National Holidays and Life’s Trajectory

Happy Canada Day, Canadians!

strawberry maple leaf

And happy strawberry season, to everyone who can get ’em locally. (The smell of the warm strawberry field yesterday evening, when we went picking, was delectable. You can’t beat strawberries that were picked minutes ago, just a few blocks away.)

While I’m at it, happy early Independence Day, Americans!

I don’t celebrate Independence Day, but I am closely connected to both nationalities. Both my parents and their families were born in the U.S. Some of my very favouritest people in the world (many of whom are related to me) are American. All the same, and despite my recent ranting, I’m glad to be Canadian.

At this time last year, many folks in this country were watching newlyweds Will and Kate enthrall Ottawa.


At the same time, there was some electronic discussion amongst my far-flung clan – thoughts on why our respective national holidays are the dates they are, the origins of each day, and the current ways of celebrating. I know from experience that Canada and the U.S. are very different places, with their own reasons to be proud of their heritage.

(I actually started to write about all this at the time, in 2011, but the post wasn’t done punctually – and one week later, my world was upside-down. So I never did finish that post… until now.)

Also at that time, Sean told me about a theory that rather knocked me for a loop. He’d just read a review of a book called A Journey Amongst the Good and the Great, by Andy Kerr, “a retired U.S. Navy lawyer who served as special counsel to four secretaries of the Navy”. Kerr was asked for advice about a letter sent to John Connally (secretary of the Navy at the time) from Lee Harvey Oswald, asking for help in changing his discharge from the Marines from an unfavourable to a favourable one. Connally refused.

Then, on November 22nd, 1963, bullets said to be Oswald’s entered the car he was riding in, along with JFK, and both men were hit.

Kerr’s theory is that Connally was the actual target, and Kennedy’s death was just collateral damage.

Do you ever think about how close you have come in your life to being someone different, with a completely different story?

Here’s why I was disconcerted. It is said that Kennedy was planning to withdraw early from Vietnam – until he was killed. As we know, the conflict in Vietnam went on for years and grew much bigger in the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson.

If Kennedy had lived to withdraw his troops, my dad would not have had to decide between living in America and continuing to be a man who didn’t shoot other people. He and my mom moved to Canada together so that he could choose the latter.

Otherwise, I’d almost certainly be from the U.S. – probably Texas. WEIRD THOUGHT – because who knows how much my life would have diverged? I obviously wouldn’t be married to this husband, or mother to the children I am. I probably wouldn’t be a public school teacher, since the American school system is an entirely different beast, and I don’t know if I’d have the chops for it. That’s assuming my parents could have afforded to send me to university down there – and that they could afford to have me at all! After two breech babies in the hospital – which could have been prohibitively expensive – my mom might have felt she needed to call it quits.

Kinda messes with the mind, n’est-ce pas?

Anyway… Let’s just say I’m thankful that the trajectory of my life has led me to exactly where I am – which, at this moment, is listening to my 3-year-old repeat-rescue his toy frogs and turtles in a kiddie pool in the backyard of my parents’ house, while his little unborn sister kicks me in the bladder, under the most gorgeous blue sky imaginable.


3 thoughts on “National Holidays and Life’s Trajectory

  1. Amanda says:

    Victoria and I just had a talk the other day about life and if it is a path made from choices or fate. In your case would you still have some how married Sean because that was your fate or is your life path based on choices. Victoria comes down on the side of choice….for me…I am not sure just yet.

  2. Mama says:

    Wonderful musings – very much like some I’ve had myself. I almost went to the University of Chicago, not Rice. What then? I wouldn’t have met your dad – at least, not in university…

    I’m glad thiings turned out as they did, my wonderful daughter. I hope my other two wonderful daughters and my wonderful son agree1

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