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watching the funeral

Drained, my eyes puffy, drinking a cold glass of rosé in an attempt to recover. I cycled down to King Street this afternoon, to be with many thousands of others, standing in the street watching on giant monitors the celebration of Jack’s life, which was being conducted just behind us in Roy Thomson Hall. So much orange! (FYI, I was wearing an orange summer dress that I bought at a street market in Provence.)

The whole thing was extraordinary – to see the political elite of Canada sitting in rows, hearing talk after talk about social justice, inclusion, equality, freedom, generosity. The Honourable John Baird (an oxymoron) had to listen, Rob Ford, Tony Clement, our fine Prime Minister. What must these right-wing men have thought? Is it possible, as I wrote before, that a sliver of Jack’s spirit entered their consciousnesses? That politics will be different from now on in Canada, even temporarily?
There was so much that was moving and beautiful – the whole thing, in fact. The native prayer at the beginning; the vital Quebecois singer who, we gradually came to see, had only one hand and one leg; Stephen Page singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah;” the video about Jack’s life that was like an ad for the NDP (woo hoo!); Rev. Brent Hawkes, telling us that Jack always asked him, first, “Brent, how’s John?” – John is the Reverend’s husband – and later, the Rev. asking the Prime Minister, “Mr. Harper – how’s Laureen?”
Jack’s children, so moving, natural and honest, speaking of, and to, their dad. Olivia’s extraordinary dignity and beauty.
And mostly – Mr. Stephen Lewis, making the speech of a lifetime. I stood outside on King Street, trying to shield myself from the sun, tears running down my face – and best of all, surrounded by thousands who felt the same way. All of us, applauding, cheering, ringing bicycle bells, weeping. I’m so glad he mentioned the War Measures Act, which the NDP opposed to the hooting derision of the other parties; that more recently, Jack demanded negotiation with the Taliban, again derided by others, now considered one way to help end the war.
Lorraine Segato belted out her anthem “Rise Up”; what a star she is. Two people standing nearby asked me who she was. “Lorraine Segato sings with the band the Parachute Club,” I told them. “She’s married to Stephen Lewis’s daughter.” As I said after their wedding – how I love this country.
Afterward, all those orange t-shirts climbed onto bicycles and rode away, the streets for blocks around closed off by police and filled with people. This, for a socialist politician. How I love this country. As soon as I got home, the phone rang – my mother, also sodden. And then my daughter, who was working but managed to watch.
Now to see if any of it – all those admonitions to love one another – sticks.
P.S. And to cheer us all up – This Hour has 22 Minutes has compiled a selection of their funny times with Jack. A joy to watch.



2 Responses to “watching the funeral”

  1. Deb Reynolds says:

    Hi Beth
    I came across your blog after doing a search for Lorraine Segato (wanting to post a video of "Rise Up") and read your wedding blog, which then led me here. I'd love to share this on my blog. On Wednesdays, I share something I love from the web – something word-based. I'd love to share this. My blog is:
    I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  2. beth says:

    Deb, hi, good to hear from you. I enjoyed reading your blog too – much in common, gardens, music, musing – Mary Oliver, I think I've even posted that very poem.
    Are you asking to post this entry or a link to it on your own blog? Of course, that would be wonderful.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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