Monday, January 02, 2012

RIP Our War Bride

She was a teenager, working as a waitress in her hometown in England, during the war. She, I imagine, was like most teenage girls during that time, trying to catch the eye of some handsome young man. She had a kind heart for them too, and knitted mittens for the boys in the troops from overseas.

And she did catch an eye. And why would she not? With that pretty hair and such a beautiful smile. She was the perfect picture of a sweetheart - the kind Mr. tall-and-good-looking Joseph James Curling Laing, RAF, wanted.

He was going to leave and send for her. But she was a feisty one and said, "Oh no way mister, you're not getting out of here without me. You're going to marry me before you leave!" And so they were married in a stunning brick church built in 600 A.D. in The Lizard, Cornwall, in 1943.

"Pearl" had heard stories of Newfoundland from her husband. It was a rugged land. There was no electricity, no paved roads, no indoor plumbing. It was very different from the amenities she was accustomed to.

But she followed him anyways. She was 20 years old when she boarded the ship on January 26th, 1943, and alone, except for her 2 year old daughter and a baby in her belly. She was in for a rough winter voyage that took her across the Atlantic. Her journey carried her to a stay in Lomond, while waiting for the ice to come in. And on February 27th, 1943, she finally made her way on horse and sleigh to her new home in Norris Point.

And when she arrived she must have been thinking, "Oh my! What have I gotten myself into!". The description from her husband could not have prepared her for how truly primitive this Newfoundland would be. But she was greeted immediately by "Aunt Nellie" who, unbeknownst to her at the time, would become one of her very best friends. Even though her new way of life was much different than the one she had known such a short time ago and miles away, it was this warm friendly welcome that helped her settle right in.

It wasn't long, just a couple of months, before Curling and Pearl welcomed a brand new baby boy. Eventually they would raise 8 children: 5 daughters and 3 sons. This would grow over the years to a current tally of 17 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

As Jamie and I sat there, in her little white house, on boxing day, surrounded by so many of those children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Jamie said, "You know, it's all because of her that we're here."

It's amazing when you really think about it. One brave young lady was brave enough to follow her heart across thousands of miles of ocean, and managed to fill a home to overflowing, not just with people, but with abounding love as well.

And her name carries on, in our hearts, and with our daughter, Sarah Lillian, who I hope we can teach to be as kind and lovely and courageous as her Great-Nanny Laing.

R.I.P. Lillian Pearl (Nicholls) Laing: November 22, 1925 to December 26, 2011


Christa said...

Beautiful....what an amazing story :)

Valerie said...

Myrna, what you have written was exactly what my Grandmother's life was all about. Thank you for doing this. She was a remarkable women who always had a smile and she loved to laugh. Most of all she loved each and everyone of her family and friends. We are going to miss her dearly. She will always be remembered for the stunning lady that she was. She always loved her homeland and spoke of it often, but never regretted coming to Norris Point with Pop and my Mother. When you think of it, at 20 years of age, it mush have been an frightening experience. She raised a remarkable family who will always cherish the memories we have of her. I love you Nan.

Anonymous said...

beautiful story,I love it