Sunday, July 01, 2007

John McAdam

I used to have a friend. His name was Jack. He was my pal. Today would have been his 101st birthday. He used to always say how nice it was that the whole country threw him such a big party every year. I always think of Jack a lot on his birthday. I miss him.

I met Jack at the Royal Canadian Legion in North Burnaby, around 1985-86. I played on the dart team, he played on the cribbage team. He came up to me one day and asked "would you like to see a picture of me when I was 21?". Cheeky, I thought, but OK. He pulled out an old photo of himself in full Seaforth Highlander Regalia, including a bearskin hat like the Queen's guards wear. We became fast buds. Turned out he lived in a BC Housing complex just around the corner from our place, so I would walk over and visit him at least once a week. He'd make me a cup of tea (good STRONG tea, too .... not "piss-willie" as he called it), sometimes we'd play crib, we'd watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. If it was a Wednesday we'd also watch the 649 draw and I'd check his ticket for him.

We invited him over for New Year's Eve a couple of times and he'd get so excited at midnight, running down the stairs and outside to ring the doorbell like crazy. He said it was good luck. I felt that he was such a special person in my life that we invited him to our wedding. We lived in Burnaby, but the wedding was in Victoria (my Mom was unable to travel). Because I couldn't watch over Jack the whole time, Art's brother Darcy latched onto him. It worked out great. Jack was one of the few people outside the family to be invited. In my eyes, he was family. When I showed him pictures afterwards he said "God....I look like a little old man!". I said "Jack, you ARE a little old man", to which he humbly replied "oh ya....I forgot". He was so young at heart and full of life that we all forgot his age.

There was one event in our time together that was extra super special. Prince Philip was coming to Vancouver to inspect the Seaforth Highlanders. Jack asked me to escort him. What an honour! I didn't meet HRH, but Jack did. Even shook his hand. We had been warned to not bring a camera, but once we were there people were whipping them out left right and centre. What a disappointment because I'd had the perfect shot of the two of them. Art made up for it by taking some pictures of us back at the house. I'd never seen Jack looking so proud.

I never met any of Jack's family, but when he died and we were at his funeral, I noticed that the picture of him at the front of the room was one that Art took that special day. People were asking about the picture, as no one knew where it came from. They were also curious who I was because no one knew me, but Jack had my picture all over his apartment. So I told the story. His family appreciated it.

So, I've got to dig out those pictures and scan them. I'm not sure why I felt so compelled to write about Jack today. Maybe because it's his 101st birthday.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful 'real life' story, it's those special people that come into our lives that make this life so wonderful - aren't we lucky!
Love e

My Little Corner said...

Wow! what a wonderful story, and a wonderful man. Thanks for sharing. It's so lovely to hear about him. So sorry he's not here