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AFTER THE PARADE essay

Story ID:1954
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2007
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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”Dear Dad,
Memories continue to circulate in my mind since your sudden death in Toronto April 26, 1999. You never thought you would make it to 80. But, you did in spite of a lung cancer operation in 1995. Love carried you that distance. It meant being married fifty-eight years to Mildred, having five children, twelve grandchildren and six super grandchildren.

You, Adelard Donat Provencher joined the RCAF as a Leading Aircraftman Can.R154453 February 12, 1942. You joined hundreds of thousands of young Canadians in a great cause. “I fought for your freedom,” you told me when I visited you in the hospital. I’m glad you survived another four years. It gave me a chance to get to know my father. I didn’t know much about you when I was growing up.

It was the same for a lot of kids whose fathers returned from the war. Forty World War 2 veterans settled in the veteran’s town site in Rouyn, Quebec. Since many men came back with so much hurting, all the children became one huge family.

After your release from Active Service September 21, 1945 mom said you were a changed man. It was many years before you were able to tell me a little about the horrors of war. You had been assigned to British Intelligence working with our Bomber squadrons, in London, England.

“Terrible memories,” you said filled your Thoughts, especially during the Blitz on London, where so many died. You said it was heartbreaking to see photo results from allied raids launched against the foe. Worrying about casualties on both sides must have torn you up inside.

In fact, after all the years I knew you dad, you hardly ever spoke about the war. Perhaps that’s why you had a hard time talking about feelings. You kept too much inside, like so many veterans who were more comfortable turning to the Canadian Legion for understanding.

I remember when you didn’t make it to the November 11 Remembrance ceremonies. You missed out on the parade, with old veterans marching to the beat of drums held by young military cadets. And you missed seeing the wreaths placed by dignitaries, surviving widows, and grey-haired vets.

Imagine, there was a two-minute wave of silence that year, from coast to coast. A recent poll indicated 87% of Canadians would observe November 11 ceremonies across this country. I decided not be one of them, since you were unable to participate.

I just wanted to sit in my living room in Truro, Nova Scotia. And think about you as I watched your smile from your picture hanging over the fireplace mantle. On November 11, 1999 there was only you and I in the room, father and oldest son. I wanted to spend some time alone with the father I love. And to remember-

Like the time you took me fishing when few had a fishing rod. We tied our 25 lb. test line to a rock held firmly under our foot. Then we flung the balance of the line along with a metal lure into the water, before pulling it back, hand over hand. Of course, my knot let go causing lure and line to travel to the center of the lake. I was eight and you weren’t even angry.

And about the time we went to Moose Bay Beach? You were so happy to see your family enjoying themselves. Sand, and sparkling water helped you forget three years and seven months away at war. The dog you got me, Prince, ate our pile of bologna sandwiches that day. And you laughed.

As a teenager I was so angry with you. I questioned your caring about our family when you often had to go away to find work. Mining names like Kerr-Addison, Chibougamou, Seven Islands and Malartic were places stretched throughout northern Ontario and Quebec. They kept you away from more picnics and fishing trips.

Love was a lifeline to us dad, through your paycheck. It kept your family going by paying the rent, and buying food and clothes. I found out much later when I grew up and became a man, how many sacrifices you made.

Mom even told me you were invited a couple of years ago to a supper in Toronto to receive a special award from the war. It was just like you dad, not even going, never one to brag. It was nothing you probably thought, simply doing your duty. Well, I disagree dad. You’re one special guy to me. You’re my dad and I love you so much. I know you’re here beside me, right now. And I know you’ll be with me, and my wife Esther next year, and the year after.

We’re going to place a wreath, next Remembrance Day, with your name on it. You’re our hero. And we miss you so much.
Love, from your son Dick.

PS.
Esther and I laid that wreath in your honor, dad. On Nov. 11, 2000 in Truro, Nova Scotia. It seemed like everyone in town was there. And my tears fell in the grass. When they evaporated, I am certain they met yours halfway.”

* * *

(c) Richard L. Provencher 2007

Richard & Esther Provencher invite you to read their first of three novels ‘FOOTPRINTS” now available from www.synergebooks.com. “Someone’s Son” and “Into The Fire” will also be available soon by the same company. These books were written during the first several years while Richard was recovering from his stroke, which felled him in 1999. He is still recovering.

The link to “FOOTPRINTS” is as follows: http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_footprints.html