Even in illness, there are moments of clarity- such precise moments that speak ones inner certainty with such impact that to ignore them would prove foolhardy at least.
Today I travelled to Hope to attend a celebration of sorts, the last ” hurrah” of the Kawkawa Bridge made famous in the film, ” First Blood”.
I have no problem explaining why this film left such an impression on me, although I have a harder time explaining why my parents let a ten year old watch this movie, which was released in 1982. I clearly recall my parents being enthralled with seeing their own province on the big screen, knowing people all over the world would know what British Columbia looked like – or at least part of it. The area around Hope is beautiful, stunning in fact, but can also be brutal in it’s raw, savage nature. Rambo took it on in full eighties glory, and won. Yes, I had a crush on old Sly when I was ten, and even today when I saw the fellow from England who was a dead ringer for the younger Stallone, my heart skipped a beat at his soulful eyes… sigh. But back to the bridge.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the awesome Barry Penner there, since Hope is part of his riding, but I was. He was there in all his awesomeness, giving interviews that never aired- or at least I haven’t seen any yet- and hanging around by himself looking awkward as a duck out of water.
To me, that struck a chord. An MLA, in his own riding, looking out of place.
As I was standing on the bridge, I ran into a woman with whom I had spoken with briefly at the tourist centre while taking photos of my son at the Rambo face insert. She mentioned how nice it was to see all the people here, how she and her husband had always meant to come the bridge and how sad it was that it took this- the bridge being demolished- to get them out here. I nodded, and laughed, and said: ” Yes, all this, and Barry Penner too!” gesturing to the man two feet beside me.
She tossed her head and made a noise,asking if that was something we should be pleased about, and then immediately apologised. ” I shouldn’t have said that, I never know what people think…”
” Please don’t apologise, I feel the same way.” I said, placing my hand on hers in confirmation.
She looked at me, and the happy eyes turned stormy.
” I just get so mad, so angry at what this government has done in particular over the last year to the people, and then they have the nerve to show up here when people want to save and keep this bridge… and he is standing there like what? Like what? What nerve is that? What has he done for this province?”
She took a deep breath, and looked right into my eyes and I looked into hers, which were filled with pain. Sorrow. I’m not kidding. I talk to people I don’t know all the time and get into conversations like this and people tell me things that matter to them even though I am a stranger and they don’t know me from Zeus. This woman was really upset Barry Penner, MLA for this area, was there on a day when most people wanted to keep the bridge for pedestrian use only. Honestly, I don’t know what it would cost the province to keep up the bridge, but really. Look at the provinces news releases, see how much money is being tossed out all the time, and tell me they can afford to demolish the bridge but can’t afford to maintain it for pedestrian use. Go on. Try.
I digress. This dear woman went on.
” It’s like this bridge is a symbol of what they are doing to BC, to us! They are crushing us! They get what they can and then POOF! It’s gone when it is no longer useful to them. It just makes me feel so bad. ”
I kept my hand on her arm, told her my name, check out my site and that there are a lot of people trying to save what is good and right in BC. She wasn’t an internet savvy woman, but I urged her to try, to find others like her, and to find hope that not all is lost, not by far.
The day ended well, I made it home in one piece although the body is tired, worn and still weak, the spirit is strong.
And Barry Penner?
Well, he’s just as awesome as ever…