Saturday, April 29, 2006

People Of The Heart

I shall preface this blog by saying my head is full of stuff to write...
but I will only be able to spurt out a little as I made a commitment
to be in Ottawa for a few days to help my dad during tax time. This
is a season of life that my dad has seen many of and has lived to
tell the tale. Though many of the final deadlines have been met by
the skin of his and my brother's teeth, we are all still here. Surviving.
This is a sentimental time for me - though chaotic and filled with
paper trails, adding machines (us old schoolers refer to using this
machine as 'running a tape') and buckets of paper clips used sparingly -
and there are things in life that are just too valued and useful to be
left off paper. And this IS one.

This life rotates on the head of a pin. Fragile, yet so seriously
colour-rich and fragmented all at once. I think a lot of my life
has been impacted by people and I want to take the time to
note a key one here today. One who has showed integrity,
strength and love. We are not necessarily good friends...
just a person who has inspired me in multiple ways.

My dad has worked for many eons as a CA and Financial Services
numbers cruncher, but along the way, his thrive for relational
work has created masses of opportunities for people and good
friendships and spiritual golf and hockey buddies along the way.
One of these professional/relational opportunities has happened in
the way of his friend Laurie. Laurie works for Hockey Ministries
International and helps promote Christian ethics amongst NHL
players, and having been an NHL player himself for over a decade,
he knows his stuff. He was what you would call a 'grinder' in the
sense that he didn't really ever score too highly, but he was the
kind of guy you wanted on your team because he would never
back down from a battle in the corner and play tenacious defense
on any floaters or puckhogs. He played the bulk of his good years
with the Winnipeg Jets (nice!) but also journeyed through franchises
like the Leafs (boo), the Oilers (He has a signed star-studded picture of
the Oiler team he was on - Gretzky, Messier, Ranford, Grant Fuhr,
Kurri - unfortunately he was traded very shortly into that season
though the Oil took the Cup that year) and finished his career here
in O-town on the Inaugural Senators team.

So much more than this, though, is the fact that Laurie is just an amazing
guy to talk with. As a teen, and more of a hockey buff than I am now, I
used to always pick his brain about players I liked (namely...ahem...Mike
Modano...for obvious reasons) and even though I'm sure tons of his kids
friends and other losers would ask him the same kind of questions, he
would always take time to thoughtfully resound an interesting and in-depth
answer to me. He is always interested in everyone's perspective, a quality
listener, and is very seldom without a smile on his face. His interpersonal
traits must have made him a prize candidate for his job now,
and he even helps my dad assemble tax returns when it's the
busy season amidst all of the other junk on his plate.

Laurie's wife died less than 2 months ago of severe brain cancer.
Laurie's wife Nancy was also a beautiful person who worked as a
secretary for my dad for quite a few years. She, too, was very
personal, friendly and great at listening to people and trying
her best to understand. Laurie has three teenage sons, all probably
left asking alot of the same questions that Laurie himself asks,
but probably mainly 'why?'. I am working with Laurie today,
and amidst the unbelieveable turmoil and anguish that he must

have already endured and is still enduring, that I have not even
a clue as to the mere perimeter of, he is keeping himself busy and
refusing to let the negative take hold. Though there is a deep sadness
in his eyes, and anyone who knows him can see it, he presses on, refusing to
throw in the towel on life and even myself and my brother have
been able to crack a few jokes with him and get him laughing. (In
fact, he is at the photocopier so much that he has adopted the endearing
title of 'copyboy', though he is not a boy in any sense and could
whip me and my brother in one flick of his wrist if he wanted.)

What empowers me is the notion that Laurie has had happen to him
what most of us fear more than any nightmare or evil that is out
there - the loss of your best friend and life love. Yet... something
keeps him going. Something in him is saying 'Don't you give up,
Laurie. Everything is not lost.' When I think of what life would be like
if something happened to Sarah...I shudder and disregard the thought
immediately for the simple fact that it is something beyond my
comprehension. But Laurie has been to the other side. And I'm not sure
he's back yet, and may not be for some time. But he sure as hell ain't
gone. He is 100 percent here and now and he's doing all he can.
And for those of us who know what that Hope is inside of him, a chill
hits the spine and hits us where we live. For those that don't know
of any Hope, or things of that nature and write it off as coping
mechanisms (which I'm sure factor into it), a sadness resounds.

I'm truly thankful for what I have, a beautiful and supportive wife
who backs me up at every turn even when I am a stubborn ass.
It makes me realize that this life is thin ice. But at least we are not
alone on this frozen lake, and can join hands with our life loves
and communities and friends along the way and make our way for the shore.

Laurie, you inspire me. I know you may never read this, but thank
you for who you are.

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