An Email from An Old Dear Friend; Grandpa Dryburgh’s 130th Birthday; and a Serious Story

I received an email from a dear friend who has been in my life for about fifty years. He wrote: “You get wittier and wittier as time goes by. Don’t lose your humor and quick wit. That’s who our Alexis is.” He also said many other sweet things but to repeat them would be ‘tooting my own horn’ – whatever that expression may mean. (Upon reflection the expression means bragging.)
Behavior, about to be revealed, will come as no surprise to the many who know me well. Tell me you love my wit and then I become serious. That is my intent as I begin this blog. 
Cousin Faye emailed the Niece’s Nexus yesterday to inform us that June 1, 2017 was the occasion of Grandpa Dryburgh’s 130th birthday. Grandpa Dryburgh, actually dead, is Dave Dryburgh’s father. It sparked a story which will form a chapter in the book. At the moment it is called “Incidental Hero”. The son, Dave Dryburgh, is the intentional hero of the book but then there came the realization: Grandpa’s sheer bravery, persistence and dedication to his family of eight boys made it all possible. Grandpa Dryburgh travelled from Scotland to Saskatchewan not once, but twice. At the outbreak of WWI George, wife Janet and their two sons went back to Scotland where they remained until 1920. Grandpa Dryburgh joined a Scottish regiment and survived the war. Thank goodness for that, my father was not born until 1921. If Grandpa did not survive the war I would not be around. The last two sentence formed a short lesson on the ‘birds and the bees’.
The other day at lunch Jay and I were having a big discussion. He is so young but so wise and we talk about big things, joke occasionally, but have very serious discussions. I did make some notes. I am trying to bring a notebook with me at all times to end the collection of napkins inked with messages. We were talking about families and the unfortunate truth that one’s kin can prove very disappointing. Jay said: A nuclear family is a family by blood.” So true, the relationship often cannot be described by words such as by kinship, consanguinity, or ties. It is just blood. We were talking about family and somehow in the midst of the conversation I came to a truth. One that set me free. I have no idea why it suddenly came to me, on May 31, 2017 while talking with Jay, but it magically it arrived.   
Uncle Dave, the subject of my biography, drowned when I was five. I have no memory of meeting him and have been resentful of the fact that it appears that he was not a part of my early life. I lived in Regina, he lived in Regina. He took cousin Wayne to a hockey game, it was just because I was a girl, I reasoned. But somehow talking to Jay I remembered the real truth. I was very new to Regina on that fateful day in July 1948. I then wrote this story which will be included in the book. It is in the form of an email which I will send to my cousins. 
I came to this truth yesterday, this sudden realization. I was talking to Jay, a young man employed by the Trump International Hotel. I suddenly realized that Uncle Dave did not necessarily ignore me for the first five years of my life, the only five that he and I spent on this earth together. I had in my mind that I lived in Regina all of those years from 1943-1948. But, of course, I did not. I lived only briefly in Regina when my mother and I lived with Grandpa Dryburgh on Montague Street. But then we went to live in Pennant Saskatchewan, then in Woodstock Ontario, then back to Pennant, Saskatchewan. Aki Dryburgh returned from overseas at the conclusion of WWII, probably in December of 1945 or maybe 1946; but then the three of us, Mom, Dad and yours truly lived in Pennant with Grandmother and Grandfather Pirie for quite some time. Aki Dryburgh worked with Grandfather Pirie in the construction business. The three of us went to live in Regina at some point. I do recall the day of Uncle Dave’s funeral that we were living in Regina, in the ‘huts’ which were formerly barracks but had been converted to housing for Army veterans. I recall that I did not go to the funeral but that it was broadcast on the radio. Perhaps I can confirm the fact of the radio broadcast when I go to Regina next month. But I don’t think we had been living in the huts for very long as I try to piece together the shards from my hazy past. 
It is an enormous relief to me. It is not as if Uncle Dave ignored me, mostly I was not around. I was barely five when he died – my birthday at the end of May, his death in July. It does put things in a whole different light. I realize as I painstakingly research his life that he was so busy with his work and attending sporting events. The three of us were probably shut off from the rest of the family, such as it was. Most certainly holidays were spent with my mother’s family – the Piries.
I had been feeling so neglected by him, angry at him actually. for not being a part of my life. But not so now. He had a life that did not include me, but that was not his fault. It was not my fault either. Perhaps if I were a boy he might have been in my life a little more, but not necessarily. I am finally at peace with it, this overcast day in the year 2017. 
So that was the email I penned in pdf form. But before sending it to the others I did reach out to Carol-Ann, a cousin with a gift. She was so reassuring. She wrote: “Hey you. My feeling is that he didn’t ignore or involve you simply because he didn’t know you and as you were just a little kid and he a busy man, you didn’t factor in. Boy child or girl, you were a child and at that time sports and work in general were the focus. I seem to sense he was aware of you but had all the time in the world to get to know you later when you were old enough to be interesting. None of that is intended to be hurtful. Simply factual.” 
So most of you reading this blog are wondering how she knows all of that. I fear you will have to buy the book to find out. But first I have to finish writing it. 
The quote of the day from Triple S’s birthday book was penned by William Goldman. It is appropriate because death is figuring large in this blog. “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.” 

Grandpa and Grandma Dryburgh pictured on the steps of their Regina, Saskatchewan home

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