Faithful readers will know that I am struggling, struggling to complete a biography of Dave Dryburgh, my paternal uncle who lived and worked as a sports writer in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was born in Scotland in 1908 and died in Saskatchewan in 1948 – he did not live to celebrate his fortieth birthday. I was five in 1948 but I do not remember meeting him and there is no one to ask. All who knew him well are dead – or in the case of Aki – unreliable and demented.
Many things have gotten in the way of the completion of this book. There was a dreadful London school programme, impossible living situations, a man or two, and, I fear, this blog. But yesterday morning I gritted my teeth and said:
Me: You have got to do this Alexis. The decision to begin at the end in the manner of Stuart: A Life Backward is brilliant (i I do say so myself) but get on it.
Alter Ego: I agree. May I suggest that you vary your writing style?
Me: Of course! But in what manner?
Alter Ego: Try using a pen and paper, rather than a computer.
Me: Great Idea. That way when I reduce it to the typewritten word it will be the first edit.
Alter Ego: Go find the paper and a pen and get to work!
So here it is. Here are the results of my efforts. I have read it aloud to Hottie and to B.T.I.C.
They were impressed and called the writing powerful.
Date: July 1, 2017
Place: Canada Place. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Occasion: Canada’s 150th Birthday
These moments were the happiest of my life – a life that has spanned seventy-four years. I was celebrating with hundreds of other proud Canadians – celebrating the existence, (against all odds) the existence of this precious country. I was not only dressed to kill, decked out in red and white, the colors of the flag and hence the country, but I had an added accessory – my face. An extremely stylish red and white hat, a red Canada Birthday T-shirt worn under a red flared jacket worn with white leggings. There were white pearls, a choker and a long strand roped around the neck three times. I carried a quilted bag emblazoned by a maple leaf. My mother, who called herself the Bag Lady, had stitched it and hundreds more. But the greatest accessory of all was my face. I awoke and carefully applied red and white face paint. A stripe of red along the perimeter of my face, white over the cheeks and face. But the piece de resistance was the maple leaf positioned over my nose. Although not know for my art it was a fine job and was not that difficult to maneuver
I dutifully took a selfie and sent it off to thirty-seven year old multibillionaire Joo Kim Tiah. We were in correspondence at the time. A couple of days later he responded sweetly by email: “How patriotic!”
I emerged from my room (eerily 1908), got into the elevator and met with my new friend Cecilia and we went on a short walk to Canada Place. Cecilia was born in Hong Kong. I, in Saskatchewan but had been absent from this land for fifty years. Cecilia, in her usual fashion, was armed with her iPhone and thankfully recorded our festivities for posterity.
I told everyone we encountered of my return and all manner of people joined in my joy. They welcomed me with open arms: “Welcome Back!” almost always accompanied by a hug. Eighty-two people asked to have their pictures taken with me (I counted). There was music at various venues near Canada Place, inside an exhibit of Canadian accomplishments and photographs of Canadian people of fame and renown.
I was finally home and I knew, with all of my heart, that I owed this to Uncle Dave – Dave Dryburgh, the subject of this biography. He was a man actually unknown to me. I made strident attempts to know him. There was research that spanned two and a half years, freezing in Ottawa at the National Archives, a myriad of trips to the British Library in London, a trip to the Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton Ontario which houses the Dave Dryburgh trophy and honors him as a reporter. I wailed the walk; traveling to his birthplace in Kirkcaldy, Scotland searching through a skiff
of snow in Regina to find his grave in Regina, Saskatchewan. I had miraculously found the grave of his maternal grandfather, Robert Baxter, in West Wymess on the coast of Scotland. (Wymess rhymes with dreams in Scottish pronunciation) Much research was done in the privacy of my temporary homes, and often in bed. I write and research in bed, propped up on pillows. I had done an admirable job but, n the end? I laughingly emailed to cousin Faye’s husband Larry. “I made him up, come to think of it, i know nothing of the man. He is a fiction.” I know nothing and I know everything.
One of the beginning chapters will be the first discovery of Uncle Dave. The discovery took place in Kentfield, California. Kentfield is in Marin County where I had lived and worked for forty-three years.
At this moment I stopped to call Cousin Gail who lives in Coquitlam. I wanted to say: “I deserve the medal of honour, I have finally started the Introduction to the book.” The phone rings five times, bur contrary to usual practices she is not there. I leave a message for her.
Me: “Would you not know? I do not believe this! I am finally writing this damn book. I say to myself that I will call Gail but you are not there for once. What is this? This book is doomed!”
Cousin Gail and I chat almost everyday She has been instrumental in the whole process, actually vital to the whole process. Of all of the Dryburghs in the earth and sky I am closest to her. Closer to her than my nuclear family members even though Gail and I met only six years ago. The Dryburghs would not be classified as a close clan, as you will learn. Gail and I, are diametrically different from one another. We are the same age. Her father was George, the fourth son of Janet and George Dryburgh; my father, Aki was the seventh son. Uncle Dave was the eldest of eight sons, all are dead save Aki who is ninety-six and apparently demented.
That is all that is written so far. No, that is not exactly true as I gaze at a stack of printed words. I intend to publish this as an E book for reasons that I will explain in detail later. But seeing it in print is necessary for editing. The main task now is to integrate those words with my writing in the here and now. But finally it has begun in earnest.
I shall find a picture of me in all my painted glory and attach it to this blog.