Looking back to childhood, I realize that the longer time passes, the more the memories fade. However there are a few times that are forever etched in my brain.
Growing up, my brother Jim was 3 years older than me. Although he teased me relentlessly, and we fought nonstop, he was always looking out for me. I knew that I had him in my corner.
Sometimes, although very rarely, he would include me in some of his adventures. One day, when we were quite young, he allowed me to hang out with him and our next door neighbour Paul.
Paul was not the most attractive kid on the block. In fact, some might describe him as homely looking. But because he was my brother’s friend, and older than me, I had a bit of a crush on him.
Anyhow, this one day we took off, the three of us, and we went to check out Pointe Claire Shopping Centre. This was a newly built strip mall. The mall was about 30 minutes away on foot. I was excited to be going anywhere with Jim and Paul, let alone to the shopping centre.
What is forever etched in my mind about our outing is that when we were en route, we walked under a bridge, and we found something most unusual. It was under that bridge that we found a dead bird. It was the first time I had seen anything dead. For some reason this was a huge deal to me. It felt like an urgent situation.
Not sure what to do with our find we raced home to report the dead bird to my Mom. She would know what to do.
My mother was not one to overreact too much. She was a nurse, and Jim and I were kids number 5 and 6, so there was very little we could do to upset her.
However, the report of the dead bird did, in fact, upset her. Not because the bird was dead (which was my concern) but because of what we might have done with the carcass.
She immediately started to triage the situation. “Did you bring it home?” No. “Did you touch it?” No. Okay….good….huge relief for Mom.
I suppose she was concerned, and rightfully so, that somehow we would have done something stupid with the bird and managed to pick up a disease. But, after poking the bird with a stick, the three of us had concluded that there was nothing left to be done. However, given the gravity of the situation, this warranted a full report back home.
Those adventures on our own are what made growing up so special. We would be like Tom Sawyer for a day. Finding things, poking things, then moving on.
Paul eventually moved away, never to be heard from again. I wonder if he still remembers the dead bird incident.