My diploma had a gold seal in the corner that was decorated with the RCMP insignia: a front facing buffalo head, the words Maintiens le Droit, maple leaves with a crown at the top over the name Canada, and a scroll at the very bottom with the RCMP title. I received a shiny gold plated badge that bore the same insignia as the diploma only it was silver. The badge also bore the words Police RCMP GRC in two blue scrolls and my regimental number in blue as well.
Graduation day was crisp. Snow covered the grounds and walkways. A frigid smell crystalized in my nostrils. A light dusting of that cold white powder was falling from the sky as we marched in a group of thirty-one; we moved as one body. The white flakes glistened briefly against the rich deep red of our surges before melting into the material and ceasing to have any physical substance. Our high browns slipped and skidded over the icy surfaces and I was sure that if one of us fell our whole troop would go down but we had worked hard both individually and as a group to reach graduation and nothing was slowing us down.
As we marched from the outside to inside the steady beat of 62 feet parading to a regular rhythm grew louder and louder until it ended in a final bang as 31 bodies came to halt together.
I hadn’t wanted to attend this graduation having something a track record for not attending them: high school, college, university. However, absence was not an option and this time I had a husband who was very proud of my accomplishment. Much to my surprise there were a large number in attendance on my behalf, an event that I believed my mother-in-law had a firm hand in given that she was never one to have her role as the head of the family challenged. Never before had I felt such a deep feeling of gratification and recognition.
At the end of the ceremony and all that was involved I was exhausted and eager to get away from it all. We piled into the black Dodge avenger, five adults. I had a distinct feeling of being clowns loading into a clown car, and this feeling quickly intensified. My husband parked the car in the liquor store parking lot and turned off the engine. My dad hoped out of the front passenger’s seat after a brief discussion with his girlfriend who was seat behind him, and he followed my mom into the store. She had jumped out from behind the driver’s seat as soon as the car stopped. Within a few minutes the two of them returned to the car and piled back in, mom had her brown paper bag in her hand not really thinking to put it in the trunk with dads’.
“Cop! COP!” My husband yelled as he sat there with the car off. Mom, dad, and his girlfriend looked like a bunch of owls because their eyes took on the shapes of huge round orbs and their heads started popping back and forth as they swiveled them back and forth trying to find the cop. To top off their hilarious actions they were repeating the word where over and over like an owl hooting.
My husband erupted into laughter, and I was smirking absurdly because I knew from the beginning that he had meant me. Dad caught on to my husband’s joke and in typical fashion slapped his knee and roared with laughter. The other two weren’t so quick to catch on, and between his guffawing he managed to choke out the words “between you” before continuing on with his pleasure at the joke. The other two gapped at me for a moment before mom hoped out to put her purchase in the trunk. And so it began, my life as a police officer.
By Shari Marshall – 2020