Remembering…

September 11, 2001  

As the first news bulletin flashed, the world drew a collective gasp of disbelief. We were transfixed by the devastation that played itself out in real time horror before our astonished eyes on television. Phones rang endlessly; word spread like wildfire; tears coursed down millions of cheeks everywhere; hearts broke and shattered; nerves frayed; prayers were on the lips of all who ever loved someone; fears were realized by politicians and citizens alike and bravery became the word of the day, the week, the month, the year; indeed, the decade.

Sirens wailed; screams of pain and anguish tore at our hearts. Thousands died this horrific day while we watched and almost immediately millions of heros were born! Ordinary people transformed into superstars. Fireflighters, law enforcement people, doctors, nurses, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, fellow workers, and complete strangers joined together and worked until they dropped. Time had been stolen from us; lives torn away from this world in a flash; too many  sons and daughters died out there and so nations world-wide knew a resolve rarely matched before to pull together and fight the battle brought to our shores this day ten years before!

It was hatred and ugliness that brought this terror into our lives.

But, as Christians and  in all of this, we lift up our eyes to the Lord from whom comes our strength. For without Him, we have nothing!

We shall never forget!                          Helen Medeiros

                        

Beaches

A trip down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without a day or two at the beach…or a beach or two. Having been raised on the seacoast of Nova Scotia, we were all about beaching it in the summers as kids and teens. So today we took a lovely figurative stroll along some of the beaches of my youth.  Leaving town, we drove past Arisag, Malignant Cove and then We went right around Cape George, often referred to as a Mini Cabot Trail. The vistas were breathtaking; the breeze held a promise of the coming winter months. One could almost feel the ice forming not so far offshore in preparation for the winter freeze. We drew in the lovely salty air and watched the wonderful pounding surf along the craggy coast.

Ballantyne’s Cove is a delightful little fishing settlement that might not have changed much in the last hundred years. A few fishermen worked in their boats at the pier and were more than happy to pass the time of day with us. Expecting to chat with  Maritimers, we were quite surprised to hear the thick accent of New Zealanders. A long way from home and yet, fisherman just like any others we have met along our coastal travels. Looking down into their well equipped fishing crafts, I hid a smile when I recognized a large “Wheel” Pizza box over to one side. That brought me right back into at least the last 40 years if not necessarily 2011. The Wheel has been around Antigonish since I was a kid and the Pizza there is known at least nationally if not world-wide.

We then stopped at a quaint little place called “Fish and Ships” for a quick bite to eat and continued our afternoon drive along the coast. Every once in a while I would instruct my husband to stop so that I could whip ,out my camera to capture the scene set so perfectly before me.  We hardly encountered another car along the way and chatted happily with our specially chosen tour guide, my lifelong friend and classmate, Barb MacG. Although she too had not lived in Antigonish for most of the last 40 years, her family had never left the area so she is a gem of information on the locals who dwell in these charming homes dotted here and there along the way.

The highlight of our afternoon was a visit to her two lovely Aunts at their summer cottage. And even more to my delight was the discovery that the cottage sits overlooking my favourite beach from my childhood. We always called it Grandpa’s Beach because my great grandparents did indeed own all the land surrounding the beach. There was an old farmhouse there when we were children and no driveable road to the actual beach but every summer, we spent countless days there exploring and wandering down to the cool crisp ocean to swim and play. We often set up tents there having the whole place to ourselves and I remember making fires on the beach to roast hot dogs and boil up fresh corn over the fire. Other beaches we covered in the last few days are different from I was a child; harsh winter storms have changed the topography somewhat but it was great to see. Some anew Mahoney’s Beach, Crystal Cliffs, Jimtown, Cribbons. This delightful little University town also boasts many more beaches close by. Before we haul up stakes here and head on to a new destination, I hope to visit Monk’s head, Pomquet Beach and perhaps Bayfield.
Who would have thought I’d have moved and settled in a tropical island to raise my own children. We certainly have the taste of the sea in our blood.

On the way home, we drove through several new neighborhood developments skirting the town. These home owners took full advantage of the Spring and Summer months by planting and maintaining lovely lush gardens. On a sadder note, I can see that many of the beautiful old homes of my youth  have been made into apartments for students or as in my own family home, sold and redeveloped with a rather unsightly storefront replacing the once grand old front porch.
But time does march on. Who knows what folk will see here in another 40 plus years?

Sisterhood of the Travelling Caps

Forty one years ago, we walked away from a tight-knit sisterhood into the big scary world.  There were more than six of us; but for this one night, we are the SIX who might have never been. We each came from different walks and varying places on the North Eastern Seaboard to leave our childhood behind, to begin a new adventure and to become the closest friends we would perhaps ever know. This day looking back, I realize we were indeed more than old friends; we had become a sisterhood of the travelling caps; nurses’ caps, that is. (Of course I take poetic licence here and because it is my blog I do so without reservations.)

Having travelled over a thousand miles to come back to the town of our ‘rebirth’, so to speak, I was anxious to see my nurse-sisters again.  Emma Lee, the eternal hostess gathered us together at her daughter’s cottage on the beach for a reunion extraordinaire. There was food galore, drinks flowing, laughter abounding, culminating in a bon fire sing-a-long on the beach. Tales from our infamous past were shared with more vigor than may have been expected from these lovely 60 plus year old nurses; good news of family entertained us all well into the evening; hard luck stories were touched upon; and the ever lasting dreams and hopes of the future were spilled from willing lips. We bonded again this weekend like we always do whenever we have a chance to meet. Though there were only 6 of us old nurses from the Class of ’70  assembled, our thoughts and stories included all who shared those special formative years from 1967 to 1970 at St. Martha’s Hospital School of Nursing in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

With the exception of Emma and  Barb whose husband is working in the USA just now, we were also blessed to have our loving supportive husbands with us. Believe me, they celebrate our friendship and sisterhood almost as much as we do. They have always known the special bond we share. Even though 2 of us did not use our Nursing Skills for many years, we still always will be Nurses! Nurses, wives, mothers, grandmothers but always Nurses first. Well, that is how I feel today looking back. In honestly I will admit that the order of importance changes depending the situation. 🙂

Nonetheless we are able to laugh longer and harder than I am quite sure anyone else who walks this planet. We have loved and shared and enjoyed and cried and ached deeper than can be described. We have forgiven, been forgiven, cherished, dreamed and expected bigger and better things than we did even one year ago. We are alive and well. We are thankful and humble. We are stronger and more steadfast in our faith. We are the Class of 1970!

We are the Sisterhood of the Travelling Nurses’ Caps!

You CAN Go Home Again…

Some of us grow up and move to a nearby town; some move to the big city; others move across the country but some of us move to a new country and emerge ourselves into a new culture. That is what I did. In 1970, having just graduated from St. Martha’s Hospital School of Nursing ( not even a mile from where I grew up), I moved to a small sub tropical island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Bermuda. Oh my life changed in so many ways that it’s hard to describe but I shall touch on it briefly. I became an adult a few months previous to my move; I became a professional, a registered nurse; I became a wife; and I became part of a new world. Not only was I, a small town Canadian girl living in a different nation, I became a part of a Portuguese family. Whoa! Change can be exciting and change can be hard. But I was in love and I was ready to take on any and all new adventures. Looking back now, I marvel at my bravery because I left all I had known and moved away. I left my parents and ten brothers and sisters in a time when we had no internet, computers, skype, cell phones and expensive long distance phone calls were a luxury. In other words, I cut the cord and became someone new.

But I am here today to say that even after 40 years, you can go back home. Oh I don’t mean I have moved back and likely I never will, because, you see, I am now a Bermudian. I shall never abandon my Canadian roots and I still proudly travel on my Canadian passport but remember, my loving husband,  children and grandchildren are all Bermudians and my home is there but this summer I am vacationing in my childhood hometown for an extended visit. That is to say, I feel with this visit, I have come home again. Actually none of my immediate family live here anymore but I still walk about this lovely town and feel at home. Most of the people I pass in the street, contrary to 40 years ago, are complete strangers to me, but from time to time, I catch someone’s eye and I wonder if they too see some sort of familiarity in me as I do them. To perhaps meet up with old classmates or neighbors is something that makes me search faces…and I find it amusing that now I look to grey and white-haired folks to find these people. (One knows that the Senior years loom large when those are the faces one studies.)

What a lovely town Antigonish is. I want to reach out and tell everyone what a treasure they have in living here. I want the young people to cherish the sweetness of walking these pathways. I want to remind them to enjoy these delightful summer days and lovely long evenings around a camp fire or sitting on a neighbor’s porch. I love the “down east” accent and feel a warmth as I listen to the musical lilt.

The hospitality of these folk is not to be easily matched anywhere.

I realize that I have chosen my homecoming  at the perfect time of year and I am sure, were I asked to endure the long winter months, I would flee back to my warm island home before the first Snow Plows could clear Main Street.

Verdant farmlands stretch out from the town limits and we make our way along  the highway to the rugged coast line to walk again down memory lane at some of my childhood haunts. Although Bermuda beaches are rated near the top of the scales world wide,  I still have a deep love for the cold dark blue waters of the northeast coastlines. I recall many summer days with my family as we swam in the frigid sea and then trudged out to warm ourselves up on the  hot sandy shores. We picniced on riverbanks and played endlessly along quiet country trails.

Tomorrow we are invited to Mahoney’s Beach to a dear friend’s cottage for a barbeque and a bon fire. I expect the evening to be cool, very unlike Bermuda summer nights but I know the festive gathering and wonderful memories it will stir up, will keep me snug and warm.

YES, you can go home again and I am blessed to be doing just that!

Play Time at the Campground

The excitement is building; newbies are arriving in droves and we sit back and take it all in.

This is the last long weekend of summer and the campground is bustling. Tents, Pop-Ups, Fifth-Wheels, and Motorhomes are coming through the gates to take in the last long days of the season. I would estimate that the campground population has almost doubled for these few days. One of my favourite pastimes is sitting outside our RV watching the children. They astound me; they amaze me; they totally entertain me.  They are all sizes and ages but most important, they are all energetic. This encourages me and reminds me of my youth. They are on bicycles (as was I almost daily, I recall) but therein the similarity stops. I see 4 year olds on little motorized scooters alongside friends on roller blades. There are skateboards and I can see several little ones down at the shallow river searching for frogs. They have more gadgets and updated playthings than I know how to describe. Now I ought to be totally up to date with modern toys and such since I am a Grandmother to 7 and Step-Grandmommy to 3 more. Yet, I do not see this in Bermuda. We don’t have campgrounds as such.  We do  keep our little ones busy enough but it is more likely to be boating, water skiing or just swimming in the pool. As I mostly see it, at home, we drive our kids to have playdates at friend’s places or to a soccer field etc. In fairness Bermuda children do play cricket, soccer and an assortment of other outdoor games including the all time popular hula hooping and jump roping. Afterall, we have excellent weather most of the time.  My grandchildren have become proficient in catching lizards or the such but to see the little ones here in a safe and community environment makes my heart glad. They are out and about constantly as soon as breakfast is consumed…Maybe, just maybe these little ones will not grow obese in later years. Dare I hope for this? Not once have I seen a child with a DS game system or seen them gathered around a television set. I like to watch them sitting on the pathways drawing figures with sidewalk chalk and generally doing what children ought to do……play outside in the sunshine.

As I sit and take it all in, it makes me want to transport for one summer my darling grandchildren to this environment. I am being nostalgic, I know, because surely my youth was far superior to theirs but then……..one day they will be sitting here remembering the good ole’ days when a DS and PlayStation was the exciting play things from their past.