It's a heavy, wet, snowy morning here at Peekaboo at 4:00 am. It's that time if year, when the beautiful Fall colours gave way to incessant leaf raking, then we had a bit of summer back for a few days, and now, we're into the cold and white stuff. And with COVID19 happening, that in and of itself is a huge distraction. I hope and pray that all my family, friends and everyone, are okay and safe, and that the community spread stays low. We have 19 cases in Penetanguishene as of today but the virus is certainly all around us. Barrie, and the Alliston area (not to mention the hot spots of Toronto, Ottawa, Peel region) are climbing with schools becoming an issue. I don't think teenagers really get it yet, until they lose someone in their family. So we must all be vigilant with mask wearing, social distancing and keeping our circles small. And we need some luck. Another lockdown may be coming and it's all so hard. Almost like a bad dream really. But when we think it's so hard, that we have it so bad, (and I'm not saying its not bad!) but think back to what they had to endure in 1917-1919 when they had the killer, Spanish Flu hit the world just after the calamity of the First World War. They didn't have modern medicine, computers, the internet, Netflicks, iphones, etc. But everything is relative I know.
The weather has been terrible for morning pictures lately and that's been a good thing for writing Book 3 of my Hildegard series. I've made excellent progress these last few weeks and I've been really pushing hard, (as Sue can attest!) So much happened in the late 1970s and 1980s in the world. There is so much story to develop with twists and turns in Penetanguishene, Midland, Toronto, New Mexico, New York City, Ethiopia, Philadelphia, Gloucester-Ottawa, Moscow, Poland! Whew! Peter's life sure takes some turns! On the downside, that's the slow part about writing historical-fiction, there's so much history to research and weave into the story. And boy, with the virus and events of these last few years south of the border, Book 4 & 5 are sure going to be amazing, with a lot of stuff in them! The files I've created are burgeoning you can imagine!
So, I'm hoping to finish the first draft by the end of the year and then I'll be into editing. We'll truth be known, I've been editing, rewriting and rewriting as I go. It's hard not to. That does tend to slow down the process. Then I have to decide on the cover, title, (I'm tossing a few titles around in my head). At the moment I'm thinking Book 3 will be named, "Of Grace & Of Deception." I could change my mind as per the unprofessional mock-up you see here.
Death has been around a lot lately and I've heard of the passing of a few people around my age who I knew or went to school with. It makes one think. We are all finite. I hope and pray I'm allowed to finish this series. It seems that my life, my experiences and writing development has led up to this point in my life to be creating this series. It's not a series, more like a journey. I can't imagine God (nor Hildegard) were going to let me develop everything in my life and experiences, to get to this story, and not to allow me to finish it.
Through a NetGalley reading service I signed up for, reviews are coming in from around the world and I'm glad to say they've been overwhelmingly positive! My two friends Pat & Ken have read the first 250 pages and both feel Book 3 is the best of the series so far, saying there were some powerful, emotional moments in it. Us writers always need vindication and encouragement.
I think I'm still on track for a spring/summer release.
Today, I'm wishing my brother Alvin AND his wife Francie, my sister-in-law, a happy birthday. Vin lucked out that way, it was easy for him to never forget his wife's birthday. They share the same day.
Alvin worked as an Registered Nurse and later a nursing supervisor at the Penetanguishene Mental Health Center (now called Waypoint) for well over 30 years. As I worked there as well, I was always identified as "Vin's brother." And I constantly heard: "I loved working with him!" "I loved working for him!" "What a great guy!" "Vin was a great supervisor!" "Such a nice guy!" "Such a good staff!" "Great to work with!" Surely the greatest compliments one could receive. I was always proud of hearing that. My mom and dad would have been proud. I'm sure they are.
A great joke teller, he had the uncanny ability of hearing a joke once and remembering it. I can still picture our late brother Pat starting to laugh at a Vin joke even before Vin even started telling it. Pat just had to look at him, especially when he started into "Rindercella." My favourite Vin joke was the skit which he acted out, was of the drunk, smoking, 100 year-old-looking lady who in actuality was only 23. Vin was so funny that when the legendary fiddler, Cindy Thompson, saw him perform once at a BBQ, she asked Vin to perform for 15 minutes between her sets at a Kings Wharf Theatre Show. He was that funny.
And how often would Francie feed him the name of a joke or a song to keep him going with his large repertoire of both. She was the ying to his yang. Certainly the life of any party he was at, Vin could also belt out a country song. Mom loved Vin singing, "My woman, my woman, my wife" by Marty Robbins. Her eyes always sparkled with pride. He and Pat singing together, accompanied by our sister Anne on the piano, was priceless and them laughing together, ensured entertainment at many a Dupuis function.
As a big brother, he introduced me to chess and fishing. Once we were fishing in a small plywood boat while he had a cast on a broken leg. He caught a big pike and stopped its flopping around in the bottom of the boat by yes, clomping it with his leg cast. Plunk. Too funny! A good and natural curler, he organized many Penetang Curling Club fishing trips to Cognashene and for many years organized an informal men's softball night and got the town to clear the first field which is now Phil Marchildon Park. And yes, he can cook and make pie dough and bread like nobody's business. Not to be outdone, Fran is a great cook in her own right. He'll suggest something for supper and she'll quickly have it on the go. Like I said, ying and yang.
The father and mother of four, he and Fran have been blessed with fourteen grandchildren. It's a treat to see how much love their family have for both of them. Vin and Francie have needless to say done a lot of babysitting but with a lot of love given and even more received. Their grandchildren adore them. Its vice versa I know.
Vin's claim to fame was once being tripped on a breakaway by Parry Sound's own Bobby Orr in a minor hockey bantam game. The other day, I told Vin, who is not a Donald Trump fan, that his hockey idol and hero, Bobby Orr, had taken out a full page add in support of Trump for President. I could feel his disappointment. Sorry about that. Anyway, Happy Birthday big brother and sister-in-law! Here's to many more! Love ya! In tribute I'll fry up a can of Klik!
A few days ago, a woman in her eighties named Patty Milford, passed away quietly in Florida as a result of the horrible virus, COVID19. She was no ordinary lady. To me and her family, she was a legend. To those who know the hockey world of the 1950s and 60s, they would recognize her name as Sawchuk, Pat Sawchuk, the wife of the legendary goalie, Terry Sawchuk. She would be part of his legend.
I first met Pat in the summer of 1996. Obtaining the blessing of the Sawchuk family to tell 'the real story' of Terry Sawchuk, she flew up from Florida to her son Jerry's house in Michigan where I would be interviewing her over a few days. Many dozens of more notable writers had tried before me to obtain permission, to get the "inside" Terry story, but all had been rebuffed. I was fortunate to connect with the late close family friend and Terry's best friend and teammate, Hall of Fame defenceman, Marcel Pronovost. "If Marcel trusts you, the Sawchuk family trusts you!" is what Jerry had told me as the reason for my go-ahead. I was forever indebted to Marcel and he and I grew close.
From the moment I met her, Pat put me completely at ease. We had an instant rapport. She was so friendly, down to earth and hip! We laughed, she cried a lot, we paused quite a few times--I handed her a lot of Kleenex. The memories, the wounds of living with Terry still fresh in her mind twenty-six years after his death at that time. She was the protector of her children from him. Still through it all, she loved him in many ways and her fierce pride in his hockey accomplishments shone through! "Don't anybody mess with the hockey career of Terry Sawchuk or you'll have eight Sawchuks after you!" she said laughing but yet deadly serious!
She knew Terry like no other and she also knew his physical pain and his inner demons. Our chats and the book, SAWCHUK: The Troubles and Triumphs of the World's Greatest Goalie, would be a cathartic experience for her and her seven children. She let me tell it, "warts and all!" Her reason for participating in the writing of the book resonates still.
"You know, it is truly tough to be married to someone in the spotlight, whether it be sports or entertainment," she said. "I wish in my heart of hearts, that I could take all of the bad memories and the hurt our kids have and are still going through. I wish I could make it disappear! If this book can help one person to get help, to live a normal life without abuse, and spare their loved ones the agony of watching someone you love destroy himself or herself, and everyone around him or her, to save their children, then I know Terry would truly be happy knowing this. He would give this story his blessing."
She said from day one, "I wonder who will play me in the movie?" She knew this story would just have to make it to a big or small screen one day. There was just no sports story like it. Ever. When the recent movie "Goalie" was made, I warned her that the movie was not really true to "our story", that it was more about a Sawchuk poem book, that the producers had not really taken any of my script recommendations and had a small budget. After viewing it, she called me and only said, "I know it wasn't your fault dear!" Totally forgiving and understanding.
By the time we had met in 1996, she had remarried, was a very happy, and devoted wife, mother and grandmother. We stayed in touch over the years by phone and she was forever commenting on my daily Facebook sunrise pictures and our continued friendship. Every note or conversation ended with "love you dear." I returned the sentiment because to know Pat (Sawchuk) Milford was to love her. She was just that special.
She was the Matriarch of her family and much, much loved. Though I'm sure they're all feeling her loss deeply, her memory and influence will live on. A legendary figure in her own right, I'm sure Pat will one day reappear on the big screen with Terry in a newer production, saying something like, "Oh for God sakes Terry, smarten the hell up!" Telling him like it was! Oh yeah. I look forward to that.
In the meantime, sleep well Pat! You're earned it.