A fit­ting spot to grow old

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

If you look closely you can see the pointed ends of the col­lars are tat­tered and frayed, chewed by the high-strung lit­tle fel­low. It was some­thing that dis­tressed his mother but which he did un­con­sciously in times of emo­tional pres­sure. That hap­pened very lit­tle on the coast of this is­land. His asthma was bet­ter and there was al­most noth­ing to ir­ri­tate his al­ler­gies. The salt air was clean, the tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity were mod­er­ate. The peo­ple were calm and kind. He could breathe eas­ily in a way im­pos­si­ble in sum­mer­time Ot­tawa. All that is chang­ing now as air and wa­ter ev­ery­where get warmer and dirt­ier, and higher stress lev­els as­sail peo­ple no mat­ter where they live, but back then, his shirt col­lars took less of a beat­ing here than they did on the main­land.

Last week the man, no longer a boy in years, climbed the steep se­ries of slopes from Sal­vage har­bour, lead­ing to the old grave­yard hid­den among the trees, high on a hill over­look­ing Bon­av­ista Bay. In her will, the man’s mother, who, with his fa­ther, first brought the boy here, re­quested that her ashes be scat­tered in that grave­yard. The man’s brother and sis­ter had come from away, so we could all be to­gether, and with those dear­est to us, say good­bye to our mother. Though she trav­elled widely she chose this place to leave her mor­tal re­mains. It is a place which gave her en­ergy and joy. She loved it here. She loved the land and the sea and the peo­ple who live here. She loved her lit­tle white house cling­ing to the cliff­side above the har­bour, with its breath­tak­ing view of the is­lands in the bay.

Now her spirit is imbed­ded here for­ever. We will re­mem­ber her ev­ery time we pass along be­side the white picket fence that en­closes the ceme­tery. And thank her for in­tro­duc­ing us to this place and mak­ing us un­der­stand, and share, her love for it.

In a few days I will re­ceive a cheque from the fed­eral govern­ment. It will be the first in a se­ries of monthly pay­ments to me, my re­ward for con­tin­u­ing to breathe in and out. Once those cheques start to ar­rive, a new chap­ter be­gins. It will no longer be pos­si­ble for me to deny that I stand with both feet firmly planted on the thresh­old of geez­er­dom. Of all the places I have been, this one seems to me the most fit­ting spot to grow old. I am guess­ing that the lit­tle main­land boy in the flan­nel shirt with the frayed col­lars would agree with me.

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