As much as I’m happy to see September arrive, part of me hates to leave August behind.
That’s likely because the month of August is responsible for some of the most life-changing, transformative, growth-building and heart-filling moments I’ve ever had. As I go through my entire life, it’s remarkable to see how many of the events which made me the person I am today have occurred in August, beginning with…
August 1980: My eye doctor determines that, shortly after my eighth birthday a month later, I’m going to need surgery to remove a cataract from my left eye. It’s my first eye surgery; it won’t be my last.
August 1988: On the second day of my first week at the youth camp run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish, I tearfully determine that I can’t solve my problems alone and that I really need Jesus Christ’s help, so invite him into my heart to be my Saviour. It’s the day I stopped simply being a churchgoer and started being a Christian.
August 1989: My first real kiss occurs at the tail-end of the fourth day of that same diocesan youth camp, which sees the boys taken to the girls’ camp up the road for the traditional “Joint Day” celebrations. (She was a Boston Bruins fan. It didn’t work out.)
August 1996: I move into my first apartment, at the former Strait Apartments complex on the intersection of Queen Street and Sydney Road in Port Hawkesbury. (I feel the need to point out that I never had a single problem in the entire time that I was living there.)
August 1998: After months of deliberation, I make the difficult decision to end my five-year stay in the newsroom at CIGO 1410 AM Radio, 20 months before it becomes 101.5 The Hawk FM. The staff throws me a nice going-away dinner and presents me with balloons and flowers prior to my final Friday-afternoon newscast. I officially end my days at CIGO by hosting the Sunday morning show” East Coast Rising” for the final time, kicking off two decades’ worth of having no specific answer to people who still ask me, to this day, “How are things at the radio station?”
August 2001: My first-ever album release party takes place at the Creamery building on the Port Hawkesbury waterfront. It’s a wonderful gathering of kind friends and family, both onstage and in the audience. The camaraderie is so vibrant that Creamery organizers ask me to host my own concert series, “Songs on The Waterfront,” over the following three years. After it’s all over, most of us – including my friend Lisa Harding, visiting from British Columbia – gather at Shindig’s Pub and sing along with Cyril MacPhee as he entertains the crowd well into the night.
August 2004: The members of Les Voix de la Mer, a French-Acadian folk group that included me in their membership during our elementary, high school and early-university years, reunite for a six-show tour of Cape Breton as part of the island’s hosting of the World Acadian Congress. It’s the first time any of us have done any kind of a professional concert, and it’s also the debut for most of the group members at the Louisbourg Playhouse, the North Sydney Dockside Ceilidhs, and Louisdale’s Seal Cove Restaurant. We still talk fondly about it today.
August 2008: Cathy becomes my wife and I become her husband in a joyful ceremony at Holy Guardian Angels Catholic Church in L’Ardoise, co-officiated by Father Barrett Clare-Johnson and Cathy’s former Baptist pastor, Leo Fletcher. When we arrive at the parish hall for the dinner, the wedding guests have already launched a full-blown ceilidh; they serenade us and our bridal party with a revamped version of “Mairi’s Wedding” as we come through the doors.
August 2012: My first visit to Europe, accompanying Delores Boudreau at Le Semaine Acadienne in the northern France town of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. It’s also the first time Cathy and I have ever been across the Atlantic together. It won’t be the last.
August 2017: Another difficult professional decision – this one to exit The Reporter’s newsroom after nearly a decade (and nearly a cumulative 12 years over the last two decades). My reasons for leaving weren’t the ones I expected to have, but I still feel it was the right thing to do.
And now, as I write this column in the last week of August 2018, Cathy and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and have grown stronger as individuals and as a married couple over the past decade, and we are both putting our trust in God to lead us – personally and professionally – in the days, weeks and months to come.
I look forward to seeing where that journey takes us by next August.