Wednesday, 12 February 2014


'This is a letter which, at first, refused to be.  Overwhelmed with aching sadness, for days I simply stared at a taunting blank page incapable of 'putting pen to paper' and expressing my emotions in words. From high school days, you, Jim and I have enjoyed a long, loving, happy friendship.  Memories flooded in and I couldn't bear to say goodbye. My brain churned in anger.  Misdiagnosed by medical experts, your cancer was allowed to advance undetected, to Stage 4. It had metastasized and you were at the point of no return.  How could this possibly happen? my mind demanded.   Why do you take the best? I yelled at God.  Did I thank you frequently enough for your friendship and for your professional guidance?  I was tortured with "Did  I's?"  

Our son, Christopher and the moving beauty of your Memorial Service today, have thankfully released my floodgates. Christopher, devastated upon receiving the heartbreaking news, phoned from St. John's. In conversation he lovingly gave me permission not to write, permission I was unable to grant myself. As this self-imposed giant weight lifted from my shoulders, my thoughts miraculously coalesced. Your best and lifelong friend, David Onley....or should I say the Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.....eloquently gave today an emotion-filled, often teary eyed, tribute in which he laid out his grieving heart.  If David can so speak, I can so write, if only for myself. My memories and thank you's could fill a novel the size of War and Peace, but, for you, John, I will keep it concise.

And so, dear friend, no more silly notes with funny faces scribbled on income tax receipts, business financial papers, etc.  No more joking phone calls.  This is my final letter to you. Serious, this time.  For closure, I need, as Faye Hamilton kindly advised, to wrap myself in warm memories and, one more time, to say thank you.

In sub-zero temperatures, New Year's Eve's skating at City Hall followed by garlic-infused meals and insane charade games until the dawn hours of New Year's Day.  What were we thinking and how did we do that?  Couldn't be that wine was our fuel, could it? Your love of Italian food and learning to make pasta in your home.  Many, many sumptuous dinners followed by crazy board games. Small wonder Shelley and I lost, you and Jim cheated! Just sayin'. Sailing on Lake Ontario followed by laughter-filled BBQ's on the Club deck. Fiery political discussions.  Could we have been more diametrically opposed?  But with much mutual respect, we always agreed to disagree.  Oh, how I will miss those debates.  Thank you, dear John, for your loyal friendship. 

So brilliant was your mind that you experienced difficuly in determing the best direction in university.  No avenue was impossible for one so talented. The possibilities were mind boggling.   Long discussions with my Father, who so enjoyed your intelligent company, lead you ultimately to becoming a Chartered Accountant.  After my Father passed away in 1985, we discovered that you had set up a scholarship at U. of T. in his name as a thank you for his guiding you to the path you ultimately chose.  No fanfare.  Just a quiet, incredible act of thoughtfulness.  I like to think that those discussions with Dad will now pick up where they left off.  Please give my Father my love. And thank you, dear John, for your generous kindness.

How many years were there of tax planning advisements and filings as I progressed though a career as a real estate sales representative, then broker, then brokerage owner?  In a field upon which Revenue Canada takes perverse pleasure in picking, never once was I personally audited.  No red flags on my filings. You kept me on the straight and narrow.  Intrinsically a real estate and people person, with the exception of mortgages, I abhor anything labeled "financial". With great expertise and welcome advice, you took over my brokerage books.  In 2007, Revenue Canada performed a sweeping audit of real estate brokerages and into that net we fell.  I never worried.  I ran a squeaky clean operation and I knew, because of you, our books would be correct, accurate and honest.  How much fun it was to watch that humourless, sour-faced auditor dig for five days, but to no avail.  Grudgingly upon her departure, she complimented me on impeccable books.  I bit my tongue and showed restraint before could retort, Why did we waste everyone's valuable time?  I could have told you that! You saw me through the successful sale of Royal LePage York North Realty and advised Jim and I as we moved into retirement. Thank you, dear John, for your sage, professional counsel.

On Saturday, we attended a long awaited, joyous wedding.  I know that Katie and Mike, the newly weds, look forward to starting a family.  Funny, but that thought is, at this moment, holding me together.  I tell myself that life moves forward, generation to generation. If we cannot keep you here with us, then I must be grateful for the time we enjoyed with you.  

Goodbye, my dear friend.  You will remain in our hearts and thoughts.  You will be deeply missed.


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