I turned 6 years old in 1970.
Before that, though, my brother died of cancer. My father had got into the habit of driving to the city to see my brother in the hospital most every night after supper. He knew exactly one way to get into the city. He would sometimes take some of my brother's classmates with him in the car.
Note that I was awfully young when this happened. I am going from memory and I am not cruel enough to ask my mother to relive that day. She has enough on her plate. But my recollection is that my father was about ready to drive to the hospital again when the word of his death reached the house. The outpouring of grief is something I still remember.
I do not remember the funeral. That is because my younger sister and I did not go. That's the way things were done back then. I am pretty sure that a friend of the family kept us occupied while the rest of the family attended the service. Afterward, though, there were refreshments back at the family home. I remember the many people in the house, and being all but pushed into a corner of the living room, by the front door (it's the same place whose handle I fixed 2 days ago).
When I returned to school a few days later, during show and tell, I stood up and talked about my brother's death, how he was in a grave, how sad we were. That kind of thing. My Grade Primary teacher kept saying, "Oh, my goodness", over and over again. I can only imagine what was said in the school's staff room during the recess and lunch hour that day.
Many years later, my mother told me that, following my brother's death, that she had a choice either to spend the rest of her life in her bedroom or try to focus on the children who remained behind who needed her care and guidance and love. She managed to put aside, or control, her grief, and get on with life. Some people have interpreted that as being mean and unfriendly. I reject that, strongly. Anyone who feels that way about my mother, even a member of my family, clearly does not know her.
Summer came. My father thought it would be a good idea for Mom and the 3 remaining kids to go visit my maternal grand parents in New Brunswick. While there, I took ill. Mom took me to the doctor's. The doc kept saying, "It has to come out!", and I was scared to death. I had just lost a brother, and now I would be going under the knife. Turns out that my adenoids and tonsils were acting up, and would be excised.
Here's my fave picture of my maternal grandparents, taken sometime in the early 1970's:
We played with our cousins up there. You have to realize that, back in 1958, six years before I was born, my mother's siblings, and her parents, all pulled up stakes and moved out of province to Beaver Harbour, New Brunswick, in pursuit of work. My parents remained behind because they were already married with 2 children and Dad had work. One of my uncles even took his young wife with him. He remains friends, all these years later, with the father of a girl I went to high school with. The siblings eventually had children of their own, who became our first cousins, one of whom I saw at the housewarming party I attended 2 days ago.
Anyway, my older sister was closer friends with these cousins because they were closer in age than my younger sister and I were, and are. We would see each other from time to time. The last time I saw a bunch of them was at my father's funeral in 2010.
We returned home after the summer vacation. I had the surgery. When I awoke, there were my parents, staring back at me, relieved that I woke up at all (so was I, come to think of it). I still can't remember a happier sight than when I was six and had my operation. I would not have another surgery until 1997. The reason for that surgery will be revealed in a future post in this series.
September came. I began Grade One. My teacher was... Mrs. Smith? I am not sure. I know that my teachers in elementary school, until Grade 6, were all women. I thought that there was no such thing as a male teacher.
Christmas came. It was our first holidays without my brother.
1970 came to a close. 1971 would soon come, and I remember precious little about that year. I will dredge through my memory banks and try to write something about that year, tomorrow.
See you then.
PS What do you remember from 1970?