A fitting spot to grow old
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.