June 9, 1917 Steps of My Grandfather

June 9, 1917

I spent the day thinking about my grandfather. “Tam” was his name. That’s what we called him. I was named after him proper, his name was Thomas John Thomson. He died two years before I was born but I felt like I knew him. I heard a lot of stories about him – good, then not so good. Despite having same name as my grandfather, no one ever called me “Tam”. I wondered about that. But as I got older, I began to understand why the name “Tam” went to the grave with him. I often wondered why my oldest brother, George, wasn’t named after Tam. My parents waited for the third eldest son – me –  before they passed down the name “Thomas John Thomson”.

Tam was a big storyteller. Always the centre of attention and the hero of every story he told. Tam was the pillar of the community in Claremont. Penniless from Scotland, he made good for himself and ended up with a house full of servants and more than enough money to make an inheritance for everyone. But later I learned Tam wasn’t such the upstanding citizen back in Scotland. Families have secrets you know and Tam had a few of them that he left behind by escaping to Canada. I learned that he not only left one child behind in Scotland, but actually two children. And from two different women at the same time. The church was forcing him to marry one of them so he came to Canada instead. His plan was to work and to send money back but he found Elizabeth Brodie from Whitby. His third, and he started over. Tam was example that you could start a new and noble life, leaving all of the other entanglements behind. Maybe not so noble, but it was a common option.

I am writing this because I am weighing what to do with Winnie. As they say, nothing makes the mind clearer than an execution in the morning. Certainly, this isn’t as dire as an execution, but it’s making me think about my options. People think it’s simple: you marry and that’s it. You send your boy off to war and that’s it. No choices and no questions. But the heaven and hell approach to life condemns people to a miserable existence. Many think that’s the way it should be. And you can see it in the eyes of people – misery.    It may not be misery but I’m not sure. I don’t yet know what my options are. But one thing I need to do tonight is write a letter to Winnie.


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