The Long Way Home page 107:
The Regiment sprawled like a wounded, stinking beast, its gray canvas hide dirty and wrinkled. We could smell the decay and hear the moaning of the sick before we reached the base camp. The filthy hospital tents stretched along the outer ring of the main encampment. Just beyond the tents lay carts piled with bodies waiting for burial in the morning, bluebottle flies already swarming around the noxious liquid accumulating beneath each wagon. Inside this loathsome circle lay Canvas Town, home of the Regiment and, at its very center, Colonel Tye sat behind a small desk in his own tent.
“I was afraid I'd sent you to your death on those sick ships but now I see you've come here to die with us. Are you feeling better?”
“I'm healed and healthy.”
“Who's your friend?”
“Peters. From Wilmington, I think.”
The Long Way Home Page 339
I was not a quick learner. Through the spring of 1788 and into the summer I thought of no one but myself and indulging my sadness. Gradually my capacity for guilt and despair was filled, then over-flowed. I became tired of my own inactivity, then tired of my self-indulgence. One day when Noele asked if I wanted to go with him to pick raspberries, which grew like weeds around the village, I nodded. He did not express surprise but merely handed me a bucket and we walked in silence to the woods.
However, the grief never really left me. It sat, heavy, in the pit of my stomach. Each morning I woke with thoughts of my wife and son first in my mind. My lesson was to learn to live with these memories which would not diminish with time or experience. I did not learn how to do this through a cathartic event but rather through the force of life still coursing through me. I would never feel completely whole again.
The most important lesson in grief was that life was meant to be endured, not enjoyed, and so it would be with me until the end of my days.
Kevin Bannister is Lorraine's husband and the father of five. He is a rancher living in the beautiful foothills of central Alberta. He has been a farmer, businessman, journalist, editor, sportswriter, stockbroker, truck driver, gum puller, janitor, corporate vice president, steelworker and door-to-door salesman.
He would like Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele to be celebrated as the heroes that they were in their lifetimes and to be inspirations to young people everywhere to persevere in the face of bigotry, poverty, government indifference or any other adversity.
He is in great debt, especially to his wife Lorraine who is his greatest critic and a superb editor, to Lorraine Delp his Fireship Press editor and to Mary-Lou and Jacquie at Fireship for publishing the book and guiding him along the way and to his daughter Rebekah who designed and built his web site. He is also thankful for Dr. Daniel Paul who corrected some mistakes and thus improved The Long Way Home.
Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Bannister