My Secrets by Vicki Grant
Secret #1: I’m a model for a denture clinic in British Columbia.
I didn’t mean to model dentures but apparently somebody thinks I should. I live in Halifax, as does my 12-year old niece but she was recently in British Columbia on a holiday with her grandparents. At a mall in Surrey, they just happened to pass a large picture of a middle-aged lady smiling goofily out from a denture clinic window. “That’s Aunt Vicki,” Maxie said, as one of course would. Someone apparently had found a photo of me on line and decided to use it. It’s a horrible picture that used to accompany a column I wrote for the local newspaper. I always thought it made me look like an Irish setter, which is weird because I’m not Irish. I also don’t wear dentures.
Secret #2: My daughter is named after a World War 2 bomber.
My daughter’s middle name is Halifax, not after the city we were both born in but after the bomber my father was piloting when he won a Distinguished Flying Cross for Valour in The Second World War. One of his engines had been shot off and the plane was on fire so he commanded his crew to abandon their posts and prepare to bale out. In the end, he was able to land the plane safely and everyone survived. He was twenty years old at the time. I wanted to honour his courage so named my daughter Halifax. My novel, Small Bones, is dedicated to him. The inscription at the beginning of the book is the toast the boys used on their frequent trips to the pub. It’s just one illustration of their black humour in the face of pretty extreme danger. (Bomber Command was a particularly dangerous line of work. Only one in six airmen would survive their tour of duty. My dad miraculously survived thirty-three missions over Nazi Germany but dealt with the physical and emotional consequences for the rest of his life.
Secret #3: I recently ended up admitted to The Children’s Hospital. (I even had to wear the little yellow striped Johnny Shirt.)
My youngest child–the one I named for courage–sometimes misuses it, This usually means goofing around when other more sensible people wouldn’t, which is how she landed in the hospital when she was 15. She was out with friends and decided to perform some type of dance on a pole at a bus stop. (I’m struggling not to refer to it as a pole dance, but you get the idea.) The result: a large open gash on her leg. She called me, laughing, to say I should come to the Children’s Hospital immediately.
Before I go on, one thing you should know about me. I cannot stand the sight, (smell, feel, mention) of blood. I got to the hospital and found my daughter sitting in a wheelchair with a distressingly large bandage around her thigh. She was still laughing. I, on the other hand, was just trying to hold myself together–which, frankly, I did admirably well until my daughter wanted to see how the doctor was doing sewing her up. She took a look at her stitches and said, “Wow. You’re mad skilled!” Not sure why that set me off but next thing I knew I was trying to make a mad dash out of the room before I fainted. Not the best thing to do when you’re feeling woozy. According to my daughter, I ended up doing a pretty amazing Jim Carrey impression–rubber-faced, rubber-legged and babbling–before I hit the floor. I came to, dressed in a little yellow Johnny shirt and hooked up to various heart monitors. My daughter, still laughing, was sitting in the visitor’s chair next to me making her way through the hospital’s popsicle supply. Every time I thought about the mad-skilled doctor, I swooned again. It was four in the morning before the hospital would let my husband take me home. (He was laughing too.)
Interesting sidebar: The Children’s Hospital in Halifax is called the IWK, because nobody wants to come out and admit that it was named after Mr. I. W. Killam. Mr. I. Killam. (Say it out loud and you’ll see why.)
Vicki Grant left her career in advertising and television to write her first novel, The Puppet Wrangler, in 2004. She enjoys writing for young adults, with a particular interest in reluctant readers. Vicki’s books have gone on to win many awards, including the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award in 2006. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband and three children. More information is available at www.vickigrant.com.