Clifford was a member of my Masonic Lodge. He was in the Canadian Navy; after which, he became a police officer. When I came to know Clifford he was well into retirement. He had had a stroke which affected his mobility. His speech was limited to saying three things; Yes, No and Jesus Christ.
I would visit Clifford in his home. After his wife died he moved into the veteran’s wing of a local hospital. My visits with him continued.
Given his speech limitations I had to be cautious of how I asked my questions; after all, his response options were restricted to three possibilities. Conversations went something like this:
“Clifford, we had a lot of rain on the weekend.”
“I hope you weren’t outside for any of it. Did you get wet?”
“That’s good. It was a miserable day for travelling. Some say we are going to get a lot of snow this winter.”
Because of his limitations I would spend my visits telling him stories and bringing him up to date with relevant matters. I would also escort him through the hospital wings in his wheelchair.
I was still active in the naval reserve. One Remembrance Day, our annual observation of those who died in service, I decided to visit Clifford. I had paraded that morning with my unit. When I visited him I was still in my uniform.
At this point I should point out that in the Canadian Armed Forces if one is Mentioned in Dispatch (MiD), it means that person carried out such meritorious action that it was worthy of having an official report written and forwarded to high command. If one is MiD, s/he is not awarded a specific medal but a spray of oak leaves is located upon a medal that has already been presented.
I found Clifford in his room. He had been part of a Remembrance Day ceremony as he was wearing his Canadian Legion uniform. He was in his wheelchair and his blue blazer was lying on his bed. I looked at his World War II medals.
“Clifford, you were Mentioned in Dispatch.”
“Wow, I bet you that is quite a story.”
“I am sorry that you are unable to tell me what happened. I would really like to hear about it.”
“Clifford, I’ll tell you what. Somehow I am going to find out the story and when I next visit, I am going to tell it to you. How about that?”
to be continued ……………………..
“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”
John Maxwell Edmunds
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