It is a cool and wet Friday evening here in New Westminster. I’m at a local eatery waiting on dinner. Typically at the end of the work week I dine out for the evening meal.
On this evening the World Junior Hockey game is on. Canada and Sweden are battling it out for gold. And Canada wins it! The boys are young. The elation and joy on their faces is palpable as this is likely their first really big win.
Sadly one of the Swedish players was reduced to tears and threw his silver medal into the crowd. Likely the first time this player has felt defeat in such a stinging manner.
But then there is just something about firsts’, isn’t there?
Some of them become defining moments in our lives, both the good and the bad.
Our first steps, first words, first day of school dutifully recorded by doting parents.
I can’t say that I recorded every little thing my daughter did for the first time, however, my memory of certain events that were firsts’ are tied to the emotions felt at the time they occurred.
My daughter was around 9 months old when she took her first steps. Pushing herself up onto wobbly legs she pitched her entire body forward into an odd little run. Her upper body gained velocity quickly leaving the legs trying desperately to keep up. The balance ratio not yet configured resulting in the inevitable fall.
And for me it was a combination of elation and terror felt simultaneously. I rushed toward her trying to prevent the fall to the floor or at least its impact.
That fall hurt.
Confused, the lips trembled and the tears exploded as the wail sounded. I scooped her up and soothed the child and then began teaching her how to find that balance. Holding the arms just so, centering the body then taking a step.
My daughter discovered too that if balance was lost it was better to drop down onto your bottom. Easier to recover and not nearly as painful.
I cannot recall her first word at this writing. Did I record everything? No, not really. for me it was the emotions attached to each new milestone that she reached.
When I returned to work full-time after moving back to Vancouver I found it difficult to leave her in daycare. That first day, week, month I cried as I left the daycare. I remember her first day of elementary school and her last day there. I remember her first day of high school as well as her last.
And there were many firsts along the way.
My first heartbreak came when I was about 6-7 years of age. I was in love with Mr. Ed, the talking horse. I watched the show enamored by the Palomino that talked saucily to to Wilbur.
I informed my father that I was going to marry Mr. Ed when I grew up.
Unceremoniously and with rather callous disregard he groaned and rolled his eyes.
“Don’t be stupid. You can’t marry a horse, besides the damn thing will be dead long before you are of the age to marry.”
And my young heart was crushed in that moment.
The series began the year I was born 1958 and ended in 1966. Mr. Ed died in 1968.
Yet the love I felt for the character of that horse are still fondly remembered 50 plus years later.
My first crush was on Bobby Orr.
I, like so many other children in Canada, caught hockey fever. Hockey Night In Canada was watched on a grainy black and white T.V. every Saturday always.
Later when Vancouver was awarded an NHL team my sister Norma and I would sit listening to Jim Robson call the game on the radio while playing penny poker.
My first live game was on my 13th birthday. I was in 7th grade and my dad took me to see the Canucks take on the Bruins.
I felt torn that evening between my loyalty to my team and my love for Bobby. That would be the closest I would ever come to Bobby and amazingly Vancouver Canucks won that evening 5-4 back in February 1971.
I’ve had so many firsts that have had a powerful impact on my life. Some good and some of it bad. I try to hang onto the lessons gleaned from these experiences, the good and the bad.
There was a saying back in the 1970’s.
‘Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.’
Indeed. I will try to live it to my fullest potential.