Two hundred and fifty-six

Remembrance Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

Today we remember all those who fought for their country and served during wartime.  We honour their courage and sacrifice.  At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year two minutes of silence is held, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I hostilities between Germany and the Allies in 1918.

There are many events happening throughout the Commonwealth countries to commemorate the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.  In the United States the day is referred to as Veteran’s Day and in France and Belgium it is Armistice Day.  See here for some events happening in the Toronto area.

Both of my grandfathers served their country, one Canadian and one American, and every November 11th I think about the sacrifices they made for their children, their grandchildren and all the future generations.  My boppa, who I visited his grave for All Soul’s Day, would never talk about the war.  It was too much for him to speak out loud.  I thank them for what they did, as well as all other men and women who have served for us.

Whether you believe in the need for war or not, do not forget.

Recap of Forget Me Not Day

Funny how “forget me not” comes right before “remembrance” day.  The importance of not forgetting those important around us in a small scale, to remembering those who allowed us to be able to have the freedom to keep those important people in our lives in a large scale.

Yesterday I called a woman who helped raise me, who played a part in who I am now, who I am grateful to still have in my life.  Mary was my babysitter/nanny from when I was a newborn until I was old enough not to need a caregiver anymore.  My mom worked shifts and my dad worked 9-5, so when we were old enough to go to school and get home on our own, Mary would be at our house to keep us company after school until my dad got home.  In those two hours we made crafts, she helped us with our homework, we played games and chatted about what was going on in our lives.  She is family to me, even though we are not blood related.

Mary is now in her 80s and is having a hard time.  She was sick with pneumonia twice this summer, had an infection on her hand and her toe, her sight is deteriorating, she’s had multiple knee operations.  She is strong, though, and still lives alone in an apartment, walks to the grocery store to do her own shopping, cooks her own meals.  She is an inspiration to me.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made enough of an effort this past summer to see her.  I can list off excuses, but none are good enough.  Today I called her and we chatted about life.  I’m going to go visit her next week, as well as my Nana (who is always giving me guilt trips about not seeing her enough – she reads my blog and I’m going to get in trouble for writing that…).

Sometimes we need a little nudge to connect with those people who we don’t see every day, but are dear to our heart.

Two hundred and fifty-five

Forget Me Not Day

According to legend, the forget me not flower got its name from a medieval knight who, while walking along the side of the river with his beloved, slipped and fell into the water.  As the weight of his armour pulled him into the water, his handed his love a bouquet of small blue flowers and whispered “forget me not”.  Forget me nots have been said to be a good luck charm, protect against witches, used in teas, and given as gifts in remembrance.

Although I cannot find the origin of Forget Me Not Day, it’s a great excuse to call up people I haven’t seen in awhile and remind them how important they are to me.

Iqbal Day recap

I spent the afternoon reading Allama Iqbal’s poetry.  Here are a couple of my favourite excerpts:

The word springing from the heart surely carries weight,
Though notendowed with wings, it yet can fly in space.

Pureand spiritual in its essence, it pegs its gaze on high,
Rising from the lowly dust, grazes past the skies.

Keen, defiant, and querulous was my passion crazed,
It pierced through the skies, my audacious wail.

– From Jawab-e-Shikwa

After his mother’s death in 1914, Iqbal wrote an elegy for her:

Who would wait for me anxiously in my native place?
Who would display restlessness if my letter fails to arrive
I will visit thy grave with this complaint:
Who will now think of me in midnight prayers?
All thy life thy love served me with devotion—
When I became fit to serve thee, thou hast departed.

– Source: Wikipedia