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Life can be puzzling. I know mine certainly has been. Puzzles have always been a part of my life. So many kinds! He-Who loves to do the Crosswords and I have always enjoyed a good Jumbo Sudoku. These days, however, they frustrate me more than anything but I have to keep doing them for therapy.

SudokuThere were always Jigsaw Puzzles under the Christmas tree when I was a child. I can’t really tell you whose name appeared on the gift tag, but once opened, it became community property. In our home, we had a card table that would go up when the puzzle beckoned to be put together. Then, all the pieces would be dumped on the table. Someone would start turning them right side up, one at a time, and moving them to an edge of the table. Someone else would join in and start assembling the straight edges of the puzzle. Then, someone else, hovering and watching, would see a piece that fit, lean in, pick it up and place it into the picture. Before you knew it, we would all be sitting around and filling in the blanks. Many hours were spent this way with my sisters when I was a child — passing around the box cover to get a good look at what we were creating. At times there was no conversation, just concentration. Other times there would be giggling and laughing and stories shared. I’d forgotten about that. The puzzles stopped after my Mom passed and we were separated at various times and places.

As a young adult living on my own without a lot of disposable income, puzzles came back into my life. One caught my eye and it wasn’t long before I had the card table set up and was sorting out the pieces. After that, seldom would you enter my apartment without a puzzle at some stage of creation, welcoming you. Often, people who came by would end up sitting with me, coffee in hand (OK, more likely Scotch… depending on the time of day) catching up with each other while working on the puzzle.

house puzzleThere were a couple of issues with my jigsaw…shall we say, “habit”. I couldn’t stand to take them apart after they were done. I would find a board and glue the pieces down so that they’d stay put. Sometimes I’d have them framed and give them to someone to “proudly” (my word, not theirs) display in their home. Eventually I discovered plaquing. A nice coat of decoupage and then off to the plaquing place I would go. It would be mounted, sealed with a plastic coating and it was ready to be hung. I’m not sure if habit is the right word, perhaps addiction or obsession is more like it. One particular cold, snowy day, I came home early in the afternoon because of a blizzard. I remember walking into my apartment, glad for the warmth. From where I stood an illusive puzzle piece caught my eye. My thick gloves flew off as I walked over to the table. I triumphantly placed the piece where it belonged. Several hours later, I heard the phone ringing from somewhere far away. It was insistent and getting louder. It was my phone. As I walked to answer it in the kitchen (no cells back then), I noticed the storm must have gotten worse, it was so dark out. My friend said, “I just wanted to check that you made it home safely before I went to bed.” I was surprised she was going to bed so early in the day. Except she wasn’t. It was well into the night. I had been standing for hours, working on that puzzle. I hadn’t taken off my winter coat, boots, hat or scarf. I hadn’t sat down, drank, ate or even had a pee for crying out loud!

Most of the time I tend to think and work as if I am piecing together a puzzle. In the edit suite at the TV station it was always about piecing together a story. When I am writing I often have a beginning and an ending but need to make the stuff in the middle fit together. Once, I set up a puzzle in the lunch room at the TV station. It was a welcome distraction for everyone. We were having trouble making something work on the studio floor and with tension mounting and personalities flaring, a lunch break was called. After a bit of teamwork on the puzzle we returned and things just fell into place.

Put together by Staff and Crew at CTS TV.

Put together by Staff and Crew at CTS TV.

Over the years I tried to find more challenging puzzles. I tried a black and white one of a vampire and his prey. My nephew ended up with that one. Next I tried a round one. No corners. No problem. Then I got into mosaics. The first one I did was fun. It was a huge Mickey Mouse. The image was actually made up of thousands of little tiny cells from the original Disney animations and it hung on our wall for years.

Mickey Blog

The second…and last mosaic I did was the hardest. Not because of its level of  difficulty, but because of the emotional impact it had on me. It was of the New York City Skyline prior to 9/11. This photomosaic was designed by Robert Silvers and created from thousands of miniature photographs of people lost in 9/11. I cried for every one of the 1,026 pieces of that puzzle and saw those faces in my sleep for some time. It was plaqued and hangs in my brother-in-law’s home in Lewiston, New York.

Twin Towers pieces blog

Somewhere along the line, my older sister came to visit. When she saw I was working on a puzzle she went to it and started working. I was shocked. I said, “I didn’t know you liked to do puzzles.” She was quite surprised. “Of course I do. We all do. There was always one on the go when we were kids.” How could I have forgotten that? It was the closest I’d felt to family in a long time.

Michelle Puzzle

The puzzle pieces of my life haven’t always fit together perfectly. Quite frankly, there will always be pieces missing. But every once in a while, I find a piece and fill in another section. When I was 27, I met my birth father and three sisters I hadn’t known. More pieces that I wasn’t sure how to make fit.  A couple of years ago I moved back to Niagara Falls for a few months. I was able to spend time with old friends and family that still lived in the area. It was also an opportunity to spend some time with one of my “newer” sisters. The only thing she has ever asked me to do turned out to be one of my most cherished gifts. She wanted me to get to know her daughter Jane, who was only 10 at the time. I had no clue what to do. I’ve spent tons of time with nieces and nephews that I have known from the time they were born. I’ve baby sat, we’ve had adventures and special times. I love them all. All of a sudden I am looking at my sister thinking, “How can I do this without a history?” As usual I was skint and couldn’t take Jane places or buy her things. But I wanted to know this beautiful child as much as her mom wanted me to.

I showed up on their doorstep with…wait for it…a jig-saw puzzle in hand and nervous as hell. In all honesty, I think her father wasn’t too impressed and thought I might be missing a few “pieces” myself. Over the next few months we put puzzles together and really got to know each other. Jane’s piece fits perfectly in my heart and I will always be grateful that I was given the opportunity to know her. We even found a portable case for puzzles. Now we can keep one on the go for whenever I visit and it can easily be put away until the next time.

Puzzling Jane

I’m thinking that it’s time to start a new puzzle — at home. There are a few people around I’d like to get to know a little better. Yes, life can be quite the puzzle.

 

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This is not my favourite time of year. It is a difficult day for me and for some reason this year it seems amplified. No particular reason except maybe I am entering that “sentimental old fool” phase of my life. One of my more recent blogging buddies, The Hook, (I suggest visiting him but not while drinking anything that can come out your nose when you laugh) has been wandering through some of my older posts. This is his subtle way of letting me know I need to write more. When he comments I have to go back and read them myself to respond. This particular post reminds of how blessed I am with all the children in my life.

•••

Not The Momma!

As Mother’s Day fast approaches I am reminded daily that I am not a Mother. I have never been a Mother. I have never been blessed with having children of my own. It wasn’t that I don’t like kids, or that I didn’t want kids. It just wasn’t in the cards.

I have, however, a bounty of children in my life. I have been very fortunate that my sisters have been more than willing to share their children with me. Yes, I am Auntie M to most and I love them all dearly. Over the years I have spent a great deal of time with my siblings children and have been quite fortunate to have some wonderful relationships with them. The girls are fun and we get to do girl stuff together. The boys can be awkward but I thrive when we find a common ground and build a trusting relationship. I have been there for them all whether it was to celebrate something good, cry about something bad, vent about their parents, query about the opposite sex or bail them out of jail. I have changed diapers, shopped for prom dresses, cleaned up throw up – all the joys only a mother should know.

One of the most amazing experiences of my life came from my husband’s youngest and her husband. They allowed me to be a part of the birth of their children, something I could never have experienced on my own. Yes, I helped to deliver their son and then a couple of years later their daughter. In fact, the second time they asked me to cut the cord! You can’t imagine the torture that young girl has endured ever since,what with me bragging about her having the most amazing belly button in the world. (Seriously, I sent pictures of her belly button to people instead of baby pictures).

Watching all the children in my life grow over the years has given me great joy, and yes also some heartache. I could not be more proud or love them more if I was their Mother. One is now overseas, serving in Afghanistan, not for the first time. Another followed me into the television industry and another is studying harder than anyone I know to become a teacher. I could carry on with the list, they are all amazing, but there are a lot of them.

I hope they will all do me proud and remember to thank their Mother’s on Mother’s Day, and tell them how much they love them and how grateful they are that they are their Mother. I know I thank them for being Mothers and am ever grateful for them allowing me to be a part of their children’s lives.

We have a new first time Mom this Mother’s Day in my family. My youngest niece, who also happens to be my Goddaughter, gave birth on March 31st, to the most beautiful little girl. Ellee Rose will be loved and shared and cherished by all the Mom’s in the family and by her Auntie M.

•••

Since its writing a lot has changed. Little Ellee is now three and cruising around in her Nanna’s backyard in her own vehicle.

Ellee driving 2013

Ellee Cruising In Pink

One year old Logan is the new baby and he is doing cruising of his own in his own way.

Logan On The Cruise

Logan On The Cruise

Cyndi (the belly button girl) is now dancing and drawing cartoons of me that resemble an old granny.

Cyndi Dancing

Cyndi Dancing

I have also had the honour of getting to know a very special young lady named Jane. She is 10 and has taught me a lot in the past few months. She has a very special place in my heart and I am grateful she has let me love her.

Sweet Jane

Sweet Jane

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own Mom.  I was only 12 when she passed but she was an amazing Mother who lived, breathed and died for her children. Her love for us was unconditional. She will always be loved and always be missed.

My Mom

My Mom

Thank you, Hook, for reminding me exactly how blessed I am.

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It’s a new year.
2013
I’m happy to start a new year.
2012 was not one of my favourite years but I don’t wish it away for anything because along with some of the really bad things that happened, a lot of really great things happened.

This year for the first time in my life I am making a New Year’s resolution that I know without a doubt I am going to keep. I promise on my honour for as long as I live, I will never, and I do mean never, move during the Christmas Holidays again. If some insane impulse ever makes me even contemplate this I beg all of you to please slap me upside the head. Do not hold back. Just swing back and wallop me with everything you have got!

Who in their right mind would ever decide to do such a thing? Well, I did find someone else who has done it. Amy over at The Bumble Files had a tale to tell in her A Christmas Journey: Ghost of the Past. I am letting her use the “temporary insanity” card.

craycray

It seemed like a good idea at the time and I was excited about being back in Niagara Falls for Christmas. I had a plan. I was organized. I made gigantic labels for everything so there would be no confusion.

1) STORAGE     2) NIAGARA FALLS     3) DUMP

Niagara Label

Big Labels should have worked.

I had been purging for weeks and thought I had it all figured out. “Ha!” I say, “Ha!”. Let me just say this, the move began Friday Dec. 21st. Never in my wildest imagination of disasters did I picture us having to drive back to Oshawa everyday (including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) except for Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Pieces of furniture were missed that were to go in storage and we were unable to get them in the car so we had to rent a vehicle. A lot of things were missed with the load that went to the dump and the Christmas presents I had carefully labelled with the children’s name that were to receive them and set aside somehow ended up in storage. I hope. Yes, we were the last ones to leave Walmart on Christmas Eve trying to not disappoint a little one. Did I mention that we finally got the winter storms that had been predicted? The driving back and forth was pretty nerve wracking.

We had made arrangements in advance for some temporary measures to be taken both with Canada Post and with our internet provider as this location was not to be our final destination. When it came time to implement these plans all of a sudden we were told, “you can’t do that”. In the panic that ensued (admittedly more from me than from He-Who) tears were shed (yeah, me again) and we had to figure out a new plan. Needless to say we were off-line far too long. Somehow I am no longer getting all the notifications for the blogs I follow. It may take forever and a day to catch up on my reading and commenting but I am trying. If I miss any please forgive me in advance.

That being said I do have to acknowledge some awards bestowed upon me before the big moving fiasco.

Thank you Lisa from Life With The Top Down for “passing forward” the Liebster Award to me and to Meredith at The Wanderlust Gene for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.  I have come to admire both these women for their writing and feel that I have come to know them well from our “comment” conversation.  With each award there is always a criteria to follow for passing along the honour so here we go.

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Award

According to Lisa, Liebster (pronounced: leeb-stir) is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.  The Liebster Blog Award recognizes up and coming bloggers and winners are asked to “pay it back and forward.”  The award is given to those bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The Rules for the Liebster Award are as follows: 

  • Link back to the blogger who gave you this award
  • Post the award to your blog
  • Post 11 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions asked of you, plus create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer
  •  Nominate 11 people you think deserve the award and link them to your post.
  • Go to their pages and tell them they have been chosen

Rules of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

  • All recipients need to thank the giver
  • Post 7 things about yourself
  • Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers of their choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  • Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog

 

I’m going to do a little cheating here and answer the 11 questions Lisa asked me and hopefully you will accept that as the “things about myself” for both awards.

1.  What is you favorite song of all time?

It’s A Wonderful World – has to be Louis singing it.

2.  Boxers, briefs, boy shorts, granny panties, thong or the universal choice of Commando?

Boy Shorts – To be honest it depends on who is doing the wearing.

3.  Would you break the law to save a loved one?

Without thinking twice.

4.  Would you go back to being a teenager, without the wisdom you have now?

I was much wiser as a teenager. Also, I could always use that I was “young and stupid” as an excuse.

5.  What are you most grateful for?

The short period of time I had with my Mother.

6.  Are you a beach or mountain kind of person?

Beach. Beach. Beach.Beach.Beach.Beach

7.  Reveal one of your guilty pleasures?

American Hogger fascinated me.

8.  Are you a dark, milk or white chocolate lover?

I know I will never hear the end of this but I am not a fan of chocolate. Give me butterscotch or caramel. If I had to choose chocolate it would be white.

9.  If you could give a newborn child one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be kind.

10.  What is your best childhood memory?

Listening to my Mother sing.

11.  Do you act your age or your shoe size?

Neither…lately I have been acting way older than my shoe size.

I am passing forward the Liebster Award to:

Woggins Writing •  Twenty8 • Meredith With Her Mouth Open • There And Back • My Ideal Woman • Vyvacious • Edith Levy Photograpy • Cowboys and Crossbones • Matterings of Mind • Bohemian Sentiments • Personal Perceptions

The 11 questions I have chosen for the above bloggers are …

1) What is your favourite line from a movie?

2) Name three songs you have sung most recently.

3) What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

4) Dog or cat?

5) Name your top five TV shows (past or present)?

6) When you walk with someone you love do you hold hands or link arms?

7) What is the one thing that will bring a smile to your face even on your darkest day?

8) Would you rather walk through a garden or on a beach?

9) Have you ever worn socks with sandals?

10) If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

11) Have you ever laughed so hard something embarrassing happens?

Here are my seven nominees for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

IfYouNeverTri • Life On A Silva Platter • Words We Women Write • Jean Day Friday • A Londoner From Afar • Articles of Absurdity JavaGirls Life

One other honour I would like to mention is that I was “Freshly Pressed”. Being “Freshly Pressed” is something I think we all would like to happen whether we admit it or not. Le Clown On Fire actually campaigned to have it happen to him. In my case the post that brought me the honour was actually written on another blog I am a part of called Canadica.  It is a collaboration of  a group of American and Canadian bloggers pretty much poking fun at each other’s country. If you are looking for a good laugh I suggest you check it out.

One final thing I would like to mention as we start burning through another year. He-Who has decided that he is no longer “He Who Shall Remain Nameless For His Own Protection” and has taken to calling himself  “He-Who Must Not Be Blamed”. This is going to be an interesting year.

Silk Purse Productions

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Yesterday Amy over at The Bumble Files wrote a wonderful piece, “How About a Lovely Tree In Your House“, that inspired some memories leading me to share with her an old post from when I first started blogging on a very irregular basis. (No need to point out I am still pretty much irregular). I have been struggling with the Christmasy post I was working on and I’m pretty sure only 3 people read the original post so with Amy’s insistance encouragement here is an updated version of the story.

My most vivid memories of Christmas include my Mom. She always made it a very special time for us. To us she was Christmas. We lost her when I was 12 and each one of us took that part of her and hung on to it in our own way. My sister Pat is the over the top Christmas Queen in our family. For me, two things bring me right back to my childhood Christmases. First, the song Silver Bells brings me to my Mother’s side, and I can hear her singing it or humming. The other, is the Christmas tree…the very real Christmas tree.

We always had a real tree growing up. In my early teens I had to fight for it. My Dad had started to introduce the idea of an artificial tree. When I was 15 I lost that fight. I was devastated and stayed in the basement. Now, at that time I had a group of friends that hung out in my basement all the time. We did everything together and were pretty much inseparable. My friend Jimmy, who I have always called JQ, knew how upset I was. We were close and he just “got” what it meant to me. JQ walked to the closest place he could find a tree. It was in the lot of a local Church. Did I mention we were 15? We didn’t have our drivers licenses yet, so JQ dragged that tree all the way back to my basement. When he showed up with it one half was pretty much worn off, but, it was the most beautiful tree in the world as far as I was concerned. That night all the gang came over. Everyone brought leftover lights from their homes and stuff to make ornaments with. We spent the night making some pretty funny looking ornaments and stringing popcorn for the tree. It was a wonderful tree and I still have some of the ornaments.

JQ is one of those special friends that become a part of you and your life and you always have a connection with. He is like that for many people. It is his nature. In later years when I was ill and on my own, JQ would again show up on my doorstep with a Christmas tree (this time he drove it there so it had all its branches intact) with his two beautiful little girls in tow. It was wonderful. Watching him set it up and the little ones helping him make it come alive. Over the next several years that became almost a tradition. JQ and his daughters would bring me my Christmas tree and decorate it. I have pictures of them with the finished tree every year that shows them growing up. I do hope JQ knows how much it meant to me that he helped keep my Christmas alive.

JQ & His Daughters Making Christmas for Me

JQ & His Daughters Making Christmas for Me

When He-Who and I celebrated our first Christmas he knew the score right from the beginning. He had heard many times how JQ had saved Christmas. A tough act to follow, but, My He-Who stepped up to the plate. He would scour the lots and always bring home the best tree for us each year. Until…

Yes, until, the year he was travelling through Texas and New Mexico with his daughter just before Christmas. He was on the phone every day promising he would be home in time to get me my tree. A funny thing happened that year. For some reason there was a shortage of Christmas trees in the US and Canadian trees were being shipped at a premium stateside. Newspapers and newscasters started talking about how hard it was to find a tree now. I started to worry, and told him he was going to have a hard time finding a tree. “Don’t worry. I always find you the perfect tree, I won’t let you down”. I’m sure he thought I was making it up until he arrived home shortly before Christmas and saw the headlines. He-Who, being He-Who, was sure he could still find me one. He searched and searched and phoned to tell me about his lack of progress. He decided he would have to bite the bullet and buy an artificial tree. He had no idea at the time the run there was on artificial trees because of the lack of real ones and he was starting to sweat. He knew no matter what he did he couldn’t win at this point. I remember it clearly, like it was yesterday. I had been in the edit suite all day finishing up Christmas promos.

He-Who: I’m really sorry, but I can’t find a real Christmas tree.
Me: Did you think I was making it up? I tried to tell you.
He-Who: So I went looking for an artificial tree.
Me: (eyes welling up) I don’t want an artificial tree.
He-Who: Well there weren’t any left anywhere. But, I found this small tree at Canadian Tire. It was the last one. It is really pretty. It’s fiber optic.
Lots of silence…
Me: You bought me a fiber optic Christmas tree? (Crying ensued)
He-Who: But it’s really pretty
Me: (suck it up he feels bad enough) OK, well at least I can put my ornaments on it.
He-Who: (poor bastard) Ummm, no you can’t, you can’t put ornaments on a fiber optic tree.
Me: (more crying) OK, well at least I can put the angel Lorne (my boss) gave me for Christmas on it.
He-Who: (poor, poor bastard) Well, actually you can’t. You can’t put anything on it. It is fiber optic.
Me: (a lot more crying).
He-Who: (poor, poor, poor bastard)

The rest of the day I sniveled through and blubbered my way home, threatening to report him to JQ for anti Christmas activity.

When I arrived home he had set it up quite lovely. He stood beside it meekly, waiting. I cried. “That’s not a tree, that’s a psychedelic bush! That’s Ralph.” Note: I have this habit of naming things. And Ralph was the worse name I could think of. (That was before I had met my brother-in-law Ralph, who I like a lot, so sorry Ralph.)

People came and went over the Holiday season. They would come in and admire Ralph. He-Who would smile triumphantly and I would explain that although it was a pretty thing, it was in no way a Christmas tree.

White Christmas Holidays ended and He-Who went off on business again. Ralph remained in my living room. I put the rest of the decorations away, but this was He-Who’s creature and he was to deal with it. I started reading this book called “White Christmas” by Jody Rosen  , the story of how Irving Berlin penned the now famous & traditional song we all know and love. It tells the tale of the Russian-Jewish immigrant who wrote America’s yuletide ballad that would become the world’s all-time top-selling and most widely recorded song. Somehow, it struck a chord with me that if Irving Berlin could come to mean so much to those of us who loved Christmas, then so could Ralph. By the time My He-Who returned home Ralph had become Irving and we had bonded.

Somehow, out of stubbornness by both of us, Irving stayed up all year long. On principle, I was still not putting him away. The truth is I didn’t want to tell He-Who that Irving had become my confident and I talked to him all the time. The following year, Irving was a welcome member of our celebrations, and he was finally put away after the season. Irving continues to celebrate every Christmas season with us, but

Irving

Irving

… he is still not a real Christmas Tree.

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Merry Christmas Everyone

Christmas Logo Separation Bar

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A long weekend always always brings to mind endless eating, lots of family and some down time. I understand it is Columbus Day in the US today. It is Thanksgiving here in Canada.

Unfortunately, He-Who has to work this Holiday weekend so there will be no festive feast (although we pretty much have the whole endless eating thing down). We don’t live near any family any more so any visiting I do is via Skype and as for “down time”, did I mention He-Who is working?

Now, before you start thinking this is a pity party let me say, it is not.  I am a very fortunate person and have an endless list of things to be grateful for.

• I am grateful that He-Who has a job that keeps us warm and full and that he is willing to spend endless hours in heavy traffic to get to and from that job

• I am grateful for Skype. It is difficult to be away from the people you love and Skype allows me to visit with them in their home almost like I am sitting there. My youngest niece knows how much I miss her and that I often feel that I am missing so much of her baby girl’s life. She will often just call me on Skype and then go about her business while chatting with me. Her little one will pop up and say “hi”, play games with me and show me her latest acquisitions. I believe that she thinks her Auntie and her Uncle He-Who live in the computer.

• I am grateful for my friends and family, although I seldom see them they are always in my heart.

• I am grateful that both my sister and I are “survivors”

• I am grateful that ,although my Mom did not “survive”, that I  had her in my life for the first 12 years and that she loved me unconditionally.

• I am grateful for all the people in my life that have come and gone, always leaving behind a memory, a lesson or love.

• I am grateful that I was given a strong foundation as a child and that my faith has never left me.

• I am grateful that I am Canadian. I was born in a country that has so many freedoms and advantages. I really like that we have Thanksgiving a month before the  US. It gives us a full extra month to get ready for that big turkey dinner at Christmas.

This weekend I am really grateful that I have my trail in all its glory to spend some time on. It reminds me of how grateful I am for all the things above and more. Please let me share some of this beauty with you as I am very grateful for you, Dear Reader, every time you stop by to have a look, a “like” or leave a comment.

Thank You.

Path

INTERESTING Fall Colours

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Every Remembrance Day, for as long as I can remember, I spent with my Dad. Whether it was at a Cenotaph, in an arena or auditorium, or beside a sickbed; I was with my Hero… my Dad at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This year, I will stop at the appointed time and take pause with 2 minutes of silence & reflection to remember, but this year will be different. I will be on my own. I will be remembering my Dad.

Dad enlisted before he had turned 18 and fought in the 2nd World War and in Korea. He served in Canada, Britain, the Central Mediterranean Area, Northwest Europe and the Far East. I now cherish the medals and decorations he was the recipient of. His documents say they are the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp and War Medal 1939-45, Korea Medal and United Nations Service Medal. He wore them proudly.He was a proud Veteran and taught me well what the day represented. He was a proud Father & Grandfather especially when accompanied by his sons & grandsons who also served our country.

THREE GENERATIONS

In his civilian life he continued to serve his Country & Community and received the Commemorative Medal marking the 125th anniversary of Confederation. He was also very active in his Legion for many years. In fact, many of our family celebrations took place at the Legion. Today I would like to share an article that my Dad wrote about the Legion in Niagara Falls, ON. It appeared in the Niagara Falls Review in a section called First Words.

LEGION HAS LONG HISTORY HERE By BILL GILLIES

The first veterans organization to form in Niagara Falls was known as The Great War Veterans Association. This group came together in 1917. Then in 1925 the many and diverse veterans organizations decided they would be more effective as a single group and The Royal Canadian Legion became a reality, as the Branch 51 indicates Niagara Falls Received the 50 first charter in Ontario.
The Royal Canadian Legion from its beginning was first and foremost about remembrance. The Legion conducts annual services of remembrance in our nations capital and in communities throughout Canada on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month. These services are in memory and to honour our comrades who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Every year youth Remembrance Day essay, poster and poem contest are held with the winners, at the national level, being taken to Ottawa for the Nov. 11 service. The Silver Cross Mother representing mothers across Canada who lost sons and daughters during conflict in which our country was involved is sponsored by the Legion.
The first Legion building was on Roberts Street but the longtime home of Branch 51 remembered by many in Niagara was the white frame house on Victoria Ave. at Stamford Street, that was home from 1918 to 1971. In the beginning at our first home, support was provided mainly for veterans as many servicemen and women returning from the First World War suffering from war related illness and wounds were left on their own. It will be a surprise to many that 18 to 20 veterans at one time were housed and fed at Branch 51; there was no other help for our returning heroes.
Through the ensuing years a Second World War and the Korean War there was no shortage of service work on behalf of veterans but it was only a matter of time until we reached out to serve the community at large. In the past 10 years Branch 51 has donated $17,000 a year to the community plus donations from poppy funds and our ladies auxiliary.
A story about the Legion without prominent mention of our Ladies Auxiliary would be remiss; it is the ladies who prepare and serve the delicious dinners at all our social events.
In addition, the ladies have bake sales, fashion shows and craft shows to raise money that is returned to the Legion in millions of dollars annually. Then in their spare time the ladies hold euchre games and help at bingo, it is hard to find an activity at the Legion that they are not involved in. The ladies also offer student bursaries and scholarships from secondary school to university level as well as school of nursing and schools for the handicapped.
The Royal Canadian Legion community assistance goes to many diverse groups but perhaps our favourite has been the youth of our community. We are the major supporter of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Sea, Army and Air Cadets, as well support is given to YWCA Children’s Camp and Summer Playground, N.F. Summer Playground, Boys and Girls Club, Pee Wee Baseball and Hockey. The second most favoured recipient is our local hospital beginning in the 50s with an ice machine and continuing through the years with cash donations of $25,000 over a five-year period. Branch 51 has donated for such equipment as pre-natal monitors, endoscopy, cat scan, birthday beds and recently we furnished a palliative care room at GNGH.
Branch 51 is proud of our contribution to our country and our community we are not financed by any level of government and in fact have turned down the offer of financial assistance from government. We urge anyone that would like the pleasure of helping their community to consider Legion membership, the Legion have the facilities and structures that enable a member to make a difference in your community and your country.

I am sorry to say that I was unable to date this piece, but can tell you at the time of its writing the Legion was located on Valleyway. This was the only location I remember. I am also sorry to say that the building on Valleyway was sold. My Dad became a member in Port Dalhousie for his remaining years. However, there are still lots of healthy, thriving Legion Branches in the cities we all live in now. Like my Dad, I would encourage you to consider Legion membership and the opportunity to make a difference in your community.

Thank you Dad… for everything. I will remember.



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Dad ended his battle with cancer on Wednesday March 30th, 2011. Surrounded by friends and loved ones.

William (Bill) Duncan Gillies

The following  arrangements have been made:

Visitation:

Date: Sunday April 3rd

Time: 2 – 4 pm & 7 – 9 pm

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614


Funeral Service:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: 11:00 am

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614

Map:


Burial:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following the Funeral Service

Location: Fairview Cemetery

Address: Stanley Ave & Morrisnon St.,  Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8

Map:


Reception:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following Burial

Location: St. Andrew’s United Church, Auditorium

Address: 5645 Morrison St., Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8

Phone: 905.356.1624

Map:

St. Andrew’s United Church

Please feel free to leave us a message here or to sign the guest book at

Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel






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