The Sweet Spot

Golfers know without looking when they have hit that perfect drive.  There is that almost delicious, seemingly effortless feeling transmitted up the shaft to be confirmed with the sharp report transmitted nearly instantly to the ears.  I, unfortunately, experience it far too infrequently, but it was ever thus – muffed shots clunk while perfect shots ping.

Since publishing by book, “That Lucky Old Son,” I have lived in near petrifying fear of the deafening thud that would herald the negative reaction to its form, style, and message.  I envy any writer who does not feel this trepidation in essentially baring their soul to their readership.  Perhaps I have just been too busy to notice it, or my readers have been particularly circumspect.  Maybe it is still coming!

Then came a surprising encounter and it gave me a feeling that easily outpaced anything I have experienced on the links.

I must back up a bit to tell you that one of my students came to visit me in my office late last year.  He noticed the many photos of my father, resplendent in his WWII RCAF uniform, that festoon my bulletin board.  I was then impressed that he correctly identified a Halifax bomber in another picture.  Most people guess, “Lancaster” which only elicits a heavy sigh and a polite correction.  One guessed “B‑17” and I had to fight the urge to toss them out on their ear, but I digress!

I learned that the student’s grandfather, still living, was a member of an RCAF squadron in Group 6 of Bomber Command and had flown many operations as a navigator in the venerable Halifax.  I told the student about my soon-to-be published book.  I met up with the student after publication and gave him a copy of my book to pass on to his grandfather – a small token of my respect for all of the “Bomber Boys” for their service.

Fast forward to a talk I gave to the Regina Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Heritage Society last month.  I was asked to give a presentation “about my book,” so I cobbled together a rambling discourse about some of my research.  After I was through and began packing up, a senior but very spry gentleman approached me and offered his hand.  As I shook it, he said in a strong but hoarse voice, “I read your book.  Thank you for giving me a copy.”

I immediately connected him to my student.  While he continued to pump my hand, he continued speaking saying that my book “was just the way it was,” and “very true-to-life.”  We chatted for several minutes and we even found another connection – he asked if I was related to a “Clarisse Cote” whom he said he dated only once in the time before he went overseas during the war.  I was happy to confirm that she was my first cousin, once removed, and that her photo is elsewhere in this website.  It is always an almost unreal feelings meeting veteran airmen but this one was even more satisfying than most for I was certain that in the midst of our discussion I heard it.

Ping!

- Mark Cote, 30 June 2018         

© Copyright Mark Cote