The Matter of Dying

Well, the world, and Canada in particular, has lost another one of its stellar people.  At the age of fifty-three, Gord Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip music group, succumbed to the brain cancer that had been a part of his life for the past two years. But before Gord left he made sure to leave a lovely legacy of love with us. His music, poetry, writings, quotes, and general “live for love” attitude will long remain in the minds of those who knew him or of him in his lifetime.

Here is a short clip from a Tragically Hip statement on Gord’s death:

Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.

Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived “the life” for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.

There are those of us who have lived a lengthy life and are ready to ready to make that next step.

And then, like Gord Downie, there are those of us whose lives are brought to a close long before we think our time is up.

It’s a matter of how well we live our lives that counts, how much good we do, how much love we share while we are here that counts because in the end every single one of us will experience the matter of dying. Gord did it so well.

RIP Gord Downie.

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV







Beautiful People

The world is full of beautiful people. Last Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the most beautiful people I know. They are the epitome of caring, kindness, goodness, generosity, selflessness. Not a week goes by that these people are not expressing one or more of these attributes to someone, somewhere, at some time.

On that Wednesday evening, a friend and I were the recipients of this couple’s generosity. We were treated to dinner out and a concert featuring Handel’s “Messiah” which has been performed by many musical companies around the world. The only thing I really knew about the “Messiah” was the “Hallelujah” chorus, one of my favourite pieces of music.

In 1741 George Frideric Handel took something like fifty-two scriptures from the Holy Bible and put them to music, resulting in one of the most renowned musical compositions ever written. The work is breathtaking. Hallelujah!

Wednesday evening was bitterly cold and slippery but the warmth and concern of our benefactors made this a non-issue. I have never felt so warm and safe in such cold weather, despite the fact that I wore non-tread boots and no hat.

As I said, the world is full of beautiful people, and I am thankful to know these friends who inhabit my little corner of the world.

After experiencing the “Messiah” I have to include its composer George Frideric Handel in that group.

Life would be less beautiful without the composers of beautiful music and those who bless others with beautiful deeds. Thank you, God, for beautiful people.




On The Sidewalk of Life

On Monday of this week, I had the sad opportunity to attend the funeral of a fifty-two-year-old young man who was a long-time member of my church. Andrew was the epitome of good nature, good deeds, and good looks. He was also the recipient of ominous cardiovascular genetics. His father and brother both died of this deadly disease at a very early age. Although his mother also had the gene, she did live a longer life, and Andrew became her solitary caregiver after she suffered a stroke in her early seventies.

This young man took care of his mother in the same way she cared for him as a child. He was always by her side, taking her to movies, out to dinner, to church functions, and to church every Sunday. When Andrew smiled, it lit up a room; when he laughed, it could be heard clear across Scarborough, and if Andrew cried, nobody heard it.

And his good works didn’t stop with his mother. On one occasion, I met Andrew when he was shopping at a Superstore where I had just purchased a patio set of table, four chairs and an umbrella. Seeing me trying to cram this whole set into my little Kia Magentis, totally without success, Andrew promptly pulled his van up behind me and loaded my patio furniture into it. “Where to, Patricia?” he asked with his famous brilliant smile. He followed me to my house, unloaded my set, and offered to put it all together for me. But I declined that extra service and sent him on his way, with a huge hug of thanks, to get his mother’s groceries. Not long after that, Andrew’s mother suffered a major stroke which ended her life, and saw him handle the final act of seeing to his mom’s last wishes.

That’s how Andrew walked the sidewalk of life. Everything he did was from the goodness of his heart; one that never functioned physically the way it was meant to.

After his mother’s death, Andrew began admitting to having problems with his heart. In spite of that, he picked up the pieces of life without his mom, and carried on living with a new sense of freedom, when he wasn’t in hospital for one procedure or another.

And then Andrew was gone. A massive heart attack took him in his sleep. I’m told he knew his days were numbered, but not for one moment do I believe that he gave in to self pity. I’m told that on his final day on earth, he mentioned to a neighbour that he wasn’t feeling well but went about filling the bird bath and feeder so that his feathered friends were looked after. That’s the kind of guy he was.

As the clergyman who did his funeral service told us, this good natured young man got off the sidewalk of life and onto the stairway to Heaven.  And he only did so after a final act of kindness.

Can you imagine how many angels were waiting for Andrew at the top of that stairway?