If you found yourself at an HSR bus stop downtown perhaps six weeks ago and observed the elderly lady who had slipped to the sidewalk and was pleading for anyone either at the stop or passing by to assist her, perhaps help her to her feet, I don’t know who you are, but I do know what you are. So do you. Let me introduce you to the elderly lady. She is the 89 year old widow of a Canadian soldier. A Canadian soldier from World War II. As a young man this Canadian soldier was, on June 6, 1944, at a beach in Normandy, France, named JUNO. It was D-Day and this young Canadian soldier was wracked with fear.
Who wouldn’t be? What he experienced was literally hell on earth. He and his comrades struggled ashore, facing murderous barrages of withering fire from German forces on the cliffs above. This Canadian soldier shared his JUNO Beach experience with me. He spoke of seeing friends fall either gruesomely wounded, or in his words sometimes “mercifully dead.” His war ended only when allied forces, he among them, crossed into Germany and put an end to the malevolence of Corporal Hitler.
I met the Canadian JUNO Beach soldier during a CHML Remembrance Day broadcast at the Hamilton cenotaph. He was a proud man, then in his 70’s. He and I became friends, my surrogate dad we’d joke. My wife and I were introduced to his vibrant, always cheerful bride and we spent enjoyable time in their company. We heard the story of the Ontario boy meeting the Francophone Quebec girl who would become the love of his life and how post-war they travelled and worked their way across several Canadian provinces. Six years ago the D-Day veteran passed away. It hasn’t been easy for his widow. The economy has struggled, resources are limited and largely politicians at the federal and provincial levels aren’t interested in providing support for the dwindling numbers of aging military veterans commensurate to their contributions to Canada.
Our friend’s widow, my wife and I talk often. She doesn’t complain and makes life as comfortable as her limited means and life in a small dwelling she shared for years with her husband will allow. Her health has become more challenging of late and approximately six weeks ago, feeling increasingly unwell, she decided to take the bus to hospital. It was at the HSR stop that she began feeling too unsteady to even stand and so slipped to the sidewalk, asking only of others at the stop, of those walking by to help her to her feet again. No one budged. One passer-by actually stepped over her.
Eventually, a good Samaritan, a college professor she told us, did what the others should have. He helped the widow to her feet, assisted her to a nearby bench and called 911. The care my D-Day friend’s widow received from paramedics and hospital staff was wonderful she told us. Her heat rate had been rapidly elevated and her blood pressure was significantly high. She is on medication and hopefully on the way to recovery. Not that those of you who ignored the small and distressed 89 year old woman lying on a Hamilton sidewalk would care.
By: Roy Green