It was three years ago, in summer, that I stopped to chat with Imogene as she tended her most remarkable garden. As luck would have it, I walked/walk Max regularly at the off leash park across from her home and so, with my love of gardens, I watched the progress of her amazing blooms throughout the summer and into autumn. I became curious about many of her plants and so this one day, with a brilliant blue sky above us, I pulled my van over and got out to chat.
It was with a generous spirit that she welcomed my questions about perennials and nurturing gardens and she extended her good will to a wander into her back yard gardens and a most amazing and deepening conversation. In my mind, she was brilliant…a truly remarkable, smart and witty woman. Our chat in the back yard garden inspired me and I wondered, “How is this even possible that life should be this magical, one moment to the next?”
And then I met Norman. What a blessing! And I hope that my readers will take the time to read the publisher’s remarks and his biography here.
I write about Norman and Imogene because just two days ago, I had my annual summer chat with Imogene. I stopped, as is usual, to remark on the state of her gardens. I will respect her privacy and will hold myself back from publishing a photograph here, but suffice it to say that there are NO gardens in Calgary like Imogene’s and NO grass like Norman’s.
At our meeting, we had the most precious fifteen minute conversation that I have shared with someone in a very long time. We spoke of flowers and Spain…health and sons…and then she spoke of her love for Norman. I get chills as I type the words, ‘love for Norman’ because I remember the look in her eyes as she spoke to me. Her thoughts are invaluable and are only paraphrased here. ‘Live for the present moment. It is what we have. Forgive. Do what is healthy. Work hard, but also let go of those things that are unnecessary. Pay someone else to mow your yard if you are tired OR do it another day. (this, it seemed as she spoke, is a metaphor for all of our busy-ness). Love passionately. Grow flowers.’ I always feel to be a better person when I leave my garden-conversations with Imogene. I will ask her one day if I can take her picture. I can not possibly capture her face with words…she is beautiful because she lives beautifully. Her last words to me two days ago were that she would write about our meeting in her night-time journaling…and so today, I am doing the same.
“Norman Henry Kendrick was born in the village of Southwick, now part of the city of Sunderland in the county of Durham, in the North-East of England.
His father, a Liverpudlian of Scottish blood, was a petty officer, gunnery, in the Royal Navy from the age of 15 and saw action in the North Atlantic and with the Russian and Malta convoys.
His mother was a busy housewife, with three sons and an absent husband. She came from a long line of respected clairvoyants and was active in the spiritualist church.
His grandfather, on his mother’s side, became a coal-miner, from necessity, at the tender age of nine and, with determination and tenacity, became very well self-educated, sharing his knowledge with his grand-children.
Norman grew up, during World War II, to the sound of riveter’s hammers and the flash of welding arcs from the numerous, war-driven shipyards of the river Wear, with the resulting intense, industrial pollution and smog.
In the background was the constant, throbbing hum from the busy Wearmouth Colliery as it fueled the war industry. At night, he was kept awake by the menacing drone of hundreds of Nazi bombers, flying overhead to terrible destinations. On their return, dropping their remaining bombs on the town.
Yet, less than a mile away, the lush, green countryside began, reaching north across Durham, Northumberland and the wide-open spaces of Scotland. Excellent cycling country.
He became an apprentice, studied at night-school three nights a week, studied music, pianoforte, on the other nights and at weekends, walked and cycled to keep fit and eventually worked as a Marine Engineer, both on land and sea, then as a teacher. This wasn’t exceptional as most of his friends were working, and playing, just as hard, meeting the challenge of the post-war world.
He will always love the area where he was born: Hadrian’s Wall, the wind-swept, heather-covered moors of the Brontes, Wordsworth’s Lake District, Burns country – just over the border, the Viking-haunted coast-line, the ruined abbeys, the castles, the towering cathedrals with their beautiful, choral music and especially the warm, friendly people of the North of England.
Norman, his wife, Imogene – a State Registered Nurse caring for the severely injured coal miners and shipyard workers in the Monkwearmouth Orthopaedic and Accident Hospital – who shares his love of music, literature, drama and travel, and their three sons and grand-daughter, now live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, close to the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where they have lived, and worked, since 1969.”
Poems of Innocence
You might never have read a single poem since leaving school, but beware! You are looking back through the eyes of the child you once were. Look now, through the eyes of experience, at these fascinating poems by Norman Henry Kendrick.
I am very sad that just today, I learned that both Gene and Norman have passed…they lived such a rich and beautiful life and while I was just a dog-walking, passer-by, they both generously included me in their lives with stories and flowers. May they be blessed in the everlasting, always.
Kendrick, Imogene “Gene”
October 24, 1938 – September 23, 2016
Gene Kendrick passed away on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the age of 77 years. Gene was born at home on October 24,1938 in the northeast of England in the town of Sunderland. She was the eldest of four childrenGene attended Chester Road School in Sunderland and was trained as a nurse at the Orthopaedic and Accident Hospital. She worked at the Royal Bolton hospital in England for several years. Gene met Norman Kendrick at aged seventeen and the two were married on April 3, 1961. They immigrated to Canada in 1969 and settled in Lake Bonavista in Calgary, AB. Gene worked at the Rockyview Hospital for several years before moving into different jobs including the oil industry. Her best job was to raise her three sons. Her favorite activities included ballroom dancing, gardening, cooking, books, walking, fine needlework, and listening to Norman play music and read poetry.
Kendrick, Norman Henry
August 26, 1934 – November 9, 2016
Norman Kendrick passed away on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the age of 82. He will be missed by his three sons John, Andrew, and Stephen; grandchildren Ashley and Johannes; as well as extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Gene. As per Norman’s request, an informal gathering will be held to celebrate his life.
Norman grew up in Sunderland, England which is where he met Gene. He preserved in times of great hardship and trained as a mechanical engineer. He worked in shipbuilding and spent time at sea, traveling the world from the coast of Africa to India and through the Suez Canal. He went on to train as a teacher and taught engineering for several years in England, before moving with his young family to Canada. He taught physics for a number of years before he retired, freeing his time to travel.
Norman and Gene spent many winters in Spain, Portugal and Italy where they would dance the night away. Norman was an avid history buff and enthralled himself in the history of these areas. Together, they loved to meet people and truly get to know them. Norman was a talented pianist and a great intellect. Norman also loved poetry and published a book “Poems of Innocence”. Here is one of his poems:
Lots To Do.
If I were God, I wouldn’t hang around here!
Not while there are supernovae to watch,
And galaxies colliding.
I would leave everything on automatic,
With life genetically programmed
To repeat itself, ad interim.
With a few, built-in limiting devices,
Such as the atmosphere, an erratic food supply, sex,
Power-hunger, the speed of light, natural calamities,
Death, religion, greed, disease – to name a few –
And some chance, genetic surprises!
And I would go off…
And have fun!