Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spending Time with Bruce Morton

Bruce Morton, enjoying morning tea
I am not a biographer by trade, but I will try my best to write about the person that inspires us. His initial is BRM – Bruce Ralph Morton, but we simply just call him “Bruce”. He is 97 years young; he was born in Roblin, Manitoba, Canada on July 30th, 1917. Way back then it was a very small town of a few blocks where everybody knows anybody. Presently, he lives in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia by himself.

Bruce is pretty much very independent, he still drives to Victoria occasionally and of course around town, he prepares his own breakfast, lunch which he calls dinner and dinner which he calls supper. It is confusing for us, but we get used to it after spending two full nights with him. Bruce does not have a big lunch, usually a muffin and a cup of tea. Of course, he has to put cream on his tea; this is of course the big British influence when he grew up.

Bruce still goes to the market for groceries and does his chores around town; I almost forgot to mention that his supper is between 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. no later than that. In the morning, he drives to the beach and walks for about 30 minutes; he told us that walking is good for you. On the rainy days, Bruce pedals his stationary bike, where he placed it very conveniently close to his big living room window while watching any activities outside.

That day, Bruce took us to the Englishman River waterfall and we walked some more that afternoon. At night he walked through his backyard with Pokie, I was beat so I stayed behind. You see, the energy is like an advertising of Eveready battery, keep going and going and going.

Bruce Morton left home when he was eighteen years old; he went to Regina, Saskatchewan, looking for a job, any job. Back then you are lucky to make $1.50 per day. A loaf of bread is 5 cents, a dozen of eggs were 15 cents and chicken livers were given away for free. Bruce told me, he was very lucky to have two bucks in his pocket at any one time. Bruce has two brothers and one sister, they are all passed away, Bruce is the only who is still living, he even lost his only son at the age of 42 due to stomach cancer.
At this age he is considered very healthy, he does not have high blood sugar level, nor has high blood pressure, his cholesterol level is pretty much in check.

Hockey is his favorite game, in his earlier day he went to Vancouver but did not make the team. He did however made the hockey team in Lethbridge, Alberta for two years. His team was Lethbridge – Maple Leaf.

Enter the World War II; he immediately joined the Army for just six months but that he was not satisfied, so he quickly joined the Navy for three years in Calgary.  His job in the Navy was a supply ship, a convoy of 68, he also in charge of unloading the anti U-Boat (German submarine) depth charge during the Battle of Atlantic. He was shipped to Halifax to pick up the ship.

Bruce also worked at a control tower in High River, Alberta for one year; he worked as an employee number 159 at the High River Flying School. Back then radar was almost to a non-existence, he told me by looking at the cloud formation, and he could predict the condition. It’s amazing to think about it.

He then worked for Imperial Oil in Calgary, Alberta making a mere $3.50 a day. At one time he also applied to be a Canadian police – RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), but at the end he declined as he was requested to have his tonsils removed. It was indeed a strange requirement back then.
Now, enter his love life. Bruce first saw Celia (CC as we know her) when she was 16 years old in 1938, this is I believe his first love. CC was born on August 8th, 1922 and passed away on May 14th, 2012 some two years ago. CC was five years younger than Bruce.

The war was a terrible thing, for some reasons Bruce and CC got separated. Bruce married Betty in Calgary in 1944 and they were married for 50 years, having one son and one daughter.  Betty passed away in 1993 due to lung cancer. Bruce was alone again. Oh, at the beginning his in laws did not approve of him because he was in the Navy.

In the meantime CC (Bruce first love) married another person by the name of Earl which passed away in 2001. Luck would have it that CC’s niece phoned Bruce, letting him know and CC’s husband just passed away. Bruce gathered his strength and called CC at that time.

Three weeks has gone by, Bruce got a call from CC, guess what, she was just less than an hour away from where he lives, she landed in Comox Airport to the north, she said, “Pick me up”.  This was the first time in 63 years that Bruce met CC, the last time being in 1938, he told me that maybe CC had put a lot of weight, but to Bruce delight CC was just still the same, still cheerful and full of smiles.

This was another beginning of another love affair, a continuation of their first love separated by World War II.  They went together again for the next eleven years until CC passed away in 2012. Bruce remained in Qualicum Beach and CC lived in Lethbridge, Alberta.  When they were not together physically, Bruce phoned CC almost on a daily basis at night.

Thank you Bruce for being such an inspiration to us, you are more than a family in our hearts. His motto is “Every day is a good day”.  We look forward to see you again next year.


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