Happy 150th, Canada.
Count me as hugely patriotic but in an understated – Canadian, I guess – way. Flag on backpack in Europe? Check. Buy Canadian? Whenever I can, but getting tougher. Polite? Mostly, thank you. Defender of Nickelback? Sorry, too much.
When people try to define “Canadian” it usually includes universal health care, alongside hockey, Tim Horton’s and other clichés. Why does universal health care belong on that list though? It doesn’t make us unique – it makes us the same as every modern nation but one.
And of course we Canadians love to complain about our health care system and we should – it’s far from perfect. But here’s one thing Tory’s journey through the Canadian health care system gave us: comfort. Not total comfort – that’s impossible when battling cancer – but comfort knowing we were getting world-class care and not having to worry about being able to afford it.
There are only two occasions I needed to use a credit card in the entire process: to pay for parking at the hospital, and to cover the portion of Tory’s drugs that weren’t covered by our provincial or private plans.
This Canada Day also has me thinking about something else, and I suppose this year more than any other: Terry Fox.
I like to say I live my life with no regrets – good or bad, the choices I’ve made make me the person I am. But I’ll tell you a secret: I have one regret. And that’s when Terry Fox came through my hometown of Woodstock on July 16, 1980, I didn’t go see him. I was 10 and lazy I guess, and when family and friends walked up to Dundas Street to catch a glimpse of the Marathon of Hope, I stayed home.
I missed a chance to see perhaps the greatest Canadian ever and someone who’d become a personal hero on his trip across Canada to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
I remember like it was yesterday hearing about Terry’s death a few months later after his cancer returned, and I probably cried a bit harder because of my regret.
Kate and I have been talking about taking a road trip this summer. Not sure when or even if we’ll do it, but a visit to Thunder Bay to see the Terry Fox Memorial seems like a good destination.
Happy Canada Day. And here’s to living life with no more regrets…
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