The first time I’d ever heard of Norman Bethune was probably in passing in Grade nine history.

Mr. Regan, our very handsome history teacher, let us choose different topics to present to the class, and one of the topics was Dr. Norman Bethune.

I didn’t pick that one. I picked something about the Palestinian/Israeli situation, but I did recall one thing the kid who picked Bethune said.

He said that Bethune was more revered in China than he was in Canada, even though Bethune was Canadian.

I thought that was very interesting.

This morning we went on a mini getaway. We left at 8 am (on a Sunday!!! Hubby’s a morning person!) and drove north to catch a cruise in Gravenhurst.

We’ve been on pretty much every cruise within a five hour drive’s radius of home. I really liked the Gravenhurst cruise, it’s quite scenic, less cottages and more greenery.

We got there and the ship was moored at the dock. A good sign!

But the parking lot was empty. A bad sign!

When I asked the lady at the counter when the next cruise was, she said Tuesday! The ship didn’t start cruising till Tuesday!


It was too late to go to another place and catch a cruise so we decided to just explore the surroundings of Gravenhurst.

We’d passed a sign that said the Memorial home of Dr. Norman Bethune and I talked hubby and son into going.

Dr. Norman Bethune was born in a tiny little Victorian house down the street from Knox Presbyterian church where his father was a minister.

In the ’70’s the city acquired the house and went about the task of refurbishing it in the style it would have been in the 1890’s when he was born.

He had such an interesting history.

For one thing he graduated from the same university I’ve attended: University of Toronto. And he graduated in the same year as Dr. Banting, the Canadian who invented penicillin.

He became a doctor and then contracted tuberculosis at 26. Then he went to Montreal and made huge strides in thoracic surgery. He said he was destined for greatness and he was going to do something great before he died.

Unlike most of the doctors of his age, he shunned high society and was a strong proponent of universal health care. He said that health care was a basic need (I’m paraphrasing) like bread but doctors were selling it like jewels.

He went to Spain during the war and set up mobile blood transfusion clinics. He invented medical apparatus that’s still in use today!

And finally he went to China during the Communist revolution, under Mao Tse Tung and helped the wounded Chinese who were fighting the Japanese invaders.

The Chinese thought he was invincible.

But one day while operating on a highly infectious soldier without gloves (because he didn’t have any) and with a cut on his finger, he contracted blood poisoning and died on Nov. 12th 1939 at teh age of 49 (my own age).

There were signs in English, French and Chinese, because so many Chinese people come there to see Bethune’s birth place.

It’s a kind of pilgrimage for them.

In fact there was a Chinese family there when we arrived and started strolling the grounds.

The gentleman said to me, “Do you know how Dr. Bethune is?”

And he said it with such pride!

I smiled and said, “Yes.” But honestly, until we watched the ten minute video biography upstairs, I didn’t know enough about the man.

Of course he was not without controversy. He joined the communist party, and that’s probably he was ignored as a Canadian hero for so long.

But in China…

He was buried with full honours in the martyrs graveyard, and Mao Tse Tung himself eulogized him in one of only three essays he ever wrote.

Apparently in the same way we sing the national anthem in our schools before starting the day, the Chinese recite by heart the three essays of Mao Tse Tung  every morning, including the essay that praises the contributions of Dr. Norman Bethune.


It was a very interesting time.

And then afterwards we headed down to a park where we thought there was an antique autoshow but apparently that was yesterday.

So instead we headed up to Bala and partook in the spring studio tour. (We’d always only ever gone in the fall!)

It’s a tour of artists studios where you can purchase some of their art.

Coming back we drove along regional road 13, a little road we’d never traveled before, where the verge on the side of the asphalt was virtually nonexistent and the trees crowded close, often touching boughs overhead.

I was driving and came across a sign for turtle crossing, and thought to myself, “Yeah right! Never ever saw any turtles at those signs.” Then went around the corner, saw what I thought was a rock in the road, but it was too round. I was going too fast to avoid it, but luckily it was situated in between where my tires would go and I saw it duck it’s little  head down right as I drove over it. No sound of any crunching so it was all good!

Later on the same road there was another turtle crossing sign and this time there was a guy with a camera stopped at the side of the road and sure enough, there was a little old tortoise, crossing the pavement. I slowed down this time and we saw it from the back, high stepping in such a cute way, like the asphalt might be warm to the touch.

With lots of interesting conversation between hubby, my son and myself, it was a very pleasant day!

And coming home, I heard back from a friend about the sequel and from everything she said, I realized what I have to do.

It’s going to mean a LOT more work, but I think it will work.

It seems I didn’t connect the dots.

I’ve been adamant that Jameela’s the same character in the sequel as she is in the first book, but I failed to show how she got that way.

Which means either I scrap the idea of a sequel, or I make this the current sequel the ‘third’ in a trilogy, and write another book in between.

I’m tending towards the latter option.

I love the story. I feel so strongly that Wanting Mor is incomplete without this story, so now I just have to connect the dots.

In terms of epiphanies, it’s been pretty powerful.

I have to get up at 5 am to pray Fajr and then leave by 6 am for three presentations at a school in Niagara Falls.

And instead of sleeping, I had to come down here and type out all this stuff right now. And it’s 2:08 am.

When I can’t sleep, when epiphanies and things I’ve experienced, even pleasantly, keep looping around in my brain, the best remedy is to write it down. Only then can I get it out of my head.

And plus I had a coffee. It could be my sleeplessness is due to that. Oh, I’m so sensitive now!

Well, anyhoo, off to bed. To get up in 3 hours.