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“Pierre Trudeau made me cry again today”

I did find Mozart’s Requiem and will listen at some point, but right now, as I listen to Randy Bachman, I’m going through my Documents file on the Mac, starting when it does, in 2001. How much I wrote, how many good pieces polished and sent out to one place, at most two, and then, when they were not accepted, just abandoned. It seems unfair that to succeed at this business, we have to be good not just at writing and editing, which is hard enough, but at accepting inevitable rejection and getting stuff out into the world. Which can be harder.

I found this short piece which never found a home and thought, in light of recent events in Canada, that you might enjoy it. I wrote it in 2004.

Pierre Trudeau made me cry again
today. Like many Canadians I was surprised at the time of his death, and many
days after, by how moved I was; how much I missed him. I cried a lot. Some of my
friends out west did not feel the same way and were disgusted by all the
emotion. But I’ve never felt as Canadian as I did watching Trudeau’s funeral,
when Sacha and Justin, the boys we’d watched grow from infancy to manhood,
spoke before an illustrious audience in perfect French and English, and in
poetry, about their extraordinary father.
But today came another hit of grief
– a picture of Margaret Trudeau, looking haggard, above an article
about an interview she did on TVO. She apparently talked openly, with her usual
alarming candour, about the last days of her ex-husband. I was heartened to
hear that Pierre Trudeau accepted death unafraid and head-on, as he seemed to
deal with everything in life; that, she said, he was ‘resigned.’ It
was painful to read that on the morning of his death, he woke with tears
rolling down his face: Trudeau the Don Juan, the twirler, wealthy, brilliant
and sleek, weeping, at death’s door. But I burst into my own tears when she
spoke of his main concern about dying – that he would be unable to watch his
nine-year old daughter grow up. 
Through the years, I came to admire
Pierre Trudeau not just as a politician but as a man. I was lucky enough,
once, to be dazzled in person by his wit and physical prowess; through the
evening at a big party at the National Arts Centre, I felt every female in the
room, old and young, including me, pointed in his direction, like compasses to
the Magnetic North. But what really appealed to me about him was the fact that
this famous world leader had become, more than anything else, a single father. A
single parent too, I was aware that despite his spectacular affairs, Pierre
Trudeau lived alone for almost all of his divorced years, focussed on raising
his sons. Raising engaged, open-hearted young men more or less by himself,
because Margaret was with her own new family, in another city. How connected he
was to his sons was visible at the funeral of his youngest, Michel. The blind
devastation on his face was unbearable. I wasn’t surprised to hear, not long
after, of his own mortal illness. 
And at the end, he died, accompanied not only by his two surviving sons, but with his still-adoring ex-wife at
his bedside. Margaret, once his nemesis, was there to care for him when it
mattered most. Those are his greatest successes, as far as I’m concerned: that
despite his very busy life he was a generous, available, committed father; that
he made peace with the one person it might have been most difficult to forgive;
and that he gave the greatest of gifts to his little girl: he left her knowing
how greatly, how deeply she was loved.



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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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