Remembering Is Easy | JIM FURLONG

I remembered her birthday again this year. I always do. I did not wish my Aunt Madge well on her special day because she is dead. In fact, if she were alive, she would have been around 120 years old so condolences or Facebook comments like “so sorry for your loss” are not appropriate.

I remember her birth date every year because it is the 24th of May and I always know it because it is also the birth date she shares with Queen Victoria. “The 24th of May is the Queen’s birthday; If we don’t get a holiday, we’ll all run away.” That is a rhyme from the middle of the 19th century and the reign of Victoria. In these parts the 24th of May is still called Victoria Day. It is easy to remember. Some dates are like that. The Battle of Hastings is an example. It was 1066 and it is the only year anyone remembers from English history.

As many of you know I have twin boys. In the midst of all the family birthdays and occasions their birthday will never slip from memory because their calendar date was September 11. That is a day remembered as the date of the 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. I referred for a while to my boys as “my twin towers” but my missus told me it was inappropriate, so I gave it up. Nevertheless, I will always know the boys’ birthday because it was Sept. 11. By contrast, my oldest boy was born sometime in the early months of 1986. That is about as close as I can come, sometime in March or April. 

My own wedding date will be forever remembered. It was a rainy day in June many years ago. It would be forgettable were it not for the fact that it was on a Friday, and it was the 13th day of June but Friday, the 13th, notoriously a day of bad luck, turned out was one of the luckiest days of my life. It takes its place in my little book of unforgettable dates.

There is a place in that book for hockey player extraordinaire Henri Richard. Some will know Henri was born in 1936 in Montreal. He was the little brother of hockey legend Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard and he was the seventh of eight children. Why is he referenced here, though? It is because in 1936 Henri was born on Feb. 29. That makes him part of an elite group of people known as ‘Leap Year Babies’. He has a birthday once every four years and nobody forgets his birthday.

There is one more date and it is a personal favourite of mine in this odd calendar. In 1984, Pierre Trudeau finished his second stint as Prime Minister and announced his intention of stepping down. He had taken a long walk in an Ottawa snowstorm the night before. He came to a decision. The next morning he called Liberal Party President Iona Campagnolo and told her he was leaving. In retelling the story Campagnolo says she glanced at her calendar and noticed it was the 29th of February. Campagnolo’s thought was “I should have known.”