It was with some apprehension that I approached the War Cemetery in Bari. This was the end of a long promised journey. Such a peaceful place, so many headstones, all these young men, what a waste. Theresa and I searched for Arthur’s grave, pausing to read the inscriptions, over 2000 in all, and suddenly there it was beside his friend Jack Holt. They both died together in Sicily in April 1944. As I knelt beside my father’s grave, such mixed emotions, the regret at not knowing him, the desire to find out all about him, the need to make sure his sacrifice was not forgotten. I thought of the words spoken at a remembrance ceremony attended by my mother and recorded by her.
“They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”
When Theresa and I visited Canada I was excited about meeting my Dodson aunts and cousins who I had not seen for many years. We were not disappointed as everyone made us so welcome. I sat with Margery on the settee as we explored the Dodson history over three days. Her memory of childhood events and wartime experiences and romances was as sharp as a pin. Arlene provided some great family fotos and showed us some new tricks in a wheelchair. Our stay with Jaqueline was delightful and when she produced the Robinson/Richardson family bible which yielded so many facts about Mabel Robinson’s family I was astounded. I never knew it existed and the old photos were a bonus. Reminiscing with Robert and Muriel about the war years, their romance and marriage was so interesting and I really appreciated receiving my father Arthur’s wallet from Muriel. And finally a visit to Anita who was so welcoming to her home on Vancouver Island and more fotos for the family tree.
Let us not leave it so long again.