Monday, March 21, 2011

Lost 50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago, in March 1961, my Dad's father, Edward Stewart, was lost at sea. He was on one of three boats, from Lockeport, Nova Scotia, which went down during a horrific storm off the Emerald Bank, 110 miles from their home port. Seventeen men were lost, all of them married except one, and sixty-five children were left without fathers.

On March 18th my father went to the wharf with his father to see him off. It was my Dad who cast the lines off and saw his father for the last time. The Muriel Eileen, Marjorie Byrl and the Jimmy and Sisters were all 53 ft long liners that were used to being in bad weather. The long liner fishermen were known to be the best at their craft and they were brave men. On March 21st the boats hit into a storm that was said to have had winds of 70 mile gusts, but there was nothing for them to do but to ride out the storm. Emmanuel Currie of the Jimmy and Sisters was overheard to say over the ship's radio: "we're here and there's nothing we can do about it- we've just got to stay."

March 21st marks the day the men and boats were lost forever. My Dad remembers not being overly concerned at first, because they had lost radio contact before when the boats had been blown off course. He kept thinking that they would hear from his father soon. But about a month after that fateful storm, my Dad was laying on his bed reading a book when his little brother, Herbie, came upstairs and said "Dad's not coming home, is he, Alan?" and my Dad answered that he didn't think he would be.

My father was the oldest of seven children. He was twenty-two at the time. My grandmother was given the widow's allowance of $19., per month, which was a standard rate whether you had one child or more. She had to sell her home and move into a smaller one. And she had to get a job, which she did at the Irving Oil office as a clerk. Life changed dramatically for all of the families of the lost fishermen. It was an event that scarred the town and is remembered still.

I never knew my grandfather because I wasn't born until the following year. I wish I had known him. But I have stories of him and his kindness and his love for children. And I have my father and I know that his father's traits live on in his son. I think my Dad always felt bad that he had been the one to cast off the lines that day so long ago not knowing at the time that he would never see his father again. Not only did my grandfather leave seven children and a wife behind but he left stories and memories that will be shared with his decendants forever. (13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren to date 2011)

 When my grandfather left the wharf he was not a Christian so we don't know for sure if we will see him in eternity or not. But I have to hope that he did call out to God before he was lost. These men were the best of the best. They were the long liners. They had been in the worst of seas before and I have to believe that they knew this was a storm like no other and that they may not be pulling through it. I have to believe they called out to God in their hour of need and that I will see my grandfather in Heaven.

"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."
 Isaiah 58:9

 1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
   he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
   I will call on him...
 3 The cords of death entangled me,
   the anguish of the grave came over me;
   I was overcome by distress...
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
   “LORD, save me!”
 5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
   our God is full of compassion
Psalm 116:1-5a

"everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved;"
Joel 2:32

"And everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord will be saved."
 Acts 2:21

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