Sam Thompson was born on Feb. 6, 1941, in a small village called Moneyreagh, located around 16 kilometres south of Belfast.
He attended primary school until he was 11 years old and life was pretty calm, but it wouldn’t always be.
He had two younger brothers and the going was tough in Ireland.
The Thompson family lived in a little brick bungalow in Moneyreagh with no water and no flush toilet.
“Those times moulded me for the future,” Thompson said. “They toughened me up to face whatever would come along in life.”
Thompson was in school until he was 16.
With the family unable to afford to pay for university, he decided to get a job.
After applying for various jobs, he landed one at the largest newspaper company in Belfast.
“The pay was horrible,” Thompson said, making only $7 a week.
During this time, Thompson learned he could immigrate to Australia for 10 pounds and this piqued his interest.
With enthusiasm, he took the paperwork home to his parents only to be told by his mother, “No way are you going off to Australia at 16!”
At 20, Thompson gathered as much money as he could and off to Australia he went via train and ship.
After arriving in Perth, he sailed into Melbourne.
With only 15 pounds in his pocket, he was greeted by his aunt and uncle who resided in Morwell. Jobs were easy to come by compared to Belfast, and Thompson got a job right away at a printing company in Melbourne.
Later, Thompson returned to Perth and bought a 650cc bsa motorcycle and carried on towards New Zealand with a friend.
On his journey to Auckland, Thompson passed through a town called Tokora where he landed a job in a papermill. He saved up more money and after five months, he had enough to carry on.
He wanted to go home to see his family, but didn’t want to fly as he would miss a lot of sightseeing.
So instead, it took him five months to get back to Ireland, travelling through places like Singapore. Thompson’s brother was stationed on Singapore Island.
The two haven’t seen each other in a while at this point and when the moment came where they came face to face,
Thompson said with a chuckle, “My brother was disgusted at my appearance.”
He couldn’t believe how Thompson had changed so much. He cleaned him up to his liking and they had a nice visit.
Thompson’s journey took to all kinds of places where he met a variety of people. He eventually returned home to Ireland to see his family.
A lot had changed, his parents had aged and he had as well.
One of Thompson’s favourite memories in all his travels is a time when he landed himself in hot water at an airport in Columbia.
Thompson had purchased some gems in his travels, which he had rolled up in a handkerchief tucked into his sleeping bag. The guards at the airport unrolled his sleeping bag and found five blue sapphires.
Thompson was then taken to another room where he was stripped and searched. They found undeclared monies from various countries.
The guard said, “You’re being silly, you could lose everything you own.”
Thompson’s reply was, “Yeah, but you won’t do that.”
The guard asked why and Thompson replied, “Because you’re a nice man and you’re looking for drugs and I don’t have any.”
The guard insisted Thompson put his clothes back on and report his story to the chief customs officer.
“If you take the sapphires it will be on your conscience for the rest of your life because those are for my mother in Ireland who is in a wheelchair,” Thompson recalled telling the guard.
The sapphires were returned and the guard said a fine would be issued.
After Thompson paid them one English pound, the guards told him to be on his way.
In truth, the sapphires weren’t really for his mother, but he wasn’t sure who they would be for. Soon, that would be revealed.
Thompson met the love of his life in Vancouver: Doreen. The two would marry Sept. 10, 1971.
Those beautiful sapphires would end up being custom-designed into their wedding rings.
The couple would seem oddly connected as Doreen was a suburban mother of three and Thompson was a travelling musician, but they were twin flames – meant to be together!
She and her man enjoyed travelling the world together.
The two bought beautiful waterfront property in Australia and enjoyed their home very much.
After Doreen’s passing, Thompson made the decision to move back to British Columbia to be closer to his son’s family.
Thompson has an attitude that when something ends, you don’t mope.
Instead, you get ready for the next thing to look forward to. And that is what he did.
Off on his quad enjoying the outdoors, or singing and playing music with his grandchildren, Thompson always brings laughter into the room.
As life has ups and downs, Thompson experienced some health concerns which caused challenges with his walking.
After time spent in the hospital, Thompson eventually came to the Heaton Place Retirement Residence in Armstrong where he enjoys being pampered with delicious meals and friendly staff.
Read more of Thompson’s story on VernonMorningStar.com.