He sat in the shade of a tree on the bank of the smooth flowing Eramosa River,
right where the old swimming hole of his childhood used to be. And his thoughts were flooded with the pleasures and pains of his recollections.
His name is Gene, an abbreviation. Most people called him Gene. Some special people
called him Yutch.
As he looked at the deep darkness of the water, flowing to its union with the Speed
River, he couldn’t avoid the analogy that each single human life also begins in some quiet place
and then encounters many rough situations and obstacles as it grows, joining with other mortal
life-flows that may be forceful, perhaps violent, sometimes deep and dark, or just sunny and gentle and clear, until it completes its life course. And he thought of his own life and the external forces that shaped it.
He turned his head and looked across the expanse of the open area of the park, to
the house where he had first met her, the one who was the motive for this trip across the continent. For the pain of aloneness could only be salved by going to where it had all begun, in the city of his birth, and more particularly, at the place where he had started a new direction in life under the enchanting and benevolent influence of the love of an angel.
How else could he describe her, this special girl who had brought the brightness of love
into the unloving tenor of his life? Oh, there where many nouns and adjectives that would
speak to her red-headed, vivacious beauty. This gorgeous girl with the striking, blue-green
eyes in the peaches and cream, lightly freckled face, this joyful intelligence occupying a 5’ 1”, curvaceous and athletic body was a “special” person who became his true love.
But “angel” speaks beyond the outward appearance. For, even if she had not been blessed
with physical beauty, the strength of her moral intelligence and spirit was what made her unique
and gave her the power to have such a positive influence upon the flow of the lives she touched.
And, looking back over the years of their togetherness, he could testify to that!
He reflected upon the fact that the Bible speaks of angels as “principalities and powers in high-places,” good-influence types as well as evil-influence types. Also, the word “angel” is sometimes used for humans who exert good influence upon others in special ways. Yes, Chris was his angel! How else should one portray the source of this encouragement to moral goodness that had so modified his life, and that had helped him to overcome the power for evil that had distorted his life before he had come into contact with the contrasting, gentle influence of her personality? This angelic girl had gently pulled his wounded heart into the magic of her love, soothed it and salved it with her selfless feelings, until it had healed from the hurt it had suffered.
A poem came to his mind as he looked across the park toward that house of memories:
Once in a lifetime
You may find someone special,
Your lives intermingle
And somehow you know,
That this is the beginning
Of all you have longed for,
A love you can build on,
. A love that will grow. . .
And he thought of that sunny afternoon in July, 1941, so vivid in his mind all these years
later, when he skidded his bike to a stop on the front walk of that familiar house, to be
with his friend, Wally, and was startled to see a red-headed beauty standing on the porch
at the top of the steps to the front door.
It amused him to think of himself as that awkward 17 year old, so suddenly befuddled and tongue-tied, as he stared at this change to his usual expectations. And as he looked, frozen in his tracks, this vision in the black dress spoke in a clear, pleasant voice and relieved his paralysis. “Hi”, she said, “I’m Chris, are you Yutch?” He nodded his head. “Wally’s gone to the store. He’ll be right back, but Aunt Bessie said you are to come in and have a glass of milk while you wait”, and she turned to open the screen door and enter the house.
He followed, looking down at the neatly combed, below-shoulder length and wavy, auburn hair as she went before him into the kitchen. Then, while Bessie gave him the milk, the captivating vision in the black dress disappeared. Bessie’s rich Scots accent said, “Sit at the table, Yutch. Wally will be here in a few minutes.” And then noticing his stunned look, she grinned and said, “Did Chris introduce herself? She’s my niece from Windsor, up
visiting us for a couple of weeks. She’s getting ready to go to the library.”
About that time, Wally came in the back door and Gene and he went out to throw the baseball around, and Gene didn’t have the nerve to ask Wally about Chris!
Wally, an adopted son of Bessie and George McLelland, was a natural athlete, well above the average in all sports. Gene also loved sports and did okay in them, but was not up to Wally’s level in most of them. Wally’s brother, Robbie, was one month younger than Gene, but they didn’t share many of the same interests. Although Wally was eighteen months older, he and Gene had “rapport”, and were long-time buddies. Wally was almost 19 years old, and had signed-up with a mobilizing, local Field Battery (Artillery), and would soon be off to basic training.