Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some personal thoughts on the month of April

It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote in this space, and since the last posting a lot has happened in the life of this reporter. I usually try to confine my comments to music and arts-related topics, but occasionally I venture outside those parameters when the need arises. This is one of those times.

The last weekend I wrote, my father was in the hospital after taking a bad fall at the retirement home we moved him to last year. I thought at the time it wasn't that serious, but during the course of that weekend it became apparent the injuries were more severe than first thought. As a result, early Monday morning, April 20th, Dad passed away peacefully in his sleep. Not wanting to get into specifics of the accident, let me just say it drives home the fact we should all be more careful when we grow older, and keep a close watch on those in our care who do fall in their later years. It sometimes results in nothing more than a few bumps and bruises; however, oftentimes the results are more far reaching. This was the case with my Dad.

So, work and work-related tasks all took a backseat to dealing with family matters for a couple of weeks, as we made arrangements for the funeral, which was last Friday. The time since has been full of reflection on my part and beginning the long process of putting Dad's affairs in order now that he is gone. Fortunately for me, Dad cared enough to put as much in place before he left as he possibly could, so the jobs I have to do are much easier than they could have been. But it raises some salient points I think we should all consider in the weeks and months to come:

Do you have a will?
Is your funeral preplanned?
Is your life insurance in place and paid up?
Are your financial affairs in a joint arrangement with someone in a position of care should something happen to you?

Dad didn't take care of all of these things, but much of it he had, and as a result my life is a lot easier in this post-passing period I am now in. Once I finish with Dad's affairs, I plan to begin the process of getting all my affairs in order, and I would suggest you do the same.

Dad was a kind, gentle man who lived his life simply and without fanfare. Yet, his impression on those around him was great; in his former home on Towering Heights and in only a year and a bit at St. Catharines Place, Dad made a huge impression on those around him, and everyone has felt the loss of a great man I had the honour of calling my father. He will be missed by many, but most of all by me; there is an emptiness inside me now I feel each and every day.

While this event was unfolding, I found the news one of my dear colleagues at CKTB RADIO, recently-retired newsman Les Walton, suffered a massive stroke and after a couple of days on life support, passed away peacefully April 23rd with his family at his side. Les was my age, 52, and that hit me pretty hard when I received the news. I attended the visitation last weekend, which was one of the best-attended visitations I can ever recall; everyone, it seems, both within the radio industry and outside it, wanted to pay tribute to a great newsman we lost far too soon. I missed the funeral last Monday, unfortunately, as I was clearing out my Dad's room at St. Catharines Place with the help of family members. From what I hear, the crowd filled the church in Merritton to overflowing.

Les was the consummate newsman: firm but friendly; getting to the heart of the story quickly; knowing what mattered when writing up a story. He possessed the most resonant voice I have ever heard, and now it is silenced forever. Rest easy, good friend. you will be missed.

So, that is what has been on my mind the last couple of weeks. I hope you'll forgive me for writing on this topic today, but in a way, I had to. It helps with the healing process, I think, as we try to get back to a semblance of normalcy in our lives after some very personal upheaval.

By the way, just so I keep some musical content in my entry this week, I will be attending the Niagara Symphony Pops! concerts this weekend, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Centre for the Arts, Brock University. Associate Conductor Laura Thomas has fashioned an interesting collection of music under the title A Passage to India, and it promises to be a wonderful diversion for yours truly. Tickets are still available for both performances through the Brock box office; if you go, stop and say hello in the lobby, as I will be set up both times with my usual collection of musical treasures available for purchase through A Web of Fine Music.

See you there!

May 2nd, 2009.

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