Six degrees of Steve
My Favourite Cousin Steve, was a paramedic for 35 years. I’ve known him for all my 55 years, I still don’t know how he ended up being a paramedic, although helping others is part of his DNA. He met the love of his life, Henrike, married early, started a family early, and one of my first memories is of my parents coming home from Steve and Henrike’s wedding, when I was four.
I remember my father coming home after visiting the hospital, reporting the safe and healthy arrival of Kevin, their first child, with a full head of Steve’s red hair. All was well in the family. Alisa followed Kevin, and now there are four grandchildren. This is a family with three living generations responding to world crises. Steve served at Ground Zero just days after the towers fell. Alisa is a traumatologist and between dispatches volunteers at an organic farm in Prince Edward County. Her daughter Marita is currently building schools with the Salvation Army (and Alisa) in Guyana. It’s not the first tour for any of them.
When I started working at the OPP, I was thrilled to learn we had a hotline to the ambulance base, about a half mile north of the detachment. I was 19, and in the middle of a barren February midnight shift, I could lift the handset and My Favourite Cousin Steve would answer. That is the kind of comfort he bestows on people.
When Darryl and I moved to Brighton, my Mom called one day and said Steve and Henrike were visiting friends in the area and he wanted to drop in. As a surprise. Which was kind of blown. That’s Mom. Steve showed up at the door, that smile, that hug, and somehow our hometown was part of our new town.
Last September, Steve and Henrike brought friends from New Zealand. They were on their way to Halifax from Bracebridge, via the Codrington Farmers’ Market and Amherst Island, hoping for a stop at Ivanleigh Farms in Smithfield, since Ivanleigh has lots of New Zealand Kunekune pig breeding lines.
Paddy Ann and Rod, cattle farmers in New Zealand, visited with Justin and Jennifer Dorland, whom we profiled a year ago, stopped by Dahlia May Flower Farm’s stall and met Melanie, whom we profiled last spring, and Henrike spoke with Lynn VanderHerberg, whom we profiled in the Autumn 2017 issue. The artists had quite a talk.
As I write this, our heritage writer Lindi Pierce is in New Zealand, with her husband Denis Curtis, who replicates vintage racing motorcycle chasses, and whom we also profiled. During a six-week work trip/vacation, one of their destinations is Lindi’s Crossing, an hour or so north of Teviot, where Paddy Ann (a world class town crier) and her husband Rod live. My Favourite Cousin Steve and Henrike, his wife of 50 years this month, visited there recently. Paddy Ann and Rod visited the Codrington Farmers’ Market. Steve and Henrike love Brighton. Lindi and Den are hoping for a visit to Teviot, and since Den is from Bracebridge, Lincolnshire, England, and took his family to Bracebridge, Ontario when they visited, and where My Favourite Cousin Steve is a councillor, and where Henrike, one of the most remarkable women I have ever met, is an talented artist, it all comes together.
I cherish these incredible coincidences and connections. They make the world smaller. And happier. And livable. Just ask Bill Murtha, whom we also profiled. He’ll tell you a thing or two about connections. Oh yes, he will. He should meet my Favourite Cousin Steve and his amazing wife Henrike. They’d all have another story to tell.
Enough with the philosophizing. I have tomato and pepper seeds to start. Like relationships, they respond well to nurturing, and the results are worth it.
Thanks for turning the page.