I just realized now, for the first time in my life, as I observed two minutes of silence for the fallen in the World Wars and indeed all of the conflicts that have marked the twentieth and now the twenty-first century, that if it hadn't been for World War II, I wouldn't be here today. Seriously.
My maternal grandparents met in London, before my grandfather was called up. He worked in the garment industry; my grandmother modelled the clothes for buyers. Here is how they met: she was changing in an office and he walked in on her while the dress was up over her head. Cor blimey! They became friends - wouldn't you? - and corresponded while he was in training at Lark Hill, on Salisbury Plain. She sent him some khaki socks and came up to visit him when he had some leave. They toured Stonehenge and he proposed. Romantic, in't it? In 1947 they came to Canada, settling in Montreal, and in 1951 my mother came along.
My other grandparents, I know less about - I'm piecing this together from fragments of stories I heard over the years. My grandfather was born in Montreal, in Februrary 1918. I'm pretty sure he grew up in "The Point" - Point St Charles, a working-class area near the Lachine Canal, the railroad, factories and abbattoirs. During World War II, he was training in Newfoundland, which is where he met my grandmother. Here is a photograph of their wedding:
They are gone now, my grandparents. I never knew my paternal grandmother - she died young, of cancer, in the 1960s. My maternal grandmother died in 1997, my paternal grandfather died in 2000, my maternal grandfather died in 2003. They are the dead. But it is because of them and their sacrifices that I live.