Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye Jack

Today was the state funeral for Lay.ton.  Of course, I spent 2 1/2 hours on and off in tears but I have to say that the funeral was one of the best I've ever seen.  Truly a celebration of life ... as he wanted it to be.  There were tears, of course, but lots of laughter.  And the whole thing ended on a very high note when Lorr.aine sang Rise Up bringing everyone in the hall to their feet, clapping along.  Now that was nice to see.  And through it all, his wife and family managed to maintain a composure that has earned them the greatest of respect.  Absolutely amazing.

I had the privilege of seeing him off on The Hi.ll on Thursday.  I work only a block away and wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Yes, I have to make up some time at work but how could I not be there?  My dad met and worked with him way back in their municipal politics days, Jack representing the city of Toronto and my dad the mayor of our home town of 5000.  My dad knew there was something different about him.  Jack never forgot my dad and as he transitioned to federal politics he approached my dad to run ... more than once.  It wasn't the right thing for my dad but eventually my dad found his way to the provincial secretaryship of the ND.P in Saskatchewan.  That meant regular meetings of the wider party and that meant working with Jack.  I felt it was important for me to be there Thursday since no one else from my family could be.  And I'm glad I was. 

Leaving Parliament one last time
The day started out looking to be a miserable one.  It was cool and grey and it looked like it would rain later in the day.  Then by noon the clouds had been pushed out to be replaced by a nearly cloudless bright blue sky.  The ceremony was sombre and dignified but uplifting at the same time.  The second song played on the carillon in the Peace Tower was Lenn.on's 'Imagine'.  The last song played was one Lay.ton's own great-grandfather composed.  The crowd of ~2500 was quiet until they started to drive and then it broke into applause. 

Now that the week of mourning is over for the public we are left with his accomplishments, those things he had yet to change, and his final letter to Canadians.  These are the final two paragraphs he left with us:
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
It is now up to each and every one of us to determine what kind of country, what kind of world we want to live in and create for our children, our grandchildren.  It is now our turn to step up and do our part.  We can make a difference, each and every one of us.  I know it because I've seen it.

Thank you Jack.  Merci Jack.

The flag at half mast atop the Peace Tower

1 comment:

  1. It was very sad today, I'm sorry to see him gone so soon.