The men in my life have been many and varied. I have had encounters and liaisons;
lovers and friends (which if you're really lucky are the same people), proposals and propositions. Timing is of
the essence, I believe. Perhaps if I tell you about some of the men in my life, you'll see what I mean.
If I start at the beginning, there was Ed of the Pictou boys. When I went to Keltic to work,
they all came down to visit me. When I came back home, pregnant and miserable after Bill's death, the Pictou boys came enmasse to
offer their condolences. In fact, Mum told me they used to stop by every once
in a while, even when I was living in Halifax, to see her. They were really nice fellows!
When I moved to Halifax, Ed came courting and when I went home to Stellarton for the weekends, he would
be there, quietly sitting in the living room, helping my brothers build models of things.
He had decided he wanted to go into the RCMP but for some reason I can't remember now, they turned him down.
He was quietly devastated. Ed was a very quiet man who didn't often express his emotions verbally. I was just beginning my
adventures in life, while he was ready to get married, have a family, and settle down. In Halifax I was meeting
a variety of different, interesting people. Ed was still in Pictou, starting a teaching job as an alternative to
his dreams of the RCMP - our lives were moving far apart. When he asked me to marry him, I knew it meant
moving back to what I was trying to get away from: small town life and the sameness of the lives I saw around me.
I could picture myself years down the road with a flock of kids, standing in a country kitchen in an apron and it
didn't appeal to me. Timing.
In 1983 when Laurie and I took our trip back to Nova Scotia, we stopped in Pictou for lunch one afternoon.
I had told her about Ed and as we were sitting at a table in a little restaurant along the main street, watching
the rain splash on the windows, I wondered aloud if he was still around. "I could look him
up in the phone book, couldn't I? He's probably still teaching school here...I think I heard he married
and had a pile of kids". She just looked at me and said, "Do you think that's a good idea, Mom?" So I let the
moment pass, pretty much in the same way I had 20 plus years before. Timing.
In "those days", dating was what you did. It was the norm to date any number of different people at the same time
(not necessarily in the same night, although that did occasionally happen).
When Laurie was in her teens, I encouraged her to see a variety of boys and she told me "that's not
the way it's done anymore, Mom." "Pity", said I.
While Ed was getting up the courage to ask me to marry him, I had already met Terry the Accountant,
Ed Dunn, the Irish Engineer who was working on a re-fit of the icebreaker, Sir John A. MacDonald,
and Barry, a medical officer on the Bonaventure. I had also met any number of nice sailors, including
some Russians who were in Halifax for the summer.
Ed Dunn was quite a few years older than I was and turned out to be an alcoholic. He had all the
typical charm of the Irish, wined and dined me royally (including tours through the icebreaker).
He invited me back to Dublin to meet his family, at his expense and I actually had
my ticket and was headed for the airport, when I received word that Jean had died, so
I went back to Stellarton and never did get to see Dublin.
I grew up a bit while I was dating Ed Dunn.He used to take me to "underground" jazz and blues places
that I would have never known existed. If you ordered "chinese tea", you got raw whiskey in a chinese teapot...Urgh!
Towards the end of that experience, he used to pick fights with strangers: he would walk up to
a total stranger in a restaurant and say, "I heard what you said about my wife!" and then slug
the poor, innocent fellow in the face. I tried to tell him he had a big problem and to get him to go for "counselling" but
he just laughed at me and called me a "poor wee bairn". The one good thing that came
out of that encounter was that I met some really interesting musicians and
in due course, got a weekend job singing blues in one of those smokey underground joints.
[that's another story.
Barry was my second "serious" (dare I use the word) relationship. I met him at the singles dances
that were held on the Arm and we started dating. He was a medical officer on the navy ship, "Bonaventure"
and in the course of our time together, I met the Captain at the time and went to parties onboard ship.
I have to admit in all honesty that a lot of the appeal was in the fact that he was an officer.
I simply loved the ships and the waterfront and being "piped" on-board, wearing silly high-heels and
floaty little dresses. It was like living in my very own musical comedy.....and I was still hooked on
that scenario. We would drive to Peggy's Cove and wander along the rocks on sunny Sunday afternoons. It was
all very romantic.
The downside was that Barry was very jealous. He was jealous of my job, my girlfriends, and any male friendships I
had developed. His father was an alcoholic and so Barry wouldn't even set foot in an establishment
that served liquor - which I thought was carrying it a bit far, since he wouldn't even come with me to the
wonderful parties that the radio station had. Nope, if there was going to be liquor served, he wasn't going.
I used to say, "It's not like they'll hold you down bodily and force you to drink, you know!". And he didn't
want me to go, either. Just a little note here: I was squeaky clean in those days: I didn't drink or smoke
and sex was something for "after we're married". But I wasn't very pliable and went to
the station parties with groups of other friends, anyway.
He came home with me on many weekends and my family really liked him. But the end was in sight.
There was a young fellow working nights at the station who
had been evicted from his apartment. By this time, I had a place of my own (I'll tell you about that later, cause
I loved that apartment!) so I told him he could sleep at my place during the day until he found a new place
of his own. After all, he'd be gone to work by the time I got home. Barry had been away while
the Bonny was in refit and he came back unexpectedly one day, let himself into my apartment,
and found Donny. No explanation would suffice. He was angry and hurt and wouldn't listen to a thing I said.
So instead of marrying him (as we had been discussing), I told him I couldn't possibly
continue seeing anyone who was that unreasonable. Within the year, my friends told me
he had married a nurse. Talk about narrow escapes.
Shoot! I almost forgot about the twins, Don and Al Roop. I met and thought I was dating Don. After a
few times of going out, I was convinced he either had a terrible memory problem or was a schizophrenic. I'd
say something about what we'd been doing or talking about the last time I saw him and he'd look vague and blank and
make some noncommittal noise. We'd go to see a movie and a week later, he'd ask if I wanted to see it. It was quite
a while before I discovered what was going on. One afternoon, I happened to be going past his house and decided
to drop in to see his Mom. I'd been there before with Don and she was happy to see me, invited me in. Sitting
in the rec room were two Don's! His brother Al was a dead ringer, although when you saw them standing side-by-side,
there were tiny differences, almost invisible to the naked eye. Turned out that if Don had something else he needed to do,
Al would come by and pretend to be Don. It wasn't any big romance but two of them was one too many for even me.
I was a bit more wary (I thought) by the time I met Bill. He was a freelance photographer, his
home in Boston, and his photos
(mostly scenery) were in a lot of the "best" magazines. I
met him while he was being interviewed at the radio station. We hit it off right away, in spite
of the fact that I didn't know a lens from a piece of chewing gum. He was tall and fair and funny.
He also travelled a lot and told wonderful stories of the places he'd been, the things he'd seen
and the people he knew. We became engaged to be married; we were sure it was something that would last forever: I
would quit my job and travel with him. In retrospect, I guess I was still living in that musical comedy
fantasy world I had created in my own head.
Every few weeks he went back to Boston to catch up on his paper work and see his Mother (the only
family he had). One summer afternoon in June, I had a phone call from a police officer in the States. They'd
found my name and address in his personal effects. His little red sports car had gone off the road,
rolled over and burst into flames. They said he died instantly. I went home to Mum and the boys and some months later, Laurie was born.
There have been others through the years. The Swedish fellow who was a postdoctoral
visitor while I was at the National Research Council; he wanted to take Laurie and me back to Sweden
with him - marriage wasn't mentioned. Since I was the chief cook and bottlewasher and
support for our family, it seemed rather a selfish proposition. There were any number of men who thought they would "rescue" me by
marrying me and providing a father for Laurie. How strange that so few really knew me if they thought
I would just marry someone for security, without loving them. Or that I could simply
walk away from the obligations that had been strewn in my path. Timing is
an important element in the patterns of your life.
I have never had any regrets for things I've done - and only a fleeting
few for things I didn't do.