Reflections of gratitude and remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day. On this day, we pay tribute to all of the courageous men and woman who have dedicated their lives to serve our country, especially those who lost their lives.

My Grandma’s first husband fought and died in WWII. While fighting in the Canadian Air Force, his plane was shot down.  He was presumed dead.

Why do I tell you this story? Because this year, I look at it from a completely different perspective.

I remember Grandma telling me how she always hoped that one day he would show up on her doorstep, alive and well.  As  a young widow and a mother, she had to wake up each morning to take care of her infant son wondering if her husband would ever be found.

They never did find the body. And obviously, he never appeared on that doorstep except in her dreams.

This year, I understand grief on a deeper level. Although it was my baby I lost and not my husband, I have a new-found admiration for the strength that my Grandma had to find during her time of grief.

Her story also shows me that blessings can follow tragedy.

Fortunately, my Grandma went on to meet my Grandpa. They were married and had 3 more beautiful children together, including my Mother. My Grandpa adopted my oldest Uncle as his own son. Together, they lived a long life with 4 children, 2 daughter-in-laws, 1 son-in-law and 9 grandchildren.

If my Grandmother’s first husband did not lose his life fighting for our country, I would not be here.

I’m sure immediately following his death, my Grandma must have felt helpless, hopeless and lost. But, her life shows me that the hardships only help to propel us forward to face the rest of life challenges and appreciate the beauty of what we do receive.

I can only hope that my loss is overshadowed by a life even more filled with joy, happiness and prosperity as my own Grandmother’s.

On this Remembrance Day and all to follow, I will be especially grateful for Donald Walker. I never knew this man, but I know this lesson is just one of many his life will teach me.

Donald Walker RCAF Flying Officer, lost in action on October 26, 1944

Donald Walker, RCAF Flying Officer, lost in action on October 26, 1944

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