It was mid-July 2001, and MiLady’s visit to Ontario was ending.
The 90-minute car ride to the aeroport was sullen. Very odd when you think of three little boys, all ADHD and big fans of aeroplanes, just sitting with their hands in the laps, staring down at their well-worn shoes!
Junior was nine, Captain almost seven and Chef only five years old.
MiLady and I had been dating long distance since February that year, with dozens and dozens of e-mails every day, then phone calls every night, lasting all night (Well, that is, until the bill for the first half month was over $500!)!
We tried typing messages to each other in real time with ICQ <– anyone else remember that?!?
Then MiLady discovered that MSN Messenger allowed voice … but that’s another story that has already been told!
Once at the Departures security area, my trio of Army men and I had said our good-byes and watched her join the cue; as my fiancée rounded the corner to the x-ray area, we left to return to the parking lot.
It took far longer to reach the car. My thoughts were an endless loop to when I had proposed to her the night before, and she wailed an ocean of tears that I sincerely believed I would drown in (until she told me that she was trying to say, “YES!”).
I was not aware anything was amiss until we almost reached our van.
“Sound off!” was my old Army voice way of taking headcount.
“ONE!” Junior called back!
“TWO!” hollered Captain.
Chef had wandered after MiLady with nothing but his bright red pack (used for attending Kindergarten) slung over his back.
Inside was his most treasured possession: his first teddy bear, a cheery, fluffy white that he named “Snowy,” given to him by her a fortnight earlier.
To the many commuters, bustling to and fro across the country, he looked to be a typical happy and bright-eyed, less-than-three-foot tall Ron Weasley with a face full of freckles that were the same ginger colour as his mussed-up mop of hair!
Snowy was lookout, with her snout, eyes, ears and the tops of her front paws peeking out of that tiny red bag.
Now, Snowy wasn’t a big bear – and Chef’s bag wasn’t either – but, the rest of that white bear’s fluff stuffed that backpack! Chef left nothing to chance; he wanted his furry friend to be comfortable – EVERYTHING else came out … everything, including the KidFind I.D. card affixed to the bottom of that tiny pack with masking tape.
Four and a half minutes.
That’s all it took, to find Chef sitting on the floor with his empty pack in front of him, wailing!
“SNOWY … IS … A … GIRL!”
He then pointed at MiLady.
“She gave her to me,” he continued between sobs, causing wide-eyed concern among the security personnel.
“Chef! You dummy,” Junior and Captain called out to him, as I spoke to security, who were intent upon turning MiLady over to the police!
Flanked by his older brothers, Chef wiped his nose with his shirt sleeve, still devastated.
Junior saw Snowy was missing and motioned to Captain, who had already spotted her.
“Does SHE belong to you!?” my little Captain hollered, posing like a pissed off Superman (fists on hips) shaming the security officer to return it.
Reunited with his bear, Chef quickly stuffed her back into his pack, into the familiar position she had taken before as lookout, then quietly stood holding hands with his protective brothers.
A little while later, they cheered when I kissed the woman-they-soon-would-call-Mum, then watched with me as she was assisted to catch her flight back towards the Rocky Mountains.
“BYE, MUM!” they screamed in unison, as my mind fretted that we would never see the likes of her, again.
We didn’t know, but another tsunami of tears began, and, this time, MiLady didn’t have any tissues for the trip home.