Patience Is A Virtue — And A Necessity

“Get away from technology for awhile!” my daughter exclaimed, as, for the third time in as many days, I railed at the issues I was having with my website, which I had been trying to update, and my printer, which really is a dud.

Technology. Lately, it has been both a lifesaver and a pain in the nice word for ass. But is it the technology that’s driving us bats or are we doing it to ourselves? These days, the slightest bump in the road can lead to rage. Newspapers, TVs, tweets and Facebook feeds have been filled with posts telling us to take care of our mental health for good reason. At this time, when we are literally at the end of our rope, the thing we need most is the thing we seem to have the least of. Patience.

My mother was the epitome of patience. And strength. Nothing phased her. This week, she would have marked her 100th birthday. She was born on May 6th 1920, two years after the Spanish flu ravaged the globe. Her early life was poor, growing up in a large family in a little fishing village in Denmark. When she was older, she started cleaning houses, and one of the houses she cleaned belonged to a doctor. He encouraged her to study to become a nurse, which she did. She was working as a nurse in a mental hospital in Copenhagen when the Germans invaded her country, so she joined the Danish Resistance. I have no idea what horrors she may have witnessed during that time. Then, on May 4th, 1945, the Germans finally ended their occupation, and since then, every year on that date, the Danes put lighted candles in their windows to commemorate it. This year marks the 75th anniversary of their liberation, along with the rest of Europe.

A few years after that war, my mother joined the Danish Red Cross and spent a year on the Danish hospital ship, Jutlandia, which was stationed in Pusan during the Korean War. When that tour ended, she immigrated to Canada, met and married my father and had me, her only child. She died of cancer at the young age of 52. An amazingly full, but sadly short, life.

I’ve thought about her, and my father, a lot in the last couple of months. Everything they endured in their lifetimes. Me, I grew up in a Leave It To Beaver neighbourhood, with everything I needed. Never did I go without food or clothes, even when times were a little tight. The scariest thing I ever lived through was Typhoon Freda, here on the west coast when I was 5 years old. But to be honest, I don’t even remember it.

The only diseases we endured were mumps and measles. I had both. At the same time.

There were the occasions in school in the early 60’s when we were taught to hide under our desks, practicing to protect ourselves in the event of an atomic bomb. Come to think of it now, hiding under a desk wouldn’t have helped us much.

The only thing that actually shook us up was the occasional earthquake. I’ve never heard a bomb explode, or a machine gun rattle, never had to hide in a shelter or go without the basic necessities. I’ve had a very, very good life.

So I think I can deal with pain in the ass technology for the time being. I’m sure I will be able to adapt to whatever changes have to take place in our world after this pandemic. I can find a little more patience, even if it’s somewhere at the bottom of the barrel, to hang in there a bit longer. If my mother could live through all that she did, I have nothing to complain about.

Happy 100th Birthday Mama. Jeg elsker dig.

My mother Fanny, toasting Kai Hammerich,
the captain of the Jutlandia, during the Korean War.

IJ

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