WHEN I VISITED MY MOM IN HER NURSING HOME, one of our favourite pastimes was holding hands in the warmth of the summer sun and singing familiar songs. We sang old marching tunes she’d learned from her dad, who fought in the First World War. From there, we would break into God Save the King. But she always loved singing The White Cliffs of Dover – a song that promised “love and laughter and peace ever after” at the end of the Second World War.
Mom was actually a product of two wars. While her dad’s war experiences impacted her early life, the Second World War affected her as a young woman. She said goodbye to her brother and to more than one boyfriend who headed overseas to fight in a war that sucked the life out of so many. And she stole the hearts of a few more “boys” at the Red Cross Canteen where she worked as a volunteer every week. During her days at the canteen, she danced with Norwegian soldiers who were training in Canada as pilots, she danced with Canadian soldiers, some on leave, and others whose minds and bodies were wounded beyond repair. She danced for the war effort. It sounds old fashioned, but she danced for King and country. I’m writing this note on the eve of D-Day, and the song that has been running through my mind all day long is The White Cliffs of Dover. Mom passed away in April, just before her 99th birthday. If there was ever anyone who “brought love and laughter” with her, wherever she went, it was my mom.
“It is imperative that their memories become ours.”