July 4, 2005
As our Canada Day/Independence Day weekend draws to an end, I think about the significance of our two countries celebrating their birthdays so close together. Not only our birthdays, but our freedom as well, something we don’t consciously pay much attention to as we break out the beer and the barbeque. Like everyone else, I save my freedom sentiments for days such as Remembrance Day or Memorial Day. But something odd happened to me the other day as I was enjoying the Canada Day festivities at a local park.
I had a couple of hours to kill alone while my husband did his volunteer duties. Since the park was located on the lakeshore, it was to be a relaxing two hours sitting on a park bench and enjoying the view of the lake. Normally, I’d be taking in the sounds of the waves and the sea gulls, but being Canada Day, I would be taking in the sounds of a local rock band echoing across the park instead. The bench I chose happened to be next to the Naval Monument, a lovely war memorial complete with a cast iron statue of a saluting sailor, a wall decorated with the names of our fallen Canadian sailors and another wall decorated with the names of the ships that served during the wars.
It was a lovely day with a strong breeze. As I sat there, the wind loosened a white silk flower from one of the memorial’s wreaths. It flew off the wreath and landed on the ground next to me. I stared at it for a few moments and wondered whether I should try to put it back on the wreath. There were many people around and I figured I might look silly fussing with this flower, so I decided to just leave it on the ground. The breeze was still strong, but the flower refused to leave my side. After a few minutes, I picked it up.
Then my imagination kicked in. Or was it my imagination? Did the spirit of a sailor lost at sea really bring me the flower? Was he my lover from a past life? Maybe he was a sailor who once kissed me goodbye as he went off to war. Perhaps I would have come to him as a mermaid in his dreams, the dreams of a lonely sailor who knew he might never see his sweetheart again. Did I wait for him by the shore every night, wondering if this would be the night he came home to me? Did I cry endless tears for him when he never came back? I think I would have thrown white flowers into the sea every day for him. White flowers such as the one I was holding.
My daydream dissolved as my husband joined me on the bench. He asked me where the flower came from and I told him a dead sailor gave it to me. He just shook his head like he always does at my eccentricity. As we got up to join the festivities, I silently thanked my sailor for the flower. And I silently thanked him for my freedom.
Naval Ships’ Memorial Monument, Burlington Ontario
This poem is written on the wall of the monument:
On all the oceans white caps flow,
You see no crosses row on row.
But those who sleep beneath the sea,
Rest in peace, for your country is free.
© 2015 – All rights reserved Loretta Notto @ Mermaid Fingers