Childhood roots go deep

I read somewhere that it takes a community to raise a child.

I agree.

I know this to be true from personal experience.

In actuality, I never gave the community in which I grew up in much credit for raising me until the other day.

The other day I had reason to go back there, to the place of my childhood, a small town that, at least in my dreams, never changes.

My sister and I went back home to attend a memorial service. The man we were honoring was a farm boy, a seedling who sprouted to manhood in the area.

Later in life he became a most respected RCMP who, during his tenure, rode in the famous RCMP musical ride, and escorted members of royalty as well as several well-known dignitaries.

The footprint of his career was most impressive, but those weren’t the stories that held the crowd who came to pay their respects, captive.

It was when it was brought to light how he had caused a rumble at a local dance, spied on the girls down by the school’s old outhouse, and derived great pleasure from simply raising a ruckus whenever he could, that the crowd broke into peals of laughter.

They loved those stories.

He was, after all, one of them.

And as I stood on the edge of that crowd of dear hearts and gentle people, I could see how they had loved him, how they laughed as they remembered the young farm boy who was somebody’s brother, somebody’s son and, above all, somebody’s friend.

He was, after all, one of them.

After the open mike session ended my sister whispered to me that we should slip away.

“Really,” I said, looking at her in surprise. My sister does not slip away. She is usually right there, front row and centre, chatting up a storm.

“Okay,” I murmured, in compliance, thinking in my head, “this isn’t going to happen.”

It didn’t.

Finally, when I went back to get her, there she was chatting up a storm, just like I predicted.

She was, after all, one of them.

I was totally prepared to wait while she visited, but much to my surprise, it didn’t turn out quite that way.

These people, these dear hearts and gentle people from my hometown, wanted to talk to me, too.

It was so many years ago when I left this town with its graveled main street and its tiny white church boasting the huge sign that said, ‘turn back to your bible for the answer.’ I was all of 15. My father’s grave was freshly dug, and the only mother I knew was the one who smiled down at me from her picture on the piano.

And so I moved on.

But, although I didn’t know it at the time, the days of my childhood were already etched, forever, in my heart. And, as they chatted with this grown up lady who is now me, I felt all warm and happy inside, because they knew me.

I was one of them.

I was the kid who swam in the Horseguard River, rode my bike down the dusty main street, went to Sunday School in the tiny white church and learned my ABCs at the local school. I had a dad and brothers and sisters and a dog named Smokey. Everyone knew me and everyone knew my family.

I took this all for granted until the day it all changed and I moved on.

But, that was then and this is now. And now I realize some things never really change.

I’m still one of them.

And for that, I’m most grateful!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake.

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