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Heroes in the family - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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Heroes in the family [Oct. 26th, 2011|06:21 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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On the inter-connectedness of some things

The MacKenzie-Papineau Monument in Ottawa
The MacKenzie-Papineau Monument in Ottawa. Photo by The Phantom Photographer.

The past couple of weeks have offered some stark reminders of how small the world can seem.

I attended a ceremony at the Spanish embassy on the 20th, and a funeral in the south end of Ottawa on the 22nd. Both events involved family.

I could not help but be reminded of just deep are my own roots into the past. For instance, I am but a single "degree of separation" from the 19th century; my father's father, who lived until 1996, was born in 1899 and fought in the Russian Revolution.

Almost two weeks ago now, my father's last remaining aunt, his mother's sister, passed away (though her funeral was not held until this past Saturday).

I didn't know her well; she had been more of an occasional, if benevolent, presence than a person to me, but the elegies I heard made me wish I had known her much better.

Mother of five, whose husband ran out shortly after the last baby was born, Auntie Pearl raised her children on her own. By all reports, she did so with a generosity and love that spread far beyond her blood-ties; I think close to a hundred people turned out to say goodbye, many of them friends, not family.

Coincidentally and on a much happier note, on my mother's side of the family, my great uncle Jules was in town last week, the last living Canadian veteran of the Spanish Civil War.

Uncle Jules was here at the request of the government of Spain which, finally, was to follow through on a promise made 15 years ago to those who had volunteered to fight against Franco's fascists in the dark days before the Second World War.

Entirely by accident, during a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy, I learned that the man who designed Ottawa's memorial to the "Mac-Paps" lives in Sudbury and knows my mother, as does his wife, who is the editor of Sudbury Living, a magazine for which my mother has been writing recently.

The world can sometimes seem very close indeed. And history too is often not nearly so far away as it seems.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/233031.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

[User Picture]From: sabotabby
2011-10-26 11:22 pm (UTC)
She sounds like quite the woman.

How is Uncle Jules? He seemed like such an awesome guy that time I met him.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2011-10-26 11:56 pm (UTC)

Indeed she does ...

Jules is mostly deaf and mostly blind and very frail. He seems to sleep a lot. His story is coming to its end but by all reports, and my encounter at the ceremony and later, at his grand-daughter's home, tell me that he remains compos mentis.

Still, there's no denying I would prefer to drop dead all of a sudden than to slowly fade away. (I reserve the right to change that preference should I be fortunate enough to reach my own dotage.)
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