Monday, September 12, 2011

You May No Longer Be In Our Homes, But You’ll Always Be In Our Hearts

I stayed up until 3am on Saturday night, watching anniversary footage of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, on September 11, 2001.

As well as, of course, the Pentagon, and a desolate field in rural Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, since both boys were busy doing their 'own thing', most of my day was lost to the TV.

I was glued to ‘special’ after ‘special’ after ‘special’ on the events, flipping between The History Channel and TLC.

Ten years later, myself, along with much of the world can still vividly remember exactly where we were, what we were doing and how whatever plans had been made for that day, were forgotten in a heartbeat.

My ex had a friend visiting us from New York.

THAT morning, he drove him to the Halifax International airport for his flight home.

When Buddy got on that plane in Halifax, everything was right with the world ... he had NO idea what would be waiting for him at his destination.

We didn't end up hearing from him, or learning that he was actually OK, until after 9pm that night.

Over twelve hours after the initial attack.

We knew he hadn't been on one of the hi-jacked planes, but we had no idea what had happened to HIS plane after he left Halifax.

Or even WHERE it had landed.

And little did we know, in a few short hours, approx. 40 planes would be landing at OUR airport, and our citizens would be opening up our homes and hearts to approximately 7000 of those weary, shocked and scared travelers in need.

I was working from home that day.

Alec was at school in his first year of Primary, Adam only a year old.

We had our office in the basement. I was down there on the computer and had just logged into work when I got a personal message from someone in an online group I was a part of at the time (and still today!), called Youngwives.

I don't remember WHO sent the message. Sorry ladies, I wish I did!

But I do remember it was short, and to the point and the urgency in her tone sent me running to the TV, where I spent the rest of the day.

The first message I sent was to work.

It was a mass mailout to many of my co-workers, telling them what had just happened and to, 'get to a TV or radio right away', if they could.

A few people actually thought it was a prank.

Silly People. Should have known me better!

One of the first replies I got back was from my boss.

She wanted to know EVERYTHING I knew up to that point, because her sister was working in (or perhaps it was next to ... ) one of the towers (she was OK).

It seems so many people knew SOMEONE who was THERE.

I filled her in as best I could, then headed back to the TV.

For days, the world watched. And waited. And watched some more.

I remember Alec arriving home from school, and sending him outside so he wouldn’t see the images on the news.

I remember thinking at the time, as I’m sure MANY parents did, ‘WHAT kind of a world have I brought these children into?’

From that day forward, the world changed.

Things for his generation (or mine for that matter) would never be the same.

Despite the shock, horror and anger felt in the days following the attacks, I also felt VERY proud of my city.

Within hours, reports were coming in that all airlines were diverting flights to other destinations.

238 of those planes came to Canada and approximately 40 of them, the largest number of aircraft to be received, to my city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I’m not sure how many of you realize what a tough job this was, to get all those planes down safely, so I’ve included a couple of paragraphs from the NAV Canada website,

“Following the closure of Canadian airspace, the focus shifted to "clearing the skies". To land more than 200 planes in a few hours would be a complex and difficult task. The priority for the Tactical Centre was to determine airport runway capacity. Within a very short period of time, our control tower personnel, in consultation with airport authorities, determined how many planes each airport could handle.”

Information taken from NAV Canada website.


“The Area Control Centres at Gander, Moncton and Montreal and the International Flight Service Station at Gander managed the re-routing of the North Atlantic aircraft. The tower and flight service station staff at St. John's, Gander and Halifax managed the ground situation, which required turning runways into parking ramps."

Information taken from NAV Canada website.

As a result of the emergency re-routing work these people provided, EACH of the 238 planes landed WITHOUT INCIDENT!

Gander Newfoundland opened their doors to over 6000 people. Vancouver approx. 8500, as did other cities across the country, and my city, Halifax, opened their facilities, services, homes and hearts to over 7000 displaced passengers.

On that day, this is what the runway looked like at our airport.

This picture of the runway, at the Halifax International Airport, was taken on September 11, 2001, by Bob Garnhum, a pilot with CHC Helicopters, at that time.

Thank you VERY MUCH, Bob, for allowing me to use this picture!

Immediately, my (then) husband and I made the necessary phone call to get our names on the list, for people accepting passengers.

For me, it didn’t matter WHO these people were, or WHERE they were from, what language they spoke, what religion or beliefs they had, these were people in need, stranded, and we were going to be there to HELP in whatever way we could.

In the end, officials managed to get everyone a safe spot to wait out the aftermath, and we did not have displaced passengers stay with us personally.

For their actions during this time, I’m VERY proud of our Nova Scotians, (as well as the other Canadians), who let their true Maritimer colours shine through during that tragedy.

We really ARE the stereotypical, ‘Nice … polite … caring Canadians’, that everyone makes us out to be.

ESPECIALLY, when it counts!

My boys don’t remember that day.

They don’t remember the days and days of news coverage afterwards. As long as they had YTV, that was all the TV they were concerned with.

Alec is now 15 and Adam 11.

Over the weekend, with both boys, at times with both together, and at times with each individually, we watched different shows, or Youtube clips of that tragic day.

The day their world changed, and they didn’t even know it.

They know it now. And they also know, even though ‘Bin Laden’ is gone, there are threats every day that we must face.

Some are obvious … others … not so much.

What I wanted them to GET out of all the 9/11 coverage this weekend, is that YES, we may face unknown threats all the time, but it CAN’T run your life.

You can’t stop living, and you can't live your life in constant fear, because of what MIGHT happen … again.

All we can do, is take the time to treat each other just a LITTLE bit better, take more time to appreciate what we have, and if the need arises, make sure we offer those helping Canadian hands in ANY way we can.

Because really, what else CAN we do?

We will never forget.

One of the BEST pieces of footage I’ve seen from that day, I watched for the first time last night.

It was taken by a CBS employee (I believe) who stayed during the chaos.

If you want to get a first hand view of what it was like THAT DAY, during THOSE HOURS, at the base of the towers, then WATCH THIS!

It’s the closest thing you’ll come to experiencing being on the streets of New York, during one of their most difficult, terrifying moments.

I REALLY hope this guy received some type of ‘award’, or at least a BIG raise after getting this footage!

Thoughts and prayers to all those and their families who were, and are still, affected by the SENSELESS tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Feel free to share in the comments, your thoughts on that day.

And finally, to those displaced passengers who ended up on our runways, you may no longer be in our homes, but you’ll always be in our hearts.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I don’t really enjoy Back To School.

I know many parents simply LIVE for this time of year. The time when kids head back to the classroom, and out from under their parents feet.

The time when parents no longer have to hear, ‘Mom, I’m BORED!’

Many parents simply can’t wait for that first day back to the ‘routine’.

Me? Not so much.

Unfortunately, for me, as well as all the other parents out there, going back to school means dollar signs. And lots of them.

And every year, I’m left grumbling to myself, and cranky in the aisles, because despite the fact the boys have two parents, there’s only ONE who pays for the ‘back to school’ supplies, clothes, shoes, haircuts and fees every year.


And every year, that fact makes me cranky.

This year was no exception.

The boys and I had already done one ‘Walmart Run’, where they chose binders, backpacks and a few articles of clothing.

The next day, I did a second run.

On this trip, unfortunately, we had to exchange some of the items one of the boys had taken home the day before, (thinking it would fit).

I’m standing in line at Customer Service, completely lost in my thoughts.

Thinking about how much this particular trip was going to cost. Thinking about how much the trip(s) before that had already depleted my wallet.

But what’s a parent to do? Your kids NEED supplies, clothes, shoes (two pair for each kid to be exact) and everything else that goes along with it.

I was SO wrapped up in my moment of unhappiness, that I didn’t even notice the little girl standing sort of between her father and I in the lineup.

OK, I NOTICED her, I just wasn’t paying much attention to her, simply because I was focused on my own misery.

I knew she was making noises, but I wasn’t listening to what they were.

Finally, a small voice broke through my cloud of gloominess.

What began as simply background noise, mixed in with the normal ‘Walmart chaos’, slowly started to penetrate my brain.

Something was pulling me out of my mental drowning in ‘school supply hell’.

Suddenly, I realized it was the little girl.

She had been trying to get my attention.

Despite the fact she kept repeating herself, louder … and louder … and LOUDER … I wasn’t answering her.

She was talking to ME and I had been completely ignoring her.

I looked down, and gave her my full attention, to see what she was trying to tell me.

She wasn’t shy at all.

She looked straight at me, with wide, beautiful eyes and said (for perhaps the 5th time), quite loudly, ‘YUR PREEEETTY!!!’

It took me aback.

I was so caught up in my own thoughts, my own moment of unhappiness, that her words took a second to sink in.

I got right down to her level.

We were eye to eye when I said ‘Thank you very much, Hun!’

Considering I had simply rolled out of bed, fed the kids, thrown on some jeans and a tank top, no makeup, and nothing done to the hair … I thought that was a HUGE compliment, and I told her so!

It wasn’t until later in the afternoon, while I was driving by myself, that it hit me …

That little girl was standing in that lineup for a reason.

Somebody, somewhere felt I really needed to get my head out of the place it was in.

I needed a smile.

And apparently, she was put in that particular lineup, at that particular time, to give me one.

And without even knowing it, to make me feel better.

I’m still pissed off that I am the only parent who contributes to my kids ‘back to school’ costs every year.

But sometimes, you just have to let those feelings go, and get out of your own way long enough to understand that even when things seem bad, there’s always SOMEONE who can still see the good.

Even if that someone is a little four year old girl, a complete stranger, just wanting to tell you, ‘YUR PREEEETTY!!!’

Thank you, Little One. You really did change my day!

Happy Back To School, Kiddos! I hope everyone has a GREAT year!