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Remembrance Day {A visit to The McCrae Memorial}

I cannot possibly put into words how much I am forever indebted to the ones that serve our country. 
The ones who show bravery daily and those who have fought for the freedom we get to enjoy.
No grouping of words and verbs can begin to suggest the depth of my gratitude.
Which makes me look forward to Remembrance Day.
Every year, on Remembrance Day, our entire country pauses to remember.
In Canada, we wear poppies on our collars to remind us to remember those who have served and those who still do so today.
This action has meant so much to me ever since I was a little girl. 
Maybe it was because I was sensitive, or maybe it was because the whole essence of the “poppy wearing” was birthed from the small town I grew up in.
Whatever the case, today, on Remembrance Day, I packed my three hooligans into our vehicle and I told them I had a surprise to show them.
Their surprise wasn’t actually far from our house.
I have grown up in Guelph, Ontario, and so have my babies.
 So did military legend John McCrae.
The actual home he was born in, the one he grew up in, is just a ten minute drive from where we live today.  

That is even taking into account our driving time and the argument I had with our youngest to wear his hat before we stepped out the front door. 😉

So tonight, we arrived at his home, a now memorial site in the middle of our downtown area, just in the nick of time.
We raced the suns farewell and arrived at the John McCrae memorial right before the sky darkened over. 
#fallskies #timechange #doh
I knew I had to snap some pictures (with my mobile. Eek!) to share with you all and to show my undeniable city pride.
If you aren’t familiar with John McCrae, then here is a little bit about his legacy. 
He was a journalist and a physician to an important brigade in world war one. He penned “In Flanders Fields”, a beautiful tribute poem, while he was hanging out in the literal depths of despair. From a dirt filled dugout, with bombs and blasts echoing around him. From there, he put pen to paper and created the magic that revives lumps in throats world wide.
He saved lives, preformed surgeries on the battlefield, he was sensitive and outgoing and humbly returned to his home town where he was greeted as an amazing hero. 
(In layman’s terms, today, he would be debuting on The Bachelor and ladies world wide would be putting his poem to tune on their initial meeting in the courtyard of the “Bachelor Mansion”. Cause that is how amazing he was in his day.)
He was a “triple threat” before that term was imagined.
This year, my son read aloud the words that are inscribed in the cement memorial. The one that is situated in the heart of the town we have all grown up in.


 The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

I felt my eyes well with tears as my son’s eight year old voice filled the cold still air. 
In that moment, I could somehow picture Lt. McCrae, who was born on this property, who walked the same streets as us, saw the same view as us and who knew the same small town life as us. 
THEN, I pictured John McCrae sitting in the dirt with bombs going off, all around him, documenting with pen and paper, what could have been his last moments.
I pictured his mother pacing this front porch. 
I pictured wash lines in the back yard, swooping in the wind and leaning heavy, from tree to tree. 
I pictured her picturing him; in all his little boy might– skipping stones across the street on the Speed River and collecting pretty leaves to show her during the fall months, the months when she would have remembered him most, the fall months when he was born; added to her family, all those years ago.
My babies sat on that porch, that probably held so many worrisome nights and so many tearful reunions, and I could barely take a clear picture.  
Through the tear and the thoughts.
Oh how blessed we are.
Tonight I tucked my babies safely into bed. 
I kissed their heads and sang them songs, (and yelled at them when they were still awake an hour after I had tucked them in), and thanked God for every second of it. 
Tonight we read old memorial plaques as the sun went down and its light dissipated behind the houses and the dark rushing river. 
Together, we held hands and swung our arms as we walked back to the car, discussing life.
And then, we started a memorable conversation:
My daughter is sensitive like me, and she wondered aloud if John McCrae was still a Doctor– in Heaven. 
I immediately responded, “Yes, honey.”  
And then I pondered aloud,
“Actually, hunny, I don’t think he is anymore. Remember, people don’t get sick in Heaven. They don’t need Doctors up there.” 
I paused and with hands clenched, we all looked both ways and safely passed the street to our vehicle. 
“You know what, hun?” I started,
“I think that John McCrae, who worked so hard and fought so strong, I think he is up in Heaven, just relaxing and hanging out now..” 
I winked at her.
“I bet he is relaxing and chillaxing all cool and….probably diggin’ into a poutine too!” 
She chuckled in her sweet little way.
 “Besides, that’s what Mamma will be doing when I get to heaven!”
I squeezed her hand in my knowing way and she smiled up at me through the thick darkness.
Then, suddenly, my laugh was overcome by my son (her brothers) even reasoning. 
Him and his husky voice spoke above us all and said matter-of-factly.
“And Besides THAT, calories don’t even count in heaven!!”
“Say whaaaaaaa??????? “
I thought.

He cleared his voice and spoke up, above the nearby rushing water and his brothers annoyed whining about still “wearing a hat”…

 “..I heard, you can eat as MUCH Halloween candy and treats and “last snacks” as you WANT, and you don’t ever have to work it off. You can eat and eat and eat and eat….”
I looked at my boy who moments before had me tearing up with his poem reading and thought,
Eattttinnnng and NOT going to the gym? 

Yes Sir!!

It was just the comical relief we all needed at that moment.
 We piled back into the car with smiles spread across our faces as we pictured heaps of candy and treats waiting for us up there with the angels. I pictured candy mountains teetering high amidst all the ones we have loved and lost, and no belly aches in sight. 
That thought kept coaxing the corners of my mouth into a big smile for the rest of the night.
I am certain that children have the best perspective.

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