Browsed by
Month: December 2021



It would’ve been sixty years come February. Maisie was standing by the big kitchen window staring into the darkness that still loomed over the world, the edges of the hills and trees not quite visible just yet. She tugged her tattered old sweater a little closer over her shoulders, as she thought of a wedding anniversary that didn’t really matter anymore. She’d just lit the stove in the front room, but the warmth of the fire hadn’t yet penetrated the early morning coolness.

Her husband, Lucky came into her mind, a lot these days. A knot would always tighten around her chest with those thoughts. It’s hard to believe that just a couple of months ago he was bustling around, getting the fire started, busy doing all sorts while she prepared the breakfast. A hint of a smile touched Maisie’s lips when she thought of his actual name, Lucas or Lukie. Since he was a child, it’d become Lucky on account of his extraordinary luck at getting out of scrapes. He just had an unmistakable charm that never seemed to fade. She stiffened now at the thought of how that luck just ran out a couple of months ago.

Maisie was usually up before dawn, but today has traditionally been a day that the family would come together to await the sunrise. Oh, every year, without question, Lucky loved to celebrate the winter solstice. It was just something that he had done since he was a child and the tradition had easily nestled into the heart of their own family.

Now, even though Maisie loved her grandchildren and family, more than life itself, she was still definitely not in the mood to watch the sun rise. Why bother. It’s just … Lucky had always spoken about letting in the light of the new season. But what light?

The various routines and rituals of her days offered her a few hand-holds that helped her get through life these days. But somehow her world had acquired one of those dull echoes, like when all the furniture and the pictures on the walls have been removed from a room. You can feel the difference. She remembered being angry when Lucky had died, been taken away from her. Seething almost. Now, no. Now, it was like after a party is over. Everyone’s gone and decorations are limply hanging on the walls. No sound.

She looked around, as she’d heard some bumps and creaks, others bustling and getting ready.

“Gran! You’re up!” Lukie, Maisie’s grandson, called out as he came bouncing into the room. Lukie had been named after her Lucky, gifted with the same extraordinary luck and charm. He always seemed to have a skip in his step, like a boisterous and bubbling stream plugged into the world itself.

“Where’s Ravvy? Is she up yet?” Maisie asked.

“Yeah, she’ll be ready. I heard Mom and Dad, too. I think they’re right behind me.” He was getting himself organised, pushing chairs into place, all business-like. “You’ve gotta sit by me and Ravvie, Gran. Remember that’s what Papa always said. I bet Papa will be watching, too. Won’t he gran?”

Lukie had that way of speaking, his words and ideas tumbling out non-stop, his mind no longer able to contain them as they flowed.

“Yes. I expect so, love,” the words almost sheering against her heart. She turned as Sam, Maisie’s son walked into the kitchen.

“We’re almost ready”he half spoke-half yawned, smiling at his mom as he gave her a hug. It had been a difficult time for her and Sam wasn’t sure how she was going to do this morning. He squeezed her shoulder before going to pour a cup of tea that his mom had made for them. Guinie his wife followed holding Ravvie’s hand who partially walked and danced alongside her mom.

“G’morning gran,” Ravvie sang out to Maisie, her arms opening wide, ready to give her gran a bear hug that always seemed to bely her four years of age.

“Good morning, Love” Maisie responded with a smile, her arms open, ready to receive Ravvie.

Everyone settled into the big chairs around the solid wooden table, Ravvie draped over Sam’s arm, with everyone holding one another’s hands. No one sat in Lucky’s chair, the sweater he always wore outside still hanging on its back, almost expecting its wearer to stride in at any moment.

Sam exchanged an anxious look with Guinie, rubbing his thumb over his mom’s hand. Lukie on Maisie’s other side merely looked up at his gran and smiled, his eyes sparkling as he squeezed her hand.

Gradually, the hills in the distance and the shapes of the trees began to emerge from the darkness as the light of the distant sun began to brighten the sky. A few clouds could be seen hanging in the sky, like an honour guard awaiting their monarch. The colours began to change, the golden centre surrounded with a velvety orangey crimson red.

And then at some point, the sun must have edged past a cloud and everyone took an intake of breath as a brilliant starburst of rays suddenly exploded into the sky, the individual shafts of light remaining in place, as if time itself had stopped. They all watched, mesmerised by a sky that was alive with colours, no one speaking just yet, afraid to break the spell of the sun.

Maisie’s mind was suddenly thrust back decades, before Sam was born, when she and Lucky had first moved back to his family’s farm house. A spark of a genuine smile edged into the darkness that had surrounded her these past months. At this moment, years ago, when they watched the sun rise at winter solstice, Lucky had sighed and smiled, “That’ll mark the coming of the light,” he said looking at Maisie. “It’s the end of the darkness, for sure. Oh it fills you with hope, doesn’t it?” he rubbed Maisie’s leg. They had been going through some very hard times, in those days.

“Well Dad would’ve loved that entry, wouldn’t he ma,” Sam remarked.

“And Papa was here!!” Lukie added excitedly “Right Ravie. He was!!” Ravie smiled and nodded her head vigorously, the two of them laughing, loving the thought of it.

“Yes” Maisie said, ruffled Lukie’s hair, smiling at Ravie. “It did feel like he was here, didn’t it – that he came?”

Sam smiled, his eyes moistened, a tear rolling down his cheek. “Oh Ma” he said, as he rubbed her shoulders. “He never left did he? He never went anywhere.” He leaned over and gave his mom a kiss and a hug.

“Yeah, it’s just at times like the solstice, we’re reminded of that, eh” Guinie added, smiling at both Maisie and Sam.

Like the dance of the planet and the sun at winter solstice, everything paused for a moment and no one moved from their seats. The sky continued its transformation as the ever brightening gleam of the sun continued to further lighten and shape the new morning.

After a moment, Sam got up, depositing Ravvie on the chair, squeezing his mom’s shoulder as he walked to the counter. “So, who wants some tea?” he called out as he began to fill the kettle.

For Maisie, well, she smiled as she felt that old charm filling the room. “Yes,” she thought, “her Lucky had never left, had he.” And with that, a new day of hope began.

With a Full Heart

With a Full Heart

For many of us, Christmastime is signified by the hallmark of holiday lights, Christmas trees, delicious smells of cloves and cinnamon, and the distant tinkling of bells. A rich time of the year, one that finds us typically visiting shops, large and small, to dizzyingly purchase a cavalcade of items we’ve excitedly chosen to gift our family members and friends.

Still, we close our eyes and smile thinking back to the time when our parents or grandparents lived. We sigh as we remember them telling of how they were delighted having received perhaps a simple rag doll made by some member of their family. And that was it. Sometimes they didn’t receive anything at all. But it didn’t seem to matter.

Then we squint our eyes and wonder. How is it we’ve arrived at a time where the norm for most on Christmas day is a sitting room strewn with torn wrapping paper surrounding a vast array of gadgets, toys, bottles, and clothes? Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’d want people to not bother giving things to their loved ones. But it seems all that stuff is ruling our lives – finding it, buying it, using it, and then forgetting it. Is it possible for us not to immediately look to the shops as the source of the heartfelt pleasure we hope to evoke?

For too long, we’ve been inundated with ads for countless items of every sort. Buy this and you’ll be able to make the perfect meal. Purchase something else and our hair will be forever ideally coiffed. What about this item? It’s sure to be the most comfortable pair of shoes you’ve ever had, we’re ever so earnestly told. And so on. We see the ads on television, in magazines and newspapers. Often, they’re things our friends and family have purchased throughout the year. We are told how we would be happy if we only had such and such an item. We are assailed with messages of how critical these bits and bobs happen to be. At the same time, we’re incessantly informed of how we’d be sporty, an adventurer of all time, sophisticated, articulate and so on, if we were to use a particular bit of stuff. Throughout our lives we are battered with these words.

All this is couched in the often blatantly consumerist society in which we work and play. Consumerism is defined as the idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that a person’s well-being and happiness depend fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions. Sound familiar? We live in a world where a vast assortment of items are produced, one that is guided by a mantra of planned obsolescence and non-stop advertising. Ultimately, the idea is for us to be convinced our lives would never be the same if we didn’t have them.

It works. Check out any shop on Boxing Day in Canada, now Boxing Week. Black Friday, an entity that was once solely followed by our friends to the south, now exists worldwide. It’s been joined by Cyber Monday. Just to get a break from all that spending, it’s followed by “Giving Tuesday,” sort of a repentance for all that shameless bowing we’ve conceded to over the past two days.

I don’t know how we can pull ourselves out of the spell spun by many businesses to embrace consumerism. Although, I am put in mind of an old Christmas favourite, one that seemed to perfectly capture what seems to be the true moral of the story.

We always watch with glowing eyes as the Grinch masterfully puts into play his devious plan, ever witnessed by Max his loyal and obedient dog. Poor Max is clearly torn by his loyalty to his friend, the Grinch, and what he knows to be dastardly wrong.

The Grinch expertly steals all the toys, baubles, the “Checkerboards, bizilbigs, popcorn, and plums!” But while racing up Mount Crumpet to roar with devilish delight at how he’d ruined their Christmas, he looked down and what did he see!

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,

Was singing without any presents at all!

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling. ‘How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

It came without packages, boxes, or bags!’

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

Unquestionably so. The Who’s were still coming together, holding hands and singing with resounding enthusiasm at the coming of Christmas. It didn’t matter. The torn wires hanging limp, the trees empty of ornaments and all the gifts gone were meaningless. The Grinch watched with amazement and awe.

There’s something to heed in the Grinch’s story. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with finding gifts in shops. Every now and then, we’ll find just the right thing. Still, we must remember how there is no need to be beset with a high fever to purchase countless “fuzzles, tringlers and trappings.” Christmas will always come with none of these added extras, all the same. It is with our full hearts that we welcome this beautiful and majestic time. Merry Christmas!
A Time to be Grateful

A Time to be Grateful

Author Melody Beattie reminds us that … “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” It’s a simple thought of kindness and at this time of the year, such words and thoughts warm our hearts … unquestionably, they signify the spirit of the season!

Placentia Bay Health

Placentia Bay Health

Although the Placentia Health Centre is a relatively recent addition to the landscape of the Placentia area, it emerges from a long history of healthcare. Undoubtedly, it reflects an enduring heritage of health.

In Early Years

As early as 1698, there was apparently a hospital located in Placentia near a lime kiln used for the construction of forts and fortifications such as Fort Louis. As the years progressed, Placentia was ceded to the British from the French in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. It is possible that, at this time, the military continued to provide medical services. However, as more people settled in the Placentia area and on the Islands of Placentia Bay, health became a personal or community responsibility.

Thus, around Placentia Bay, care and maintenance of health was approached using a mixture of beliefs, home remedies and knowledge derived from past experience. This art and skill of healing was often equal to what the medical profession would offer years and decades later in hospitals. Certain people within the community would have been regularly called upon to provide medical assistance for injuries, birth, death and so on.

Nevertheless, more needed to be done. Hence, it was the Commission of Government who, having taken office from 1934 to 1949, recognised the need for a greater investment in healthcare. Charged with reviving the ailing economy of the Dominion of Newfoundland, one of the initiatives of the Commission of Government was intended to rectify health inequities across the island.

Era of the Cottage Hospitals

While one of the first cottage hospitals was situated in Argentia, because of the resettlement of the community in order to make space for the U.S. Military Base, the hospital was moved to Placentia. By 1949, thirteen of the eighteen hospitals were built. These included hospitals in Old Perlican, Markland, Burgeo, Harbour Breton, Come By Chance, Stephenville Crossing, Bonavista, Norris Point, Grand Bank, Placentia, Brookfield, Gander and Botwood.

Photograph of MV Lady Anderson (Source:

Under the Commission of Government, nursing stations were also dotted around Newfoundland and Labrador. Along with the cottage hospitals, hospital ships provided floating clinics. For instance, the M.V. Lady Anderson serviced close to 75 settlements along the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Afterwards, it plied the waters of Placentia Bay where it was also used to transport patients to and fro the Placentia Cottage Hospital. Since the early 1940s, the Placentia cottage hospital remained as a sentinel in the heritage of health for the Placentia area. However, change was on the horizon.

In Modern Times

In April of 1986, the Lions Manor Nursing Home opened its doors. Ten years afterwards, the heritage of health in the Placentia area continued to evolve when the Placentia Health Centre was built. And then, two years later in October of 1998, the bricks and mortar of the old Cottage Hospital were taken down. Nonetheless, its memory has remained safely housed in the touching stories of residents. These memories and stories are securely and uniquely braided around this vital part of the Placentia area landscape.

Without question, the heritage of health in the Placentia area is deep and interesting, one firmly etched into its identity. And from the 17thcentury to the present, the investment of health remains an integral part of the landscape.

Handwrite a Letter to a Friend

Handwrite a Letter to a Friend

In this day and age, people are sending and receiving hundreds of emails and text messages! But you can be sure, nothing could possibly beat a good old-fashioned handwritten letter! It is filled with warmth, love, and care. The person who receives the letter will no doubt be overwhelmed by the spirit embedded in your letter. There is something far deeper when we can touch the very words another took the time to write.