Monday, 22 August 2011


Our family received news last night that my Grandpa is reaching the end of his battle with cancer. All of a sudden and in a flurry, I am trying to plan a trip out west to see him before he returns home to heaven. Things seem upside down and rushing by and going round and round all at once.

Then, in the midst of all this planning, the morning radio news show announced that Jack Layton, the Leader of the Opposition party of our country's government passed away after battling cancer. It was a sudden and unexpected death for the public, as Layton had announced he was only stepping aside for the summer to receive treatment, but would be back for the fall parliament session.

Why on earth am I writing about these two events together? Because somehow I think the loss of Layton has prepared me for the eventual passing of my grandfather. While I didn't think Jack would ever return to politics, I sort of thought he would be around for another few years, perhaps still fighting, maybe temporarily in remission. His passing within months of stepping aside highlights the reality of cancer, and how quick it can move. Up until last week, my grandfather was on vacation in an RV with my grandmother. Today I am told he could slip into a coma at any time. Life can take a sharp turn at any moment. Often I think the shock of sudden death deepens the pain of loss in a sharp facet.

It feels as though my grandfather's life was interrupted, but inside I know this was the end of his journey on earth. He spent his life in service to his fellowman as a doctor. I had always wanted to fly out there after he retired and film some interviews with him, to document the incredible stories he has of a medical career in the northern territories of Canada. He and my grandmother had plans to write about it together, although I'm not sure if they ever got to that. My grandfather's passion for medicine led him to work right up until last year. His retirement had only just begun, with plans for travel and writing and much, much more just beginning. It is a sharp regret that I never had the chance to do this project. Perhaps there are enough stories written and gathered that I could still compile something, although the private thoughts of my grandfather will likely pass with him.

I am grateful to know I can see him again. I am grateful for families that do not end in this life. I am grateful for a lifetime of memories, and for the chance to hopefully fly out to be with my family later this week.