Earlier this week a man I have never met, but who had a profound impact on the formative years of my youth passed away at the age of 53. This will not be an homage to him, but his death has caused in me some reflection on life that I wanted to share. Gord Downie died of brain cancer earlier this week, and he was younger than my own father, who also died of cancer that migrated toward his brain at the age of 58. Both tragic, both too soon. All this week in traditional and social media, a nation has mourned the passing of Downie whose unabashedly Canadian music was the soundtrack to my youth, and young adulthood, and whose music transcended generations. Even our PM was emotional as he delivered his own comments on live TV. I did not mark his passing by blaring Trouble at the Henhouse (my favourite Hip album) at full blast, as so many radio stations did this week. I did listen more closely though as “Sleeping Sickness” (this is City and Colour feat. Gord Downie) came on shuffle as I was making breakfast this morning. This is my first posthumous listening, and my thoughts fleeted quickly to my dad, our unfinished discussions, and my family in Canada. If my dad were alive now, what would he think of this adventure I am on? Would we have mended fences enough to have had a meaningful discussion? What would we share between us? What would remain unsaid?
Touche Gord, even in death you inspire. Another song comes on, and since I am now thinking about family I consider my uncle Brian, and I think “hmm, this seems like it would be up Uncle Brian’s alley: “Call Me” by St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I should send it his way, glean his thoughts. Would that I could do the same with music for my dad. I was forever trying to get him to appreciate the modern music I liked based on what I thought he liked. I think he liked the Blackie and Rodeo Kings CD I bought him for Christmas one year, but sadly I cannot say for sure because that is yet another conversation left unsaid. I think to of my mom, all alone in Nova Scotia the closest blood relative half of the second largest country’s distance away. I expect for her, Gord Downie factors little, but know that my dad is never far from her thoughts.
This weekend I ran my first 10k race. It was for charity. Breast cancer. I am saddened in knowing that my dad will never be able to visit us down here in Colombia and watch his grand-daughters grow into amazing women, and sad too because I think he would love it here. He would certainly be a topic of conversation as he went about town, as he would tower over 98% of the population. I regret much with regard to the relationship I had with my father, most I will keep to myself, but suffice it to say we should have spoken more. I made the note to myself that I would do a better job with the family I still have. But so far, I am doing a piss poor job. A mi familia: lo siento. To end on a happy note. My grammie, (my dad’s mother) has also been battling cancer, and while it was looking grim for a while, she was recently given the all-clear, so all is not doom and gloom. To my dad then, wherever he is now, I hope the after-life is treating you well? Hopefully one day we can finish these conversations.