I will explain beforehand, when I could remember, I wrote the details of this event over 58 years. Eventually before conclusion, I had scribbled (filled) three black and white composition booklets. This will be a long read. Please note there have been name changes and some incomplete info for privacy.
I was very young the first time I heard the bell, a tiny sound, just a ting. Then a light whisper so soft I wasn't sure of any words. As if he was sure I was frightened, it would fade away. The bell was part of this experience each time before he spoke, but I will not mention of the bell again, as a way of saving time for you, the reader. The sound of his voice always came from a corner near the ceiling, even though it would happen in different rooms, different houses, over time.
I grew nonchalant, when I heard him, it became the norm, this young man's voice so gentle, there was nothing to fear. Life was busy and I would just roll over to get much needed sleep. There were times that years would pass, yet when I again heard his whisper, I would have the thought that I missed him.
None of this made any sense, I simply had no time to dwell on him, until I became sick. I spent more time in my bedroom too weak to lift my head. His voice became clear, easier to understand. I would look into my closet, thinking he sitting or laying inside, on the top shelf. Now would you believe it, he spoke with an Irish/Scottish brogue, with a touch of French mixing into his words. I had to get cancer, to understand what he had been saying all this time.
He spoke of his home, his family and of happier times, life at the turn of the (1900) century. He told me that he and I were cousins. He named his seven brothers and how close he was to his one sister. He described the river banking where he fished and enjoyed the wild flowers and beautiful pastures and meadows, all surrounding his home, his town. The river, where he would wade, as it ran into the Atlantic Ocean.
There were times I thought it was the chemo, slowly I got better. This was back in 2002. From this time forward we had great conversations, before I slipped off to sleep. He would talk of his childhood, the gardens and flowers. He mentioned New Brunswick a few times. Each boy had been given a chore to complete daily and they did it for one month, then switched for a different chore, home, barn, gardens, animals, and horses. I began to realize we were not any longer speaking in words, but in thoughts. A communication of thoughts! Wow! I can not recall, ever having this ability in any other circumstance other than perhaps random words from an unknown origin.
I gained information about his Parents, his Father was half American Indian and half Scottish. His Mother was Scottish, third generation in Canada. They had strong faith and lived the Scottish way, close to family, and Church. This meant so much to me as I knew very little of my Mother's side, as she had died when I was a child.
There were times when he was quiet, later he told me that he would become overwhelmingly sad, and unable to communicate. Why so sad, were my thoughts, the silence was my only answer. Often it would be several months to a year, before we conversed again. I placed a pillow and some blankets on the top shelf just in the event, he may be able to use them.
It progressed in this manner and he became one of my best friends, don't you laugh. One can not spend this much time together and this much time in conversations, and not know each other. Yet I was never touched by him, and I never saw him, however I did wonder what he looked like. Then this last year has become different. He became louder, excited if you will. He asked for my help, but he wouldn't tell me how.
He would repeat the numbers 7-2-7-4...and bark out--private--expeditionary. Again and again My Mother is Alice Mc------e. I am your cousin, please help. Increasingly, and repeated much like a broken record, yes they were thoughts in my head but so loud I feared he would wake my husband. What made him change? Hill70Hill70ill70Hill70Hill70EXPEDITIONARY.
I have the cancer again, it is Feb. 2018, and I think this time it will take me. Perhaps out of respect, my Canadian man is quiet, while I am given heavy Chemo and an even meaner surgery, following more chemo. It was an awful year, for me it was the biggest fight I have ever had. March 2019 finds me with some hair, but not all of it. My friend in the closet is still quiet.
Early one evening in late March the phone rings. We get so many Robocalls, we seldom answer, but take a message, then we call back if it is real. I am getting a call from Canada at eight in the evening. My husband advises me to not answer but something tells me that I should. On the west coast it is three hours earlier, and I pick up the phone. Are you Jan--------I answer in my monotone voice, yes, are you the daughter of--------yes. Are you the granddaughter of Edith-------------YES. Do you know Edith had a sister Alice (my heart beats fast). This woman gives me the information that she is in a division of the Government of Canada, and her job is to look for relatives of the War missing with no known grave. We talk for some time, and she explains the details of the DNA and it is only passed down from Mother to Daughter. I begin to get emails after she and I have exchanged information. Our conversation continued with much more information.
Oh, my table looks like a patchwork quilt. Births deaths, marriages and an old tiny picture of an Expeditionary in uniform! Hand written (Highlander)! All the family links I never knew. I am beyond excited. I have a job, I am to call my living cousins to explain and invite them to join, that for so many reasons is the right thing to do. They will need three or more to swab and return the kit. I called cousins that quickly agreed.
Would I ever have had this on going experience had my Canadian man not come to visit? I do not think I would have understood everything without his help. I end this on going event by telling you they did not want my DNA as chemo can change DNA, who knew? Fortunately There are five women that are willing and are sending or have sent their kits back.
The History, if you wish to look into it, is Vimy Ridge-Hill 70 Lens France. Once you start reading, it is endless, horribly sad information.
The bell is quiet, as is my Canadian friend.