CHARLES DOBIE : LOCAL HISTORY
KEARNS & VIRGINIATOWN, ONTARIO

Postscript to:
Virginiatown in the 1940's -- A Child's View

By

Kathleen Palmer

Kathleen Palmer.

It's impossible to believe that a year and a half has gone by since I first became excited over the possibilites of attending the 2010 Virginiatown Reunion -- even though nobody would know me at all -- and the resulting deflation when that date coincided with the only weekend of the year I could not go anywhere. But the months following brought the most precious of all gifts -- no Christmas gift could touch this one -- I began to hear from you! I couldn't believe it, I was floored with humility and gratitude to be remembered. Well, okay, not me remembered personally since I was too young, but you remembered my family being there in Virginiatown.

Writing back and forth with you has been a great blessing to me, an unexpected big patch of happiness injected into my life. In feeling remembered, I felt overwhelmingly "special" in a secret sort of way. With each note received from you I walked through my day like a grinning cat with feathers hanging out of my mouth -- nobody could understand the sudden influx of emotional vitality I seemed filled with. Even I didn't understand it, but I basked in it all the same and looked forward to each note from each of you. The minute I found out one of you lived reasonably close by you were socked with me tapping on your shoulder the very next day -- what a treat to meet you! Some of you sent photos to me -- precious things I'll forever treasure. One of you shared a secret with me that we both shared as children and didn't know we shared -- a both hilarious and sad secret from those years so very long ago, memories now made so very sharp again and so very much appreciated. Ah, and one of you had a secret crush on one of "The Sisters"! Whoa!!

You've filled in the gaps in my child-memories, you've filled my life with a Beginning, one I'd always hidden because of the ensuing tragedies that followed when we left Virginatown -- I'd wiped that childhood slate clean, had to -- but you've given one back to me, one I can really "have". This is a gift of immeasureable wealth that now softens the crush of the ones that were to follow. I'm now very proud of my home-made plaid skirts. Both of them!

Most amazing, to look back at all these "kids from the little bush town" and see where they landed, their great accomplishments, feeling the old kindnesses and bonding of small-town togetherness still very much intact, and watching you all drag out your own old memories -- did we really do that? -- and in between the sad parts. To learn about Philip Oehring's death was a huge blow -- one of you sent me a beautiful photo of this special brother of yours and I fell in love with him all over again, just as I dared then to remember I'd glowed like a six year old puppy dog when I'd see him, waaay back then when life seemed so simple and dreams so natural, before the world came and touched our faces. I have his picture hung up near my desk -- he's always in my heart, that beautiful boy. And his mother remembered me -- that was over the top special, to think Mrs. Oehring remembered me. Another fateful blessing because before I could, as I dreamed I might, go up to Virginiatown and once again knock on that same door where still she lived, she left for heaven, and we wept because we all knew and loved this wonderful woman.

You've all done such interesting and marvellous things with your lives, gone to such interesting places, accomplished the most wonderful (often strangest) of things -- it's incredible, really, the myriad of occupations, places you live, interests you have -- a kaleidoscope of our world all emerged from that one little town that still, somehow, connects us, happily so. Some of you have had your own awful tragedies to cope with, your own great joys and life-surprises not necessarily welcome -- all of you are now a large part of what I can now, comfortably, fit into the empty places of my own past -- and yours.

For all of that, for your wonderful friendships, thank you.

I sincerely wish each of you a peace filled, joyous Christmas. You're all stars on my Christmas Tree -- you're all lights in my once-darkened past. You're all my personal Christmas Miracles.

Please remember Mrs. Oehring in your Christmas thoughts, if they're prayers, she'll be hearing them.

Thank you, Charles, for talking me into writing my 6-year-old scattered memories -- they led to so much joy.

Christmas Blessings and much love to each of you -- please keep in touch.

(I'm still looking for Barry Pollock!)

With love,
Kathleen Palmer-O'Neil
(December, 2011).


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