Summer 2006:The very day my oldest
brother Paul and his wife Ann, were flying to Edmonton, Alberta for a relativeís
surprise 90th birthday party, he received a call from a man we hadnít seen in
many decades.When this man learned I
too would be coming to Edmonton,
he asked if we all could meet.
It was a whirlwind of days with family and old friends getting together.
From the time I got off the plane in Edmonton
it felt as if I hit the tarmac running and to tell the truth, the thought of
driving hours to see a man I barely knew wasn't something I was enthused
about.However, Paul reminded me that
this man had taken an interest in my singing career when I was a little girl,
and that was all the coaxing I needed to stumble out of bed early next morning
and put my face on.
It took two and a half hours to get there. We accidentally took a wrong
turn somewhere between Edmonton and Red Deer but 20 minutes
later we found our way back onto the highway.Red Deer
was the half-way point for both sides and we chose to meet inauspiciously in
front of a huge WalMart just off the highway.
It was a very warm and crowded weekend at WalMart and we suddenly realized
we weren't sure what this man would look like. I recalled he had been married
with two children some 40 years ago and Paul remembered him to be a much older
man. We craned our necks to see if we could spot a very old man, probably frail,
hunched over, and possibly in a wheelchair.
Tanned from a recent trip to Las
Vegas, the tall man who planted himself in front of us
was far from frail. Isnít it interesting how time has a way of leveling some
things out.... like age?Years ago,
Mike Cerkowniak seemed worldly and so much older than we were. He was twenty
three when Paul, fifteen at the time, met him. I was only five, but I thought
he was the handsomest man Iíd ever met.
With a sweet gesture, reminiscent of an earlier time, Mike pinned rose corsages on Annís and my
jacket lapels and then led us to a nearby restaurant. Who was this Mike
Cerkowniak?And why was it so important
to him for us to meet?