UR Life

An Old Soldier

John McCormick

By John McCormick


An Old Soldier Fades Away. Dec. 1916-Mar.2015 Art Angus
I kept telling Art that we would keep him going until he was at least one hundred
In that way I failed my friend, but I am sure he knew it was time. My failure was in recognizing that his time was now.
As we sat on his bed yesterday and talked as we always did, he told me he had had a good life and family, and he could ask for nothing more. He always told me this, and I absolutely agreed with him as this is so true of my family and mine. It is so important to everyone that families care, love, and be there for one another throughout our lives, not only at the end.

I could well have met Art and his family earlier in life as our paths crossed years ago in around 1958 in early days of Elliot Lake where we both worked and lived at the mines there.
I wish I had gotten to know my friend and his young family then, as we had so much to tell one another later. I became his confessor and he mine.
In a way Art was brilliant, as he had an excellent mind and memory. He remembered details and numbers. He worried about the country's economy and what is happening today.
He saw with me, the senselessness of war and how it never profits the common man, even though he was proud to have served in WW2. It had changed his life path as that is where he met his best friend and future wife. The two small children they had at that time, grieved with me tonight. They are both successful in their lives and loved their Dad.
A retirement home is not where I would like to be, as I find that is full of sad people retiring into themselves and their past. Often tucked away it seems, where few families see the need to see and comfort them regularly.. Some only do so but only occasionally at holiday times. We spoke of this often. Residents walk and sometimes stumble past one another seldom speaking to each other. The need is there I am sure, as I talked to a lot of them. Art had visitors and lots of phone calls. He was loved. This kept him happy to the end I am sure.

It seems the demographics of the home he was in have changed in the past few years As there are more now in invalid walkers and wheel chairs both upstairs and down. We all age together in different states of health.
Entertainment is well provided in these places, but it is just that, without the constant love that is needed for most. There is a lovely view of the lake. Of the hundred plus residents it seemed like he and I were most times the only ones sitting out there some days in the summer.
Art said it was a million dollar view. Sadly he went almost blind A partial legacy of shrapnel of the war. He could see less and less towards the end due to Macular de-generation in his good eye.
We appreciated the value of all of our senses and how well we have been made. We marveled at how even the smallest of creatures were part of our lives. Art felt sorry for them all, although he bent the rules of the place at times, and fed a seagull and a visiting squirrel . We laughed a lot.
He had a lasting dread of fire and for the poor residents upstairs in the care part. and how they would get out. He said he had once pulled a burning German from a tank in Italy. We talked of sprinkler systems and their effectiveness and I am sure the fact that he constantly brought this up at the resident meetings possibly may have somewhat influenced the installation there. I think we managed to disguise his latter needs to save him from being moved upstairs. John McCormick

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