It was cold and damp on the streets of Victoria shortly after midnight on Thursday, April 10, 1995. In the car, a 12-year-old boy, Nicholas, listened quietly as his father explained why they were making a sudden return to the Hospice they had left little more than an hour earlier after a long evening visit with his mother, Candide.
We had just returned home, and I was sitting on his bed before tucking him in when the phone rang. The Hospice: If we wanted to say goodbye, the time was now. He dressed quickly. I explained that earlier in the day when we were visiting, his mother was very tired, had been sleeping in a “coma.”
And may still be asleep. “I’m going to drop you at the main entrance. You know which room Mum is in. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I park the car. You just sit and talk to Mum. She may not answer, but she will know you are there.”
He was talking about school when I got there a few minutes later. I think she knew.
This is the first time I have written about Candide’s final struggle since it happened. I don’t know why, other than the grief as we passed through that time that strengthened all of us – five sons from my first marriage and Nic, who inherited many of his mother’s attributes. Oldest son Stephen delivered Candide’s funeral oration. In it, he mentioned his youngest brother’s inheritance of strength and courage from his mother.
Some years ago, after two years of travelling the world, Nic returned to earn a postponed degree from the University of Victoria. He then joined BC’s Emergency Health Services and its well-trained army of paramedics in which he serves as a Primary Care Paramedic with other front line first responders – where courage is a standard requirement. For good measure, he also serves with St. John Ambulance as a Provincial Staff Officer attached to 176 Division, Victoria.
And, on Friday, April 10, barring unforeseen circumstances, he would be visiting his mother’s grave at Royal Oak to make sure everything is tidy, in good shape, and the flowers are fresh. Normally, I would be with him, but lock-downs and other restrictions have confined me to barracks. But I’ll be with him, in moral support, doing the little things that keep family strong.
Readers wondering how Nicholas felt and what he remembers about April 1995 will find a remarkable recollection on his Facebook page. I mean – remarkable.