LETTER: Friend says final farewell with dignity

During a serene performance at the recently sold out concert by organist Jenny Vincent and harpist Janelle Nadeau, my thoughts wandered off to my friend Albert. Al, as he was known to his friends, was 90 when his sojourn on this Earth came to an arranged end just before Christmas.

We met through various choirs a few decades ago, he had a powerful bass voice, sang solo, opera and proudly sent me a snapshot of him fronting Carnegie Hall, performing with his choir last year. Interesting life: a performing hypnotist, member of the British Secret Service, a drummer also. He even composed a march which was performed by a U.K. Military Band.

In September when he told me his health was failing; breathing problems. Just before Christmas I dropped by with the usual card and chocolate letter gift with his initial (a Dutch tradition for St. Nicholas on Dec. 5). He was thin, labouring and on a life-extending oxygen tube. He had pulmonary fibrosis, he told me, causing great discomfort, as well as an inoperable aneurism. He did not complain but was resolute, clear of mind and determined to cross over to the other side with dignity, and on his terms.

He was ready after talking with his Dr.’s and his Trustee. We comfortably chatted for an hour or so.

I was acquainted with the concept of medically assisted death, had listened to debates and seen it carried out. And who am I to pass moral judgement on what other people are comfortable with? Only those who walk in their shoes will understand the path they are taking. I was struck by his delicate display of dignity, so courageous, so devoid of any fear because, as he said, he was at peace. Above all, he was thankful for the life he lived. Deaths (160,000 a day) and births (350,000 a day) are part of life. Death releases the Soul like a butterfly emerges from its cocoon. Imagine you are standing on the shore waving goodbye to your loved one as the ship moves away from the shore, where we were welcomed when we arrived when born. You wave for as long as you can see the ship, on arrival to the other shore those who went before us are waving in welcome. We said bye, knowing that it would be our final goodbye. We hugged and burst out laughing as I am 6-foot-6 and Al was 5-2. Memories will always be in our hearts.

And yes, it is better to give flowers in a vase than lay them horizontally.

Paul Reitsma


Just Posted

Qualicum Beach council big on support for multi-use cinema proposal

Society asks for 10,000 square feet, gets recommendation to consider with strategic plan

Lincoln stolen from Parksville dealership found near Duncan

Vehicle was located three days later with minor damage

Ballenas student experiment going into space

Science experiment designed by five SD69 students will travel to International Space Station

Fire engulfs trailer, vehicle and home in Bowser

The fire began around 6:45 p.m. at a property on Laurel Crescent

Have a heart for a cause in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Stained glass artist selling hearts for the homeless for what might be the last time

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

B.C.-based mining company worker abducted in Burkina Faso

Government officials in that West African nation say Canadian was kidnapped by suspected extremists

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

North Cowichan will host national rowing centre starting October 2020

Saanich’s bid for national rowing centre at Elk Lake sunk

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Tom Lavin and the Powder Blues Band among acts to perform at Comox Valley’s Winterfest

Participating hotels offering half-price “ski & stay” packages

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Most Read