Remembering how human beings can endure…
When Patrick heard that Jack Babcock, 107 years old, had become the last surviving Canadian soldier from the First World War and that he lived mere hours away from Vancouver in the eastern Washington city of Spokane, Patrick knew he had to meet him. An incredible opportunity for anybody to actually speak to someone who was there – a young soldier caught up in the excitement of defending his country, over 90 years ago.
Numerous articles had been written about our country’s last soldier after the death of the only other surviving Canadian veteran, Dwight Wilson – and although there was a lot of information to go on, Patrick wanted to hear it from the man himself.
Jack, although he tried, never made it to the front lines and in turn, managed to live another 9 decades. Destiny diverted him from battle and allowed him time to find the girl he would start a family with, have a career, serve in another country’s Army, and be a witness to history of the 20th century as it unfolded.
Patrick, simply found Jack’s home number, and called.
“Make sure you bring along your wife and baby.” Babcock’s second wife, Dot, sounded enthusiastic about the visit with Patrick.
Developing a feature film on this scale involves so much research, listening, learning, hearing stories first hand. Jack and his wife loved the idea of a social scenario, nothing formal: not a structured interview, simply conversation. They had recently been bombarded by multiple interviews from newspapers across Canada, so it was well understood.
Patrick drove down to Spokane with his family on a Sunday afternoon and they arrived at the neatly kept bungalow after a lengthy journey (multiple pit stops), and they were warmly welcomed into Jack and Dot’s home.
Jack was positioned in the middle of the sofa, while Dot sat off to one side. Jack was definitely not slight – thick white hair & solid as a rock with hands that enveloped Patrick’s hand in a handshake.
Jack and Dot have cats, which were an immediate distraction for Patrick’s son Kieran, and although watching Kieran chase the cats around the living room was definitely entertaining, Jack came back to Patrick’s various questions. Patrick wanted to be spontaneous and enjoy the moment, not worried about “getting the good stuff”. The meeting was fantastic with much additional insight gained into remembering how human beings can endure…
Life is amazing…