I waited in the departure lounge at the Detroit Airport just two days before Christmas in 2000. My flight to Nova Scotia to spend Christmas with my son Michael was delayed and quite possibly cancelled due to a major storm on the east coast. With little to do while I waited, I began reading a book but quickly tired of the story. I dozed on and off for a few minutes in the uncomfortable airport plastic chair. I began to review my life as the crazy idea of writing a book myself drifted through my mind. I had been through several marriages and divorces and had lived almost everywhere from St John’s, Newfoundland to Los Angeles. As a sober crow flies, that’s about as far as one can travel from east to west. I scribbled place names on a blank page in the boring book; Iona, Halifax, Kingston, Cornwall…wait, I missed a couple of towns. And what about the times, I simply moved across town? I began my places-lived count over again. An hour later, as the Delta Airlines lady announced the newest departure time, I came up with a total count of thirty-three. Thirty-Three! Since I left home at age 19, I had moved thirty-three times!
I’ve been a rolling stone. That’s the nature of the army and the radio business. It’s also the nature of marriage and divorce and marriage and divorce. Evictions also count. Living in one’s car, does not. I’ve experienced all of them. Through all of those moves, one place, one village, one rural route remained in my heart. Home. Yes, I come now to Niagara Falls, where my wife and I live but one place will always live in my memory as “home.” It’s where I grew up. It’s where my oldest friends still live. A few days ago, I went home. I returned this time, mostly by invitation, to Iona Parish where I grew up. Yes, after all these years, it’s still home.
I wasn’t sure how I would be received back home after the publication of my book. I imagined picket signs! However, I was touched by the heartwarming welcome and the many people who had already bought my book and just wanted it signed. It was wonderful to see so many old friends, some of whom I have not seen in fifty years and to remember those dear friends, like Richard, James Andre and Howard who have passed on. They have moved to the ultimate home.
Also, thank you to everyone who braved a hurricane to come to Coles in Sydney from home, many with books in hand and to those who bought so many books that the store sold out.
Finally, thanks to Jay and Sheilah from the Eagle 103.5 for inviting me to be a part of the morning show. Word of mouth is the best advertising and promotion. I kept hearing the same phrase over and over. “I couldn’t out it down.” The best compliment of all came as a question from two retired school teachers, Anne and Florence in Halifax, but formerly from home, who asked, “where did you learn to write like that?”
I don’t know how I wrote as I did. I just told my stories, just like the old folks used to do when I was a young kid, back home.