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GUEST COLUMN: The girl my father fell in love with

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By Bob Boulton

Bob Boulton

From the outside, my mother’s and father’s romance did not resemble, to any degree, the movies Casablanca or Titanic or The Little Mermaid. Their love story didn’t rise up triumphant from beneath the sea. They didn’t cling together on a doomed ship. And they didn’t “always have Paris”, even Paris Ontario.

No, and they didn’t encounter each other in Rick’s Café Américain. Where they did meet each other was at the dinner table in the house on the Boulton’s 50-acre family farm. This modest property was located on the 6th Line of Moore Township, now Moore Line, running east to west from the St Clair River.

Alice Bardwell (back row, second from right), the girl who was to become my mother, had been invited to dinner by her early 1930’s Nursing School classmates, my father’s sisters, Grace and Annie — nobody I knew ever called her Ann. (back row, second and third from left.) So, Alice met my father, they got married in the Appin United Church, I was born. Stuff happened in between there somewhere, but nobody ever told me exactly what.

Sarnia General Hospital Junior Class of 1933. (Submitted photo.)

We know that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day aren’t great days for everyone. Some call them Hallmark Holidays — driven more by commerce than commemoration. And for many adults, these days spark more reflection or pain or anger than celebration.

For me, a thorough list of examples of what my own father did to cause me to miss him — even now – might not impress others. For instance, he once took me to visit the old family farm and we picked up a piece of rough wood he said his older brothers had used to build a hay chute decades ago. Or Dad’s explaining the proper birdhouse for Purple Martins. Or his growing the climbing yellow roses she loved so she could see them out the window. And the two of them, every June, even when they were past the Spring Chicken stage of their lives, heading out to Reece’s Corners to Pick-Your-Own strawberries

William Wordsworth in Tintern Abbey referred to: “little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” But, when I perform some act with a generous heart I often think “That’s sort of like Dad would do.”

My father didn’t climb any mountains or slay any dragons. He made me feel I was worth caring about.

My hope is that we can all share at least a piece of our life with someone, like my father and now my family, who shows us how to love in a tough world.

Although I have to say, despite Dad’s robust example, I have never had any interest whatsoever in picking my own strawberries.

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