Tuesday, November 6, 2012


     I know my blog is supposed to be focussed on my journey with ovarian cancer and for the most part I try to do that. But today, I cannot help thinking about Dad. It's getting pretty close to Remembrance Day and so I wanted to honour him in some little way. 
     If I have to make a connection to Dad and ovarian cancer, I can. I recall the morning of my surgery in London. I wanted desperately to see him before I went under the knife, so Gilles, my sweet hubby, took me to Dad's home which was maybe just over a kilometre from the hospital. It was early in the morning - 6:30 - so I wondered if he would even be up. I was so sad when after many tries at the doorbell and knocking, no one answered. I would go to the hospital anyway. I had to. But I was sadly lacking a final hug from my poppa bear. 
     When we arrived at the hospital, imagine my surprise when we entered the waiting room, there was Dad. All 82 years of him, seated on his motorized scooter, wearing his British tweed jacket and fedora. I wept like a baby as he hugged me and said he wanted to see me before I had surgery. I will never forget Dad's act of selflessness that morning. He had left home in the dark on his scooter just so he could be with 'his Dinny,' so he said...I love my dad...

The Royal Marines
 more than just a green beret, it's a state of mind! 

      I heard that saying somewhere. It's a slogan about the  British Royal Marines. I wonder if maybe Dad didn't utter those words sometime or maybe I read this catchphrase in his Globe and Laurel Royal Marines magazine somewhere. Wherever I heard it, it actually holds a measure of truth. Even now, 59 years after Dad left the RM 45 Commando ranks, he still has the state of mind of a Royal Marine.

     Another snappy slogan that anyone who knows Dad well has heard a million times:

'Once a Marine, Always, a Marine!'

It's true, too. The sticker on Dad's scooter says so. But not only does the sticker say so, so do the pictures on Dad's wall.

If my mother was still alive I am sure she would have him drawn and quartered for adorning the kitchen and hallway with all his fine military photos and memorabilia. But Dad lives alone now, so his walls are his to adorn. And adorn he does.

Dad, though, does not decorate his walls simply with pictures of yesteryear. They are stories; representations of a life lived according to the military - both good and challenging. Ask Dad about any of the black and white photographs on the wall. Each one will spark a memory; an experience and a story. For anyone who is interested and who would take the time to listen, he will use a plethora of words and his years of experience to relay the story in each one.

Since Mom passed away and Dad moved to Drayton, close to where I hang my hat, I have come to know Dad so much more. I am happy to be able to hear his stories and help him swap and switch his framed 'stories' around whenever he adds something else to the lot on the wall. Dad is 86 now and his memory is excellent. His stories are not always the glory and the honour; many are sad and troubling - although Dad is still loathe to go into any kind of detail of the horror of war. And I think, personally, I don't need to know those details.

There is no way in this world that I will be able to recall the precise setting of each picture nor relay the series of events told in each representation. My memory is just not that good. So I had an an idea. I have started a little journal. I have put a number on the back of each photograph and then the same number appears in the journal. When Dad is ready, he relays the story behind the picture. What an amazing experience that is. To know and to learn so much about my father's past. It's like a little piece of history coming to life right before my eyes.

     One day with a little help from my daughter who is good in the photography department, we can put a book together for our family. We can remember through Dad's eyes, the events that made him into who he is today. I am proud of my poppa. He has been through a lot. He lost his mother when he was only two years old. He enlisted when he was just over 16 years of age. Shortly after that, his father died. So he hasn't had an easy life.

    This week as I don my poppy I will think of Dad and all the other brave men and women who fought, and battled so that generations to come could taste freedom. I will thank God for the gift of life. I will bow my head in prayer for all that I have as a result of many sacrifices of the courageous men and women who lived and fought through the war. I will try to remember to never take anything for granted and I will count Dad in as one of the most treasured blessings in my life.


guineapigmum said...

I follow your blog because I too have ovarian cancer, but this post struck an odd chord. My father in law, who would be (Ithink) about 81 now, was also in the BRitish Royal MArines. And he lived his final years in the village of Drayton in |Somerset, ENgland, where my mother in law still lives. What is your fatehr's name and I shall ask M-i-L if she knew him? (My blog is down at the moment but will be back at some point soon).

Janet Martin said...

What a wonderful tribute to your poppa:) May we never forget!
Glynis, I'm always wiping my eyes after I finish reading your posts. For some reason you have been in my thoughts and prayers a little more this week