A Boyhood Memory.

I usual post this story on St Valentines day, sorry a wee bit on the slow side these days.

A First Kiss Lost
By Frederick Rodgers.

It has often been said young love is the purest form of love. In 1951, Sheila and I at the tender age of thirteen would have agreed with those sentiments. We truly believed our love would last forever. We lived on a beautiful island nestled in the blue waters of the Solent. The English Channel lapped at the golden sandy beaches. The Isle of Wight was our home. We lived in the same row of houses facing the rolling Downs. Those green and lush hills were a high point of the island. They swept down almost to our doorsteps in the picturesque village of Brighstone. A tiny village made up of a few thatched cottages a tea garden, general store, church and primary school. Sheila and I had finished primary and now attended a Secondary Modern school in Freshwater.

Often we sat together on the bus taking us to and from school. Sundays we walked together to Sunday school and church. Occasionally on weekends if we had money we’d visit the local cinema in Newport. Many hours were spent walking hand in hand on the hills above the village. Sometimes stopping to shyly embrace and kiss, safe from the prying eyes of adults.

In summer we spent much of our time on the beaches. We cycled the narrow traffic free country lanes exploring hedgerows for bird nests and such. All was right with our world. We were happy, carefree and in love. I never imagined it was about to come to an abrupt and sudden end

The events that brought me to the island and Sheila began with my birth on the 15th January1939. I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland the sixth and last member of our family. I had two brothers and three sisters. When I was just eleven months old my mother died. The Second World War was just four months old. I was placed in the care of my eldest sister Lily and her husband Ben. He was serving in the Royal Navy. Over the next few years we traveled across England attempting to be near his homeport.

My early childhood was as normal as could be expected living in a world at war. However, with the end of war we continued to move frequently as Ben looked for a work. That was how in 1949 I arrived on the Isle of Wight. I first met Sheila when I started at the local primary school. We became good friends almost at once. When in school or outside playing life was good and I was happy. Unfortunately the same could not be said about my life at home.

Constantly moving and changing schools was having a detrimental effect on my life. I was becoming obsessed with a desire to return home to my family in Ireland.
The situation between Lily and I was not going well. She was losing control as I openly resisted her authority. I was completely unaware of the change about to take place.
To my utter surprise early one Sunday morning in August my father and brother arrived to take me home. It was a flying visit forcing me to make a quick decision. Should I stay or go? With little time to think I was packed and bundled into the back seat of an old Morris. We said brief good byes amidst hugs and tears then I was on my way. Alone in the back seat of the car I slowly collected my thoughts. I felt my heart break as I came to the realization I hadn’t said goodbye to Sheila. Now it was too late and there was nothing I could do. My heart ached as each mile carried me further away. I had lost Sheila forever.

Nine years would pass before I’d see her again. I returned to Brighstone one Saturday afternoon in 1960. At the time I was stationed in Portsmouth on the submarine HMS Amphion. Outside the dockyard gate and adjacent to HMS Victory is an area known as ‘The Hard’. It is where the main London train-line ends and the Isle of Wight ferry begins. Walking through the gate I stood in bright sunshine gazing across the Solent to the island. A compelling urge moved me forward toward the ferry terminal. Outwardly unconscious of why, I found myself buying a ticket and boarding the ferry. Deep within I was harbouring a hope of seeing Sheila again. On the ferry and later riding the bus across the island I lost myself in memories of my school days. When I stepped off the bus in Brighstone a sudden wave of nostalgia swept over me.

I stood motionless for what seemed an eternity uncertain what to do next. I look up and then down the road at familiar sights hoping to spot a friendly face. It was the height of the tourist season yet the village seemed empty. Nothing had changed, I recognized the
places where I’d spent so much of my boyhood. The old church and primary school stood in solemn silence. I was re-visiting my past yet somehow I was a stranger. I had given little thought to why I had come back. Perhaps I expected to see my school chums laughing and waving as they rode their bikes to the beach

Making an effort to shake off a growing depression I turned and began walking toward the Wilberforce Hall. Passing Coopers general store I was stopped dead in my tracks. Sheila was coming out of the store carrying a shopping bag. She had grown into a beautiful young woman who I recognized instantly. For a moment we stood in stunned silence staring at each other. A smile slowly spread across her face as she realized who I was. I wanted to rush up and take her in my arms but hesitated because of the shopping bag.

Wonderful memories flood my mind as I stood smiling in awkward embarrassment. Then in the same instant we both burst forth with a thousand questions.
I stopped and allowed Sheila to go first. “What have you been doing since you left the island? Are you married? When did you join the navy? Where are Lily Ben and Roy? Oh it really is so good to see you again. Are you still living in Ireland? Do you remember Julie? She is engaged and getting married next month. Is Roy still in school? Jean left last year and is working in Newport. I bet you wouldn’t hardly recognize her now she is all grown up”.

Finally Sheila paused to catch her breath while I explained my adventures over the last nine years. Then it was my turn to ask questions.

Sheila had left school a few years ago but couldn’t find a decent job on the island. She decided to go to the mainland and join the WRNS. Whilst she was in the women’s naval service she met a nice boy and they had married three months ago. The possibility she might be married had never entered my head. The news shattered all feelings of elation our brief reunion had earlier kindled.

I immediately felt a depression creeping back into my mood. I was bemused and hurt. I struggled to reconcile my awful disappointment. Was I perhaps in love with Sheila after all? I didn’t know for sure. I had been so very happy to see her again. Now all I was sure of was a terrible empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Visiting Brighstone had lost its appeal and was replaced with an urgent need to leave. My emotions were running wild, confusion, sadness and a dreadful feeling of loss.

My emotions no longer mattered Sheila was married nothing could change that. Lost in my own misery I almost missed hearing Sheila invite me to stay over. There was a dance that evening at the village hall. Sheila and her husband were going. I could probably go with her younger sister Jean if I wanted to. I declined using the excuse I was on duty the following day. Sheila didn’t press the matter and we walked to the end of the lane making small talk. Stopping at her front gate we stood for a moment in another awkward silence. Finally Sheila said she had to go. I made no attempt to kiss or hug her. With one last wave she disappeared into the house. A surge of pain pierced my heart. I remained standing there unable or unwilling to move. Was I perhaps hoping she would re-appear?
I thought of the many times we’d stood on this exact spot holding hands, smiling, making promises and shyly kissing.

With an enormous effort I turned and began walking back toward the village. With each step carrying me further away came the realization I’d seen Sheila for the last time. I was engulfed in a terrible sadness. There had been a time, now long passed, when she’d been my sweetheart. A sweet and beautiful young girl who I’d loved and shared a first kiss. On that unhappy Saturday afternoon I had attempted to re-live the past and failed. Life was cruel yet nothing could be changed. I had to move on. Waiting at the bus stop I gazed at the thatched cottages, the village church and school. Everything remained unchanged and familiar. Yet nothing looked the same in that moment before the bus arrived. Maybe I was trying to relive my boyhood. Yet it was all just a memory? Children change, grow up, move on and sometimes marry.

Since that day I have often reflected on those wonderful and extraordinary times. In those days we were carefree and happy playing on the beaches or in the schoolyard. We shyly winked and made eyes at girls. The world was a very different place in1951. We were naïve and innocent, there was no magazines, television or cinema to corrupt our minds. In the many years that have passed since then I still retain those wondrous memories.
The day our lips touched in that first warm and wonderful kiss. Always, I return to the question. What if?
The End

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Legion Comparison

I don’t intend this as a complaint, but more moment of disappointment. After the health dept turned down coverage of my chemotherapy I approached the Royal Canadian Legion for help. They immediately facilitated sending my Royal Naval records to England. Within a few days I received the good news . The Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Benevolent Trust had forwarded $10131.00 toward the cost of treatment, this was a large and generous support. In the meantime my two daughters started a gofundme campaign. The Royal CanadianLegion said Dominion Command and Provicial Command would each provide a $1000. However they later withdrew this support citing the fact I had funds coming in from the gofundme campaign. I was rather surprised by this decision, I’m not greedy and just grabbing money that I may not require. What bothers me is the RCL couldnt know how successful the fund raise was. It seemed reasonable to me that a legion representative would first visit me at home to access my needs. I have been seriously ill for 14 months, I have had numerous expenses with Meds tests insulin’s and travel, 5000 Kim’s in last 14 months. I required the purchase of a wheel chair, stair lift, shower seat along with safety handles and other modifications. Depending on my progress I may need a wheel chair ramp and possibly other needs in the future. However, what upsets me is the lack of response from Provincial Command or my local branch. In all the time I have been ill I have not received a phone call, visit or even a get well card. I served some thirty years with RCL serving on many executive positions including Poppy Chairman. I have pounded the pavement promoting the Poppy campaigns. I served 12 years CF reserve and 11.Royal Navy.. I freely admit I have been very critical of Provincial and local branch policies. Nevertheless, I have a right to my views and believe I should have the right to expect some form of legion support. This rather negates the RCL claim of being there for veterans?? God Bless and keep reading

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Count down has begun

I suppose I have been counting down the days for sometime now. However, it seems more real as I close in on treatment day. That is Tuesday 13th February 2018. Just hours away. I was going to say I’m getting excited but that’s probably not the best way to describe my impending feelings. More a sense of anticipation a need to hope this will ease my concerns and suffering. Well in about 36 hours my hope and prayers begin for real. I enter the chemo treatment centre at 8.30 am on Tuesday morning. It’s a approximately seven hour procedure and hopefully with only minor side effects, don’t mind if my hair becomes more curly lol.wish me luck as I go on my way, theme of an old song ringing in my head! In good spirits and ready to face the future. God Bless and keep reading

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Outpouring of Gratitude.

I m suffering from a very rare and nasty disease (primary autoimmune hemolytic anemia) there is no known cure or cause. My Doctor recommended treatments of chemotherapy to hopefully force it into remission. That was when my problems began, the PEI dept of health denied coverage for this expensive treatment. Costs vary from $17000 $20.000 certainly more than I could afford on my pension. I immedialely applied through the Royal Canadian Legion who in turn passed my naval records on to the UK. With in a matter of days the.Royal British Legion and the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust provided approximately $10.000 in aid. I was so pleasantly surprised and even more grateful. My eleven years service had been immediately recognized and responded too. Knowing help was at hand made a huge difference in my life. However to date nothing forthcoming from Royal Canadian Legion.? I have served 12 years RCNR have been a RCL member for some thirty years filling most executive positions including chairman of the branch Poppy fund. However it’s early days so I will wait and see. So far no local member has visited no fruit basket and no get well card nor phone call.???  

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A Little Sunday Humour

The best story of the year doesn’t give the proper praise and credit for this painful but understandable story as told by a loving wife…….

The pastor asked if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayers. Suzie Smith stood and walked to the podium. She said, “I have a praise. Two months ago, my husband, Tom, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn’t know if they could help him.” You could hear a muffled gasp from the men in the congregation as they imagine the pain that poor Tom must have experienced. “Tom was unable to hold me or the children,” she went on, “and every move caused him terrible pain.” We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Tom’s scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place.”
Again, the men in the congregation cringed and squirm uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible surgery performed on Tom.
“Now,” she announced in a quivering voice, “thank the Lord, Tom is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely.”
All the men sighed with unified relief. The pastor rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had something to say.
A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium.
He said, “I’m Tom Smith.” The entire congregation held its breath.
“I just want to tell my wife the word is sternum.”

God Bless and keep reading

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Wade the Straight Man!!!!!!

I truly believe Wade MacLauchlan has chosen the wrong career. Instead of politician he should be a standup comedian. I haven’t enjoyed such a good laugh in years. Funny man Wade stated that MLA Bush Dumville was for years struggling with Liberal values of honesty and transparency. Honesty and Transparency! Gee, trying to get myself under control here, can’t help my sudden out bursts of laughter while trying to write this letter. What comes to mind is this old adage (Laugh and the World will laugh
with you). Although in this case it should be the island laughing. Wade you are surely hilariously joking, liberal values, Stop it Wade!!!  I just can’t stop laughing and it’s hurting!!

God Bless and keep reading

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No Legion Co-ordination on Policy between Branches

I thought I’d post this very interesting article on the wearing of Sikh headdress in legions. I too thought this issue had been done and dusty in the 1980’s. However, I saw the video from the event at the Tignish legion branch. I have to say the customers in attendance probably have never heard of legion by-laws, or indeed read the legion hand book. Its a long article and can be accessed at the link below, its a very interesting read.

I thought the Sikh headdress was covered YEARS ago Here is a Sikh Veteran photo with REAL Medals Probably more than the Tignish Fools



Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 9, 2017. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

c. Legion Dress – Headdress. It is not normal practice for headdress to be worn indoors with the exception of the Sergeant-at-Arms, Colour Bearer(s), members of the Ladies Auxiliary, by members whose religious doctrine or customs require that the head be covered and by Officers presiding at official functions, such as Installations and may also include those who are being installed. Some units, Branches, Zones, Districts and Commands have developed a tradition to wear headdress during opening and closing ceremonies. Although unusual, such traditions are not discouraged by the Royal Canadian Legion. Where employed, these practices will be at the call of the Senior Officiating Officer


God Bless and keep reading

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I had no real idea what this actually was, much less did I know how to set up such a fund. My two loving daughters didn’t ask me they just didit. I was surprised but not upset .once they explained the purpose I was grateful for their help. Somehow I have to have the chemotherapy treatment and really had no idea how I was going to pay for it. The money has been flowing in from the first day and I’m amazed. Of course the money is the important goal, however, it is not what has opened my eyes to the amazing people that care. Besides donations we have received some of the most heartfelt comments of compassion and well wishes. So many of these people are friends of my daughters, I have never met them, yet here they are supporting me. Allow me to give you just one example. A young man from Alberta who knew Susannah when they were in college at Camrose sent $150 and when sSusannah thanked him he said this. He is a veteran and your dad, nothing more need be said. Can you image how difficult it is to write this blog, I’m having trouble seeing through my tears of gratitude. I cannot find words suitable to express how my everlasting gratitude and thanks can be expressed. My only lingering anger is our provincial government, that they could be so uncaring and cold. But that feeling is quickly crushed by the outpouring of human kindness I have received over this last weekend. May God Bless each and every one of you, my faith has been restored beyond all measure

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Liberal spin doctors on the job

In yesterday’s newspaper article in the last front page paragraph a health and wellness spokesperson stated this drug is not approved by Health Canada for this disease. However, this raises two pertinent questions? My doctor first recommended this drug in October 2017 for use in treating me and it was turned down by the government Phamacy Consulant. He stated he had received multiple request for treating this disease and all had been denied. I have to wonder why he did not say it wasn’t approved by Health Canada then? Did he not know then or indeed more recently this January 2018 when he again denied the treatment . Second point I raise is the fact this drug is used to treat this disease in our neighbouring province of New Brunswick also in Newfoundland and a couple of Western provinces. When a reporter begins to inquire we are suddenly informed it’s not approved. It’s interesting to note, reporters/journalists only get to speak with a media person in these inquiries, never get to talk with the people making the decisions. The media spokesperson also does not explain that many drugs not approved for some illnesses are still often used at the doctors discretion if they believe it may benefit a patient. The spin is designed to give the impression Health and Wellness are only protecting the patient, can’t allow unapproved drugs to be used on the unsuspecting victim. This is pure distortion of the facts, pure spin in order to look like they are correct and I’m  the innocent and unsuspecting victim. It’s so disgusting the lengths this liberal government will go to to deny a needed health care. They waste millions on gaming schemes and such but fight me tooth and nail to save a buck.Well they can stop now, they win, I’m too ill,exhausted and

stressed to fight anymore. Your spin doctors can go back into the woodwork.  God Bless and keep reading

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An Amazing and Powerful Guest Blog from my Daughter Susannah.

When I was in junior high, I remember learning about Sufragettes…these brave, intelligent women who stood up to popular belief and put lives on the line to vote. For whatever reason, that courage imparted on me the value of my voice, as small as it may seem sometimes, to the individuals who step forward to become decision makers in my world. Because of them, I have never missed a vote.

I voted with Quebec during the referendum in the 90s while living in Alberta…I voted against parties, for people, federally to protect myself from those who would remove my human rights, and municipally for those who listened to me personally. I always vote. I chafed for an American people who assumed their vote didn’t count, who didn’t use their small voice, and who are now stuck with a living caricature as a president. I believe in my little voice and that little X as a powerful tool and thus I exercise it. Rightly or wrongly, I believe in the democratic process.
I work with kids. I am a lead worker at a group home for children in care. They come to me and my team when they are removed and we have an emergency and temporary purpose. Consequently, our youth are removed and transitioned around by people high up with the authority to make decisions. Many of them are wonderful and compassionate leaders who know the work we do on the front line. But they answer to a different “god”. They answer to a spreadsheet, a budget, a document of ink and color that can never represent a child who was abused, abandoned or left with nightmares and fears that are to many of us incomprehensible. They reduce a child who cried on my shoulder on shift to an ID or code on a sheet of paper that is paramount in a budgetary decision rather than a human decision.
I pity the leaders who make choices that impact human lives who know the impact of what they do. I personally could not use paper and numbers to decide about people and their fate. It would hurt my heart. I know it is fraught with pitfalls and challenges. But that is why you must do it with compassion.
My father is an exceptional man. He is a veteran and has shown courage you and I watch in movies and read in books…his books if you are curious! He is a humanitarian and actively sought to change the attitudes of violence in his home country of Northern Ireland. He is a feminist who pushed hard for girls in PEI to play soccer, creating a culture of female soccer at the grassroots level. Everyone who has ever played against my big sister probably hates him for that, but I helped many an opponent by being her polar opposite in skill and mercifully playing fullback to help with the other teams goals for stats. My dad is an author, a blogger, and a community minded man. He volunteered in schools with the LOVE program, delivered meals on wheels, and spent years working on causes where someone needed a voice. He transferred his adoloescent courage in the Royal Navy into the courage needed to be the voice of someone who couldn’t speak for themselves. He raised two daughters with more love than you could imagine and turned us into powerful, courageous and loving women who know no equal and stand strong in beliefs. He also once helped his father in law deliver a calf and kissed the blarney stone. He hasn’t missed much.
But right now he needs a voice. He needs to not be a number on a budget sheet. He needs to be the one receving the compassion and courage he has shown and taught. The PEI health department claims this drug won’t help him, that his doctor, a leading hemotologist, is not correct, and that they do not need to spend the resources to save his life. His doctor recommends it as a 70% effective solution. If he were well enough to travel he could be treated in a neighbouring province. But his own government sees only the number and not the person in need. They don’t see the veteran, the father, the husband, the man. They see a budget line.
He isn’t a number. He isn’t a drain on your resources. He doesn’t need as much for the treatment as has been spent on his health waiting for it. He needs four treatments that will let him continue this life of his. A life unmatched and immeasurable on a budget spreadsheet.

Thank you Susannah  God Bless and keep reading

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