April 25th; my birthday. I opened my eyes to my 65th year of living a wonderful life. Lying in bed, not yet stirring, I looked out through my fifth storey window; the reward and magic of my life was apparent in the things I saw. Below me, bordering the river, barren trees stood waiting for that first brush of warm weather, protecting their leafy buds until completely sure that winter’s frosty hand had been withdrawn. Above, a flock of gulls soared majestically, riding the thermal currents formed from newly heated patches of dark earth uncovered by the receding ice and snow. In between, dark and dusty buildings awoke and stretched, unburdened by the many months of cold, and ice, and snow; elements that would have killed any entity more human than they, over the same period of time. And stretch they did, turning lifelike before my eyes. One resembled a dog, no, was a dog, rising and stretching from his sleep on a soft white pillow.
I lifted my head and shoulders to get a better view. The dog fell back to the ground, disappearing from view. I tried to swing my legs over the side of the bed, tried to get up to get a better view, to see where the dog had disappeared. I sensed that something was holding me back as I watched the landscape move, swirl and undulate outside my window. Frozen in place, I pulled back the sheets to see if my legs had left me in the night, for their feeling wasn’t there. In that moment of time, and from my hospital bed, I’d forgotten that I was totally paralyzed from the waist down and I realized that these first morning visions were actually hallucinations, appearing as a complication of my bewildering illness.
Ah, my illness. The details many know and are not worth taking up space in this tome; but in brief to those who missed that act of the play, on March 26th, 2015 I was struck ill while on vacation in Florida, briefly admitted to a local hospital there, flew back quickly to Canada, and was admitted to hospital the very next morning. Ah, the cause. I think it was a rotten hot-dog; consumed with a bad tasting beer at the Boston Red Soxs game earlier that month. The doctors think a virus was to blame. Regardless, the bacteria or virus invaded and inflamed my brain and spinal cord, cutting off messages to my lower extremities and sending false signals to my brain. Signals that saw gulls that weren’t there, a dog that was just bricks and mortar and the impossible motion of inanimate things. And paralysis!
As you well know, I did recover. Whatever the cause was never found, no medications were administered and although slow, my recovery is progressing still as I approach the first anniversary of this strange affliction. If any reader thinks they may know what I had, please refrain from telling me your suspicions. I’ve been prodded and scanned by the best doctors and modern medical machines, tested for listeriosis, multiple sclerosis and other things I haven’t got the time or energy to look up the spelling for; they even tested me for rabies!! Nada. All that to say, I coulda’ died. Why I didn’t I’ll never know, the death would have been just as bizarre and probably as unexplainable as the illness. Still, by fate, I transitioned back into my former life.
Being in the hospital for 2 ½ months, I had time to think of my life. Recounting stories of the things I did, of the people I met, of the opportunities I was presented, and those that I took advantage of; successful mostly for the mix of fate and circumstance that many times intervened. Nothing in my life was predictable; only the outcome is explainable. Expanding this revelation, I looked back on my ancestry and found many gaps in my knowledge and understanding of where I came from and an explanation of why I was who I was and why I turned out like I did. Puzzles for us all to ponder, but where do the answers come from. I have anecdotes galore, many parts of a genealogy (weighted on my father’s line), a rich history in partnership with Terry, my wife and of course, tales from my career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Things you need to know before I go!
Billy Graham once said that “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” Now, Billy Graham was a religious man, and I can’t report any sustained adherence to religious faith, but I do believe that it is time to chronicle what I do know of our ancestral past and reminisce on the years you have been part of our lives. While it is my chronicle, its authenticity will be challenged by your mother and edited by my wife, the same person by the way; my first revelation, if you were ever in doubt, that in you are both wholly and entirely of our joint creation.
This chronology will not be chronological. Rather, I plan to start with stories that perhaps are more easy to write and hopefully more pleasing to read. I’ve never written before; so not being sure where to start and unsure of where this will end, I have decided to start somewhere in the middle, and go from there. In each, I will try and assign a time frame; you can sort the details out, later.