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#TheSoapbox: 3, 2, 1 blast off! An old red truck, Elton John, and a road trip to Gettysburg

Tara-lee Lecours and her stepfather, Tom, were supposed to share a special trip, but he passed away suddenly last year. Now, she’s taking the special trip on her own in her stepdad’s truck
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By Tara-lee Lecours  

It will be a year at the end of March that my stepfather, Tom, passed away. I had just returned home two days prior from visiting him in Toronto, where he had been residing with my brother, Jason, for the past couple of years. 

I can still remember the Sunday afternoon when I got the call, walking into one of my favourite stores after finishing a delicious lunch, the sun melting away the last of winter. It was as if all at once, everything stopped, even my feet felt too heavy to move. 

I carried myself back to my vehicle and tried to process what I’d been told. My 67-year-old stepfather, who had been laughing and up to his usual antics just days before, had suffered a massive heart attack while out shopping for the dinner he was making for my brother, who was returning from his trip to Chicago that day. An off-duty nurse running errands had attempted to revive him when he collapsed.   

Born and raised in Copper Cliff, my stepfather, Tom, worked for years at the South Mine and retired from Inco. He loved to golf and was an avid angler and hunter who spent most of his time enjoying the outdoors.  Later in life, he moved to St. Catharines, then to Toronto, to be closer to his best friend, my brother.

Over the past couple of years during my visits to Jason’s, my stepfather and I had reconnected.   We truly enjoyed our time together, getting up early, starting our day with a large cup of coffee on the back deck while my brother savoured the last ounces of sleep before his alarm buzzed.  

The minute Jason left for work, Tom and I would hop into his old truck (nicknamed the ‘Red Rocket’) and head out. How we loved going for breakfast, exploring little shops and thrift stores, and above all, talking about history. 

I can still remember, as a young girl, sliding one of the many volumes of his heavy Time Life books from the shelf and spending hours learning about world events, then drilling him with questions and “did-you-knows?” when he’d walk through the door after a shift. My brother and his dad had golf; that was their thing. Tom and I had history.  

Several months before he passed, we had decided to take a trip. It was going to be an adventure, just for us and it was going to be amazing! He was taking me to Gettysburg. 

In the Red Rocket, we would travel to the 6,000-acre Civil War military park, the famous battle grounds dedicated to the soldiers who fought there, the place which dominated so many of our conversations. Tom had been there once, a couple years before, but he hadn’t seen everything he had wanted due to time constraints and, more importantly, he wanted to share this with me. This was our trip, something special just for us. We were supposed to go last April.

Now, one year later, once spring is here, I will pack up the Red Rocket with some essentials (enough clothes for a few days, some tasty treats, and my notepad and pen.) I’ll plug my GPS in the cigarette lighter socket, put on Tom’s favorite Elton John CD, Rocket Man, and bring my stepdad to Gettysburg.  

Tara-lee Lecours lives in Greater Sudbury.
 




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