In the opening of her book The Curve of Time, Muriel Wylie Blanchet paraphrases John Donne and Maurice Maeterlinck as they describe time. A person can stand at the top of a curve, she wrote, and look back to the past and ahead to the future at the same time.
That’s how I feel about Remembrance Day.
During the first World War, three of my great-uncles left their farms in what is now Tsawwassen, BC, for army service in France. Their younger brother, my grandfather, delivered supplies to a prisoner-of-war camp in the Monashee Mountains. They all returned to their farms and picked up their lives – they got married, raised crops and children, and argued happily and constantly with each other for another four decades.
During World War Two, the young woman who would be my mother-in-law left her home in Detroit to work in Codes and Cyphers for the Canadian Air Force. There, she met the man she loved and bickered with for fifty years.
As I think about my relatives this week, long gone from old age and natural causes, I also focus on my friend’s daughter in Afghanistan. I look into the future, when she comes home and argues with her loved ones for a long, long time.