Who was this fellow in full uniform standing tall whose picture held the position of dominance in my Great Aunt's parlour?My great aunt is dead and gone now, but I remember well visiting her house before the days of the Internet, iPods and texting. Days when our family still listened to Dan Betzer and Revival Time Ministries on the radio Sunday mornings and CBC and a cloudy not very reliable NTV were the only television stations in town. My Great Aunt's house was a very exciting place to go.
The entrance was an old wooden door with a metal latch that always seems the same; you had to juggle it for it to work. Then the porch was the place where the wood was stored, clove precisely to fit the Waterloo stove and packed neatly in a pile with the splits to the left and some strategically placed birch rind to assist with the deed. As you walk into the main living area/kitchen of my great aunt's house the day bed seems so inviting, a place to rest and observe the happenings of the kitchen and pantry, there always seems to be good things happening in the pantry! I can see my great aunt now, walking back and forth with her dark rim glasses, trusty apron and constant smile.
There were sections of the house that I never went, the upstairs were strictly off limits, we never questioned why, if a child was told something they listened, a lesson still good for today! But there were two rooms that held the most excitement for me, the observation room and the living room. The observation room was on the front of the house overlooking the bay, a table and pair of spyglasses was what I remember most, the hours looking through those spyglasses expecting to see at anytime the Bessie Marie sailing back home where she belonged!
The living room door was always shut, when we talked our aunt into letting us go in there she would walk us in and tell us to sit on the couch or chair and not touch anything. The room was small, nothing fancy by today's standards. The couch was not very comfortable, certainly not comparable to my easy chair today. But the room held a mystique. It could have been the TV that seemed to always
work better than ours. It could have been the big round table that was made from some sort of hardwood and was full of pictures and family memorabilia. But I believe it was the picture, the big picture on the wall of the young man in full British uniform, sharp moustache and bayoneted attached to his rifle. Yes the picture was the reason the room held its place in my heart as the best room ever.
For hours I sat and dreamed of what was happening when the picture was taken, I latter learned World War one was going on. Who was this fellow, Great Aunt?' Leander Mills, one of your relatives'. How old was he'? I never really got an answer; very young', was all I ever heard. Was he brave, Great Aunt'? Yes, very brave, he loved his king and country enough to risk it all as did many other young men of his generation', and I latter learned generations to come. When did he come home'? He did not; he died days before the War ended'. Do you remember him, Great Aunt'? Yes I do, he was special to us all'. Do you miss him, Great Aunt'? Yes I do'.
Who was this fellow in full uniform standing tall whose picture held the position of dominance in my great aunt's parlour? He represented and continues to represent the many brave young men and women who did not come home, who continue to sacrifice for the freedom that I enjoy every day. They deserve to be remembered and honoured. I encourage you to take the time to do so.