When I was a "tween" I lived with my single mother in Brampton, not far from the local mall, the Bramalea City Centre. Often I would walk over and meet my Mum as she came of the bus from her day at work. I would sit on the edge of the coin fountain and wait, craning my head to watch for her familiar steps coming down the path. One day as I waited, there was a tap on my shoulder. "Dear, could you please help guide me to the bus?I am having some difficulty finding my way" An elderly woman, wearing dark glasses and a placid expression spoke to me. I detected a hint of a German type accent. "I'm not able to see well today. I need help to find my way, and my son is unable to meet me. Will you help?"
She smiled and put her hand out towards me, a gesture I matched by offering my arm for her to grasp. "Yes, of course" I mumbled shyly,and started our progress to the bus station. She walked with slow, tottering steps, her hand on my arm shaking slightly as we moved. I wasn't really used to old people at that time, and she scared me a little. She wore her age like a worn leather coat, comfortable and durable, but no longer pretty.
She spoke to me as we slowly moved along, but I remember little of what she said. I couldn't understand her completely, and don't think her words to me were meant to anything but keep me talking so she could be sure of where I was beside her.
When we reached the bus station I fetched an employee there to help the lady on to her correct bus when it arrived. I remember telling her this, and her nodding her recognition. "Thank you. I appreciate your time. I wish my eyesight was better and I could still move around freely as I once did. But I have lived through a great deal. Would you like something to remember me by?"
I quickly declined, imagining being offered a crusty old lady mint, sticky and hairy, from her pocket.
She, however, lifted her sleeve and showed me something very similar to this:
She peered at me, seeking my reaction. I had none appropriate, but so many whirling around in me. Sorrow, joy, hatred, fear,confusion, disgust, visceral feelings that made my tummy hurt right away and had me seeing things in my head that I had studied in text books, heard about in stories, seen on documentaries. Horror, was the emotion I settled on. She saw this, and approved.
"Don't ever forget" she said. And I haven't.
It's Remembrance day today. And no matter where you stand on war, politics and more, don't forget to stop and feel the range of emotions that the horrors of war bring to you. Feel each one deeply. Allow yourself to think the unthinkable, see the unseeable and survive the unlivable. Be horrified that anyone had to go through these things in order that we may have/be/live the lives of freedom that we enjoy and take for granted each and every day.
Lest We Forget - if we do, that would be the most horrific thing of all.
Find Your CORE.