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

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    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

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    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 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.