Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Good Man

Just yesterday, I lost a very lovely man in my family.

My father's cousin passed away suddenly and quietly.  It was a complete shock to all of us, especially as we were headed to his home for the day in White Rock.

As we are a small family, even our 'second cousins' are close, so his passing is a very sad thing for us.  My parents and I headed to White Rock to be with his wife and children (who are not children anymore, and haven't been for a long time, but you are always someone's baby right?).

It was my father's job to call everyone back in Alberta to alert them of his death.  As he was making calls, he noted that news would travel fast using the 'farm morse code'.  This is what I love about where we all come from.  Gossip, good or bad, travels fast.  People come out in droves bearing squares and dainties.  And the community always bands together.

Like me, Alec was really proud to be from a farm in Alberta.  Even though he left at a young age to become an Engineer; he always knew our rural community was home.  And in true prairie fashion, he passed away while eating breakfast, about to head out for a game of curling.

His sister-in-law, a recent widow herself, talked about how lucky I was to be entering this stage in my life.  She said she would give anything to be back in her youth, in love, and planning her wedding - planning her life really.  She said this time is so magical.  All the women agreed.  I choked up.  She told me to treasure these moments because life can be taken away when you least expect it.  We take each other for granted, but someday, as she put it, you will lose what feels like your right arm.

It's a lesson I hope we can all think about.  As we grow older, and our weddings are over, our children are grown, to look at our partners and try to remember that fleeting feeling of falling in love.

In my case, I thought about my own dad.  Here my cousins are, adults, but losing a constant in their life. So I hugged my dad, awkwardly.  Who then told me he might die of cancer.  Not that he has it, he just could.  My mum told him he has terrible timing.

I think Alec was full of lessons. In life and death.  In his life, he worked hard and showed loyalty to one company for over forty years.  In retirement, he lived everyday fully, even with the diabetes that led to yesterday.  He curled, lawn bowled, played bridge, and traveled the world. In fact, he just got home from Hawaii last week.  Instead of moping in his older years, he embraced retirement joyfully.

In death, his lesson is to love your spouse, no matter how grouchy he gets.  Or how much she nags.

And to give your dad a hug.

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