This morning, while working in my studio, I was listening to the CBC coverage of Remembrance Day. For some reason, I’m not quite sure why, it affected me more strongly this year. I started thinking about my Uncle Harold who fought in China during World War II. Whatever happened to him over there, he came back a very shattered man. It was hard for him to settle into a peaceful life. He was very affectionate, a good uncle. I felt a lot of love from him.
But I was jealous of any affection he showed to my cousin Deedee in California. And he said he was jealous of my then boyfriend, Chuck. Often he would take me, with a friend or two, out to dinner to a steak house. He always treated me with respect. He gave me a royal blue Pringle cashmere sweater for my sixteenth birthday. He died shortly after that, of a heart attack. He was only thirty-seven. I wore the sweater until it dissolved.
We lived in Richmond, Virginia during the War. We were relocated because my dad worked for the government in Washington, D.C. and they wanted to decentralize in case of bombing. Every time my parents saw a soldier or sailor hitch-hiking, they would pick him up, give him a ride in the direction we were going. As children, we sang “Bell bottom trousers, coat of navy blue, she loved a sailor boy, and he loved her too.” It was a frightening time for a small child: I was afraid every time a large plane flew over; we lived near a small airport. I was looking forward to the end of the war and the end of the long lists of casualties on the radio. I thought the news broadcasts would be filled with music instead. But it seems, sadly, I was wrong.