(sad guitar music, same as for Liz’s assault)
Well that was based on a really intense situation that happened to us, um, my husband Rod was, uh, on his way up north to pick up some friends who were canoeists who had gone down the Yathkyed River – the Kazan River going into the Yathkyed Lake and that was right up around Baker Lake in, in the, in, uh, Northwest Territories. And I really didn’t want him to go. I was so upset that he was going because it was a place that he’d never gone to before, the weather was starting to close in, it was getting towards the end of August and so, uh, what happened was he went to pick up these people, um, there’s no trees or anything in that area there’s a strong wind, they loaded the aircraft up – we had a Cessna 185 on floats, uh – four people, four big men in the plane, paddles, supplies, the canoe was pegged to the shore – and they were over-loaded and they went to taxi out of the bay to take off, the wind picked up one wing of the aircraft and rolled the aircraft upside down in the lake.
So there were these four guys who managed to scramble out of this aircraft sitting on the overturned aircraft and it was three days before they were found and it was quite a…an amazing story, um, it’s worth, uh, many pages of a nov…of a story, right? It’s a good story, but they kept warm by um heating rocks around each other…the story of how they survived is quite a tale.
Anyways, I wanted to use that story in a way that, um, would add a little bit of drama to the strip so I have, uh, John and Uncle Phil go off on a canoe trip and they are overturned and end up on a spot where they have to survive until they were located.
(more sad guitar music – different this time)
It brought back all of the anxiety for us because at home we all kind of stuck together, my mother-in-law and the kids and I at my house so that any phone call that came from Search and Rescue would come to one place and then I would call the wives of the other men, let them know what was going on. Search and Rescue came from Edmonton, they had, um, helicopters and, uh, they had a Hercules aircraft with the big bubbles on the side for the spotters and they just, they just did a fabulous job, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to…to have worked with those fine people. And when they were discovered it was the Search and Rescue SARS [sic] team that jumped out with parachutes and put tents up for them and, and, and uh, it was funny ‘cos the guys said, “We were starving, we hadn’t eaten anything in three days and we’d been shaking so much” you know that to try to keep warm that your body is just desperate for some kind of food, and they said, “Even with that kind of hunger we just couldn’t stand canned eggs.” (laughs)
Anyways, it was, it was a, a really intense time, I thought that I’d lost my husband (widens eyes, raises eyebrows and nods at interviewer) and, um, and I thought about all of the things I kvetched about (waggles fingers and grimaces), you know, “Pick up your towel off the floor” and “Don’t leave your whiskers in the sink” and you say to yourself, “Oh, I’d give anything for that towel on the floor, I’d give anything for those whiskers in the sink” and all these little petty things that you gripe about when you’re (makes fists) co-habiting didn’t mean a thing. What was…I want that person back, you know?
It’s interesting ‘cos you’re in shock while you’re waiting, you’re, you almost have no sense of, of anything, loss or fear or anything, you’re just, minute by minute, day by day, you’re just in shock, and, and you’re…I was surprisingly clear-headed because I’m saying to myself, “If he is gone, how will I, how will I handle the finances and the, you know, funeral arrangements, what will I do with the children, will I move from this community: what will I do? And I was pretty clear-headed, but that’s the way I am when I’m in shock, right? And the other wives were pretty well the same.
At the time that the strip was done we didn’t have the Internet, so you didn’t have the instant replay that you do now, you didn’t have the instant (waves hands) messaging and…and people contacting you right away. Nowadays the day after, the day of, people will say, “Oh that happened to me.” We did get quite a few letters from people who were canoeists and had accidents, and actually what we did hear from was people…because it was years afterwards, right? (gestures with thumb)...we heard from people who were the SAR Techs and the, uh, and the captain of the…the team that lead the…the group that was on the Search and Rescue that time, I did hear from them, from the fellas who were there, um, those are the people I really…I really was amazed to hear from and thrilled to hear from again.
Um, when Search and Rescue finally found the aircraft they found the pontoons floating in the water and expected all the guys to be dead inside the airplane, but they were waving and shouting on the other side of the, of the bay, and how they made it was just, uh, it was with God’s hand.
Don’t you have complete recall of an event that, that impacted your life? I mean, let’s say one of your kids was horribly sick and you had to suddenly take them to the hospital. Don’t you remember everything about that day? What they were wearing, what you were wearing, how you bundled them, how…what, you know, what the weather was like, who the people were that met you at the hospital…I mean, those recalls come back and if you, if you really focus on it, if somebody said, “What did it smell like? How cold was it that day?” (snaps fingers) it would come back just like that because it’s so important to you.
And so things like this, I mean, I remember everything about those Hercules aircraft and about, about the people themselves, how wonderful they were with me, and with my family, and how gracious they were about explaining everything, how, how it made me feel so confident and comfortable: they…they were used to dealing with grief and panic, and they did so with such…with such graciousness, I mean, they were really well…I want to say ‘well-trained’, but I think they were the kind of people…I don’t think you’d go into Search and Rescue if you don’t have a real sense of love for your fellow man, I really think it’s a…an exceptional group of people who do this, and years later I was signing books in Ottawa and a very fine man came up to me with a great big album (uses hands to demonstrate size of album) and he put it down in front of me and…you know, I’ve seen a lot of things in these groups of people, you know, and I thought, “What’s this?” and he opened the album and he said, “I’d like you to sign your name right here” and there…he was the, uh, captain of the Hercules and he had the date, uh, it was his aircraft log, and it was the date of the rescue and he asked me to sign that and I, I got up and hugged them and people in the line-up were crying – he’d been saying (stage whispers exaggeratedly), “I was the guy, I was the guy,” right? And, I mean, things like that just fill me right up, I mean, what a great world this is!