45th and 80th Birthdays

Written by Harold McNeill on January 15th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Christine McNeill LeClair and her Daddy, Harold

While we have four children, Jay, Kari, Christine and Sean, along with three grandchildren, Grayson, Audrey and Avery, it was my good fortune to have shared a birthday with the youngest daughter, Christine. That birthday bundle arrived in the wee hours of the morning at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.  Happy Birthday, Christine.

Heartfelt thanks to family and friends who phoned, sent texts or posted birthday wishes on Facebook. Many things happened that made this one memorable day, and part of it was due to the Covid.   I’ll take the day one item at a time.

A Surprise Cruise

As many of you are aware, we have a new grand-daughter (now 19 months) and we maintain close contact with Sean and Alysha as we provide intermittent grandparent care (thank you, Avery). When the
three came over today for a birthday lunch, and among other things, Lynn and the kids told me about the frustrating path they had followed in planning for this day.  Their story gave me insight into some of the stress I remember Lynn being under as the travel business crashed in March 2020.

At that time, Lynn had dozens of clients whose trips were cancelled and getting refunds was the order of the day. While most cruise companies and airlines were pretty good, others were only willing to apply future cruise or flight credits. What I did not know, a few dozen ‘clients’ included family and friends who intended to surprise me aboard the Royal Caribbean’s, Oasis of the Sea. Oh well, the best-laid plans, as they say. Now, on to Plan B.

An Island Retreat

Because families were still allowed to gather for events, the smaller family group decided to rent a retreat home on one of the Islands for a family get-away as we have done for past trips.  Alas, towards the end of the year, Covid again intervened, and it was back to the drawing board.  During all this, Mr Clueless had no idea any of this was on the planning books. When we arrived on January 13th, the birthday party had slimmed down to Mom, Dad, Jay, Sean, Alysha and Avery.  Ah, but again, I was in for a surprise.

A Neighbourhood Birthday

During the birthday morning when cleaning up from some of the wind damage caused by the previous overnight storm, I noted birthday wishes pinned to the Christmas tree that is a single remaining item from the array of Christmas street decorations. It was clear someone was-being mischievous.  While on our walk to the park, various neighbours had wished me happy birthday, but just after Sean and Alysha left, more neighbours and a half dozen young kids started gathering out front.  Here is a slideshow with a couple of short video clips. (Harold and Christine’s Birthday)

 

All physically distanced as per the current rules, they sang happy birthday as the kids came forth with flowers and cards.  It was a touching moment as this neighbourhood (as with the more rural one we lived on when on West Viaduct), is one of close-connection between neighbours. We are also so fortunate to have families with young kids surrounding us, and during this time of Covid, the kids are often on the street and in yards playing.  Our street is back to a time when Sean was a pre-schooler, but now we are the seniors and so lucky to be surrounded by neighbours who care about each other.

A Surprise Gift

As family members know, Lynn often squirrels herself away as she makes handcrafted gifts for
birthdays, Christmas, and other special days or events.  So it was over the past couple of weeks as she carefully crafted a unique aeroplane for Papa Bear – a touch of Around the World in Eighty Days.  The clock base is still being completed but here is the main body of the aeroplane and pilot, all finely crafted from scratch by Lynn. Photos included as soon as the base is complete.

How Does it feel as I start my eighth decade?

I’d say each decade of my life has proven to be even better than the one before. Not only am I surrounded by loving family and friends, but I also wake up each day with an immense number of things I look forward to doing.  My challenge is, how to stuff them all in the time I have left in this amazing world we call home.

Hopefully, the things I do and say over the next decade will help make the world a better place. I also hope my extended family and friends will succeed in keeping things on an even keel in their lives as the world continues to change at a breakneck pace.

Love,

Harold

PS  Thank you to everyone and especially the grandkids and neighbourhood kids: Grayson, Audrey, Avery, Michael, Felix, Clara, Vienna, Jaifa, Zidan, Jahan, Lucia and many others sprinkled through their teens. Each of you and your families makes the world a brighter place.

 

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Comments (2)

  • Graham and Nazanin
    January 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

    • Harold McNeill
      January 15, 2021 at 3:33 pm |

      Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.