A poem written by my sister Julie Wilson as her tribute to our Father at his funeral.
The Navy Man
A sailors saying came true,
Red sky by morning,
Sailors take warning!
WW2 is declared.
It was 1942. A young man who was called Jack, (fondly by his mother), a mere 19 years old, enlists in the Canadian Navy. He was a typical 19 yr old. Fully thinking himself to be a grown man, but he had not get reached his physical prime. That he would do while he would be on board a Navy ship, fighting for the free world.
12 crossings of the Atlantic.
Guarding merchant vessels.
Firing depth charges.
Chasing down subs.
Chipping off ice that clung to the vessel, to keep her afloat.
Cold wet ocean spray beating against the face.
Getting knocked down on the deck from a rogue wave, spilling his mates dinners.
Hoping that every time the ship was cast sideways that she would right herself again. (She always did.) Good ole girl! The corvette, A most seaworthy vessel. A pride of every captain. She may have been small, but she was fierce.
Every depth charge would make the ship shake and shudder at the end of a heavy combat, she would limp back into harbor. Get into drydock. Get repaired. It was in this setting, The boy became a man.
Jack, who was now called "tug" (fondly by his shipmates.),was on a journey that shapes a man.
It instils good character, an iron will, a steadfastness.
Honour, respect and a love for life.
It was in this setting that he met his first love.
Then, The war was over. And his first child was born. A son. What a pride and joy! And he was called Jack, (fondly by his wife) and Dad by his son.
Now The time came to be come a leader.
Tug, who was now called "Sir", (respectfully by those under him,) became an officer. This now too this will shape him. Manners, etiquette, gentlemanly behavior. Tactics, leadership, navigating the waters. Chain of command. Bigger vessels, practicing maneuvers, sea trials, endless training ops. The man matures.
Then all too soon, Going to sea days are over. On to the mainland.
Three daughters are born. This journey also shapes a man. He learns love, partiality, innovation, humility, forgiveness.
Running the home like a ship, not quite the same.
A different way of life. Yet all the character traits remain.
The man now called Jack (fondly by his wife) and Dad by his children. Navigate their lives together. Sometimes on calm waters, Sometimes over rough seas. Always staying afloat.
Then family life as he knows it, changes The kids have grown up and moved out on their own. One has joined the Military now too! A return to Cornwallis for the graduation drums up a lot of memories for he man of his own training there.
And as her career changes course, donning his formal navy uniform once more, he attends the RCMP graduation of his youngest daughter. Her heart swells to see her handsome Dad in his finest Navy attire. Adorned with his war medals. That's MY Dad she thinks. Never so proud of him.
Then There were then Many years of navigating the Bonnie 2, untold adventures with his best shipmate,... Then sadly her passing......
The end of an era.
Onto bachelorhood once again.
Chip that ice off!
keep your iron will.
Limp back to safe Harbour. Get into drydock. Get repairs.
The man who is now called Papa. (Fondly by his grandchildren) Full of love for for all his kin. Summer time barbecues, golf tournaments, loving and doting daughters, beautiful grand and great grandchildren. . Handsome son in laws and daughter in laws.
It is in this setting, He meets his new love. And he is called "Jack" again. (Fondly by his wife) He is Now able to lavish on her all of his good qualities learned over all these years. They turned into; Friendship Companionship Courtship Relationship Partnership Fellowship A fully mature "loveship."
It was however to be the last part of his journey. Then came some hardship. And the years had caught up with his body. He was not able to right himself.
It was in this setting that, he passed away peacefully and went to heaven.
And Jack was now called "my Son" (fondly by His Lord and Saviour. )
And The sailors saying came true. "Red sky at night. Sailors delight. "
And now a navy farewell.
Weigh the anchor Dad
Set sail for sea.
Your new journey is,
© Julie Feilberg (poem) © Dyanne Wilson (photo)