whispers and sighs of the two young lovers who carved those hearts.
They might hear the tinkling laughter of the children who used to play here, back when this town was a boom town, back when big wooden ships with tall masts and giant canvas sails filled the harbor. These ships, ( some of the finest in the world), built by some of the greatest shipbuilders that ever lived.
Perhaps they might hear the sound of the train that ran from Springhill, Nova Scotia to the coal wharf, or they might see the men who loaded the coal aboard the ships or the captains' who sailed them to all the ports along the Eastern Seaboard.
And if this person were to look closely, they would see our footprints in the crumbling concrete that leads to where a gazebo once stood.
I remember the day they poured the concrete. It was a beautiful day in early June of 1928, when you and I, was taking the short-cut home from school. We were coming up to this very tree when Ernie stepped out from behind it and stopped us.
"Where da ya think yur goin, Runt and Grunt," He taunted.
For a moment, we stood there, frozen with fear. Remember? Do you remember when I kicked him in the shins as hard as I could with my new boots, and he fell to the ground; howling like a coyote?
That was when we took off running as fast as our legs would take us. Do you remember the string of obscenities and death threats Ernie screamed at us as he limped behind in hot pursuit?
Oh, what a day that was!
We were running so fast and looking behind to see how close Ernie was, that neither one of us noticed the string barriers around the newly poured concrete, and we broke right through them.
Mum was madder than a hornet when she saw what I had done to my new boots. Oh! and the taunting I got the next day at school.
"Hey, Gap! WHEREJA GET THEM THAR FANCY CEMENT BOOTS,"
Yep! I heard that every day until the concrete finally wore off those boots. Do you remember that, Mary Beth?
How quickly those years of our childhood passed. How quickly time changed everything. The world went to war, and I had to leave you with nothing but a promise.
It was under this tree when I proposed to you, under this tree when I placed a ring on your finger and promised I'd come back to you. I'm so sorry I broke that promise to you, sweetheart.
Like so many other men from our town, I lived and died by the sea. I was thinking of you, when the torpedo hit our ship. I gave my life for our country, but I gave my heart to you.
Now I lie beneath this old oak tree on this eleventh day of November as you place a wreath on my grave.
I love you, Mary Beth!
I love you, Gap!
In memory of Garfield George, better known as Gap
who was one of 42,000 Canadians who gave their lives in
the line of duty.
Copyright © Elaine George | Year Posted 2018