C. and her Father

I’ve known C. for several years now but have almost lost touch since she moved away to the prairies.  I e-mailed her recently to let her know a mutual friend was getting married.

She had been a camp counsellor as a teen and once showed me a popular camp trick.  If you hold a broom in your arms, stare up at the tip and turn around fast several times, then you can drop the broom, careen dizzily around and fall to the floor in a fun way.   If you are in your fourties, the ground comes up fast.

C.’s father was a US Marine and had fought in the Korean War, where he had seen hand-to-hand fighting.  When American troops advanced over the 38th parallel in Korea, the Chinese army, which had amassed there, attacked and fought them in brutal winter conditions.

C. studied Japanese and Chinese in university, became fluent and, for a while, worked leading tours of China.  She once met the father of a Chinese friend.  The man had been in the Chinese army and fought against American troops in Korea.  “Please greet your father for me.”  he told her.

C’s father died of cancer when she was about thirty.  Her father was a mechanic and owned a garage in their small town.  He was also a member of the volunteer fire department and in this capacity he was asked, or volunteered,  to drive up into the hills behind their town and recover the body of a young man who had committed suicide.    C. went with him.  It was wintertime and they found the body in the snow – it was frozen.  The young man had shot himself with a gun.  She helped her father load the corpse into the back seat of their vehicle and they drove back into town.  I was taken aback by this story and asked C. if she wasn’t traumatized by the experience.

 “No.” she said, “My father had always done the hard jobs – and I knew I could do them too.”

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