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A new story was added to the lobster pot Christmas tree in the Municipality of Barrington in southwestern Nova Scotia this past holiday season.
It’s a tale of pure love and heartbreaking loss.
Like so many young people do, Abigail Bradley and James Ross had made their way west to seek their fortune about seven years ago. The two, who are from Shelburne County, met after moving to Alberta and fell in love.
On Sept. 2, 2019, James asked Abigail for her hand in marriage. The couple made plans to be married on July 24, 2020.
On the home front however, Abigail’s mom Angela was battling cancer and the prognosis didn’t look good.
“With mom’s health results changing we changed our wedding date to Jan. 4. My mother told every doctor to keep her alive until my wedding day,” says Abigail.
“On Dec. 21, I received the most devastating phone call of my life. Mom called me crying, apologizing that she would not be able to hold on until my wedding. With a short conversation James and I made an easy decision. Within what felt like seconds we had booked the next available flight home.”
Abigail says when they called her mom to tell her the news, “I could hear the smile in her voice. I’m going to see my baby get married.”
Less than 48 hours later, the couple were back in Nova Scotia, getting married in the living room of Abigail’s childhood home.
“Mom had the biggest smile all day,” says Abigail.
Two days later, on Christmas Day, Angela passed away.
Abigail says while she has received many messages from people feeling bad that the couple didn’t have the wedding of their dreams, she can assure them they did.
“On Dec. 23, I married my soulmate, surrounded by more love that could ever be measured," she says.
The newlyweds chose the North East Point beach area for wedding photos because of the beautiful scenery, says Abigail, and also included the lobster pot Christmas tree for a few shots.
“The lobster pot Christmas tree holds a special place in our hearts as we both know people that have been lost at sea, and how life at sea affects everyone from a fishing community,” Abigail says.
The tree is an important place in the heart of the community each holiday season.
On it are buoys placed in remembrance of those who have lost their lives at sea, while other buoys honour those who have, or continue, to draw their livelihood from the sea.
“My grandfather (Connie Goreham) has a buoy on the tree. He wasn’t lost at sea but spent his life as a fisherman," says Abigail. "And both of our fathers are fishermen.”
While the lobster pot Christmas tree is a favorite spot during the holiday season for taking group and family photos, “it was a first for our tree to be used in a wedding photo,” says Suzy Atwood, tourism development coordinator for the Municipality of Barrington.
“I think the background story of Abby and James' wedding day made it that much more special,” Atwood adds.
“I think the tree is an iconic symbol of life in our municipality. I think it represents our history and heritage, but it also represents life and death, hope and fear, sadness and happiness," says Atwood. "I think for a lot of people. It's great comfort too.”
This past season marked the 10th anniversary for the municipality’s lobster pot Christmas tree.
Angela Bradley died at her home in Bear Point, Shelburne County, on Dec. 25.
"Angie touched so many lives with her compassion, her understanding, and her good humour," her obituary read.
And she touched those lives with her love as well.
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