Yesterday the sands of time trickled past another one of those milestones that cause you to pause and take stock of things.
December the 10th 1951 dropped a little screaming bundle into the lives of Mary Maxine and George Edward Mist. It was about –2C in Peterborough Ontario with a trace of snow when I came along. Harry S. Truman was the US President and Louis St. Laurent was the Canadian Prime Minister. World War II had been over for 6 years but soldiers had found a new place to die – Korea. Wikipedia tells me that Doug Allder, an English footballer, was born on the same day but that no one worth mentioning died (I’m sure tens of thousands of grieving family members on that day would beg to differ). I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 and Joe DiMaggio would retire from baseball on the 11th of December.
My childhood was tumultuous to say the least. Ted, my dad, was always chasing the dream job so we moved very frequently. My mom, dear sweet Maxine, trudged behind him with 2 young bewildered children forced to constantly say goodbye to friends. Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario(again) and finally British Columbia before I finally said enough and threw down a small anchor in the dirt. The family moved back to Ontario and I was left to start making my own mistakes and life choices. Some good friends with some dodgy habits. A crummy job followed by one that was less crummy. A marriage that, looking back through the eyes of maturity, had no business happening and was surpassed in stupidity only by the first guy to utter those famous words “Hold my beer and watch this!”. That adventure lasted 13 months, ended badly and caused me to grow up a whole lot in a short period of time.
This brings us all the way to 1973. British Columbia had lost its appeal and there was talk of an opportunity back in Ontario where my father was still dreaming his dreams but by now had just enough money to be able to entice his son back home. So, I loaded up my nearly new Ford Pinto (stop snickering!!) with all my worldly possessions, which weren’t much after the marriage breakup, and drive all the way from North Vancouver British Columbia to Mississauga Ontario. In about 3 days. Alone. In February. In the snow. I don’t want to say it was a harrowing experience but, when I arrived at my parent’s house, the housekeeper wouldn’t let me in and frantically contacted my mother to report a wild eyed greasy hippie trying to break in.
Needless to say, the promised opportunity somehow dried up as I was risking my life and the lives of others on my caffeine and amphetamine version of the Cannonball Run across Canada. More forgettable jobs followed with me actually having 3 in one day at one point. It wasn’t until September 1978 when I walked into a warehouse office near the airport in Mississauga that my life finally started to take focus. Not immediately, of course. Working midnights and having too much daylight on your hands is a grand recipe for heavy drinking and general male goofiness. That all changed when I moved into the office and met a lovely young lady with the longest blonde hair that I had ever seen. Hello Jan Stuart.
Jan had survived a bad marriage as well so we circled each other for quite a while. I actually kept my own apartment for a year after we moved in together at her place. In 1982 we both came to our senses and threw our hats into the matrimonial ring once again. The triumph of hope over experience. We must have done something right because August 20, 2012 will mark our 30th anniversary.
We bought a house. We both kept working for the same place. They promoted us and gave us raises. Cats and dogs came and went but since neither of us wanted children (or deep down we were afraid given our history) so it’s been the two of us. Jan’s parents died fairly early in our time together as did my father. My sister lost a long battle with alcohol and Maxine passed away a few years back at the age of 80 (boy do I hope I got the majority of my genes from her).
December 11, 2011. 60 years plus 1 day. I’m overweight but 6 months off cigarettes. My eyes suck which makes my photographic hobby more difficult than it should be. I love airplanes and Jan loves her arts and crafts. This keeps us from getting under each others’ feet on weekends. We have a few close friends but spend most of our time home with the cats. The house is paid for. 1 of the 2 cars still has a loan attached but not much. Retirement is only a couple of years away (or sooner depending on how this economy keeps rolling) and we’re ready to leave the rat race and start living.
Yesterday I spent the morning flying around in the back seat of a 59 year old Harvard trainer. I took this self portrait after flying it for a while.
I look happy. I am.