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Lives Lived

There were many stories to choose from, so writing a 500 word story about John was difficult. Yet when you have known someone like him, and he is taken too soon from his life’s course, you want to tell everyone you pass in the street about this incredibly dynamic person. As if the loss will start to make sense, the more you speak about it.

So the Lives Lived section in the Globe and Mail was a natural target, and today they published my little story about John. For the link to that story, click here.

I had to virtually sum up his career of teaching kids with a short sentence – hardly doing it justice, knowing that he was a positive influence on countless students. I barely mentioned his close relationship with his wife and children. But that’s national newspapers for you.

At his funeral, his past running coach told me the story about how he ran a 5 minute mile in his hungover state one day. His coach was clearly impressed at John’s abilities, (perhaps less impressed, but still slightly amused, by his priorities). So many athletes wouldn’t have turned up for that practice at all; his youthful bravado and competitive spirit shine through this story – a story long since forgotten by John, but remembered by his coach.

Golfing with John was a treat for anyone, so that story had to make the cut. He took fewer swings than most golfers, so I think he came up with the idea of being the sharpest ball hunter that ever walked the links to challenge himself while the rest of his foursome duffed it out. He proudly told anyone who would listen how he had never in his life bought a golf ball, since he had buckets full of them from his jaunts through the rough. He would stuff handfuls of balls into my bag before we teed off. I blame him for my enduring inability to read a putt, since I would arrive on the green and he would hold his putter where I needed to aim, either to the right or left of the hole. He was always right.

Waiting for knee surgery didn't stop him from being Ella's running pal for a 2 mile race

There were so many stories that couldn’t fit. Like the time when travelers were stranded in Halifax during 911, and John ended up bringing two men home, making space for them until they were cleared to fly again. Countless stories about the times he coached Peter or Julia, about trips he and Debbie had taken, and many, many about his antics that were uniquely John. There was truly never a dull moment when he was in a room.

His large personality paved the way for thousands of funny situations. Let’s say he was no shrinking violet. But for the complete picture, he was also smart, generous, warm and caring.

For some people, the word “brother” conjures someone who they rarely speak with and can barely tolerate. The relationship means different things for people. But I was madly in love with my brother, and I know the rest of my family was, too. He was a rare and unique gift. We are missing him, but he is lodged somewhere between our hearts and our minds.

With every breath, I feel his presence.

  1. lucieloves
    October 28, 2011 at 12:11 am

    LOVE xox

  2. Mel
    October 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

    loved it. and love your writing. i am really happy you are back at it (it never left you. nor you it. you both just took a break for a while to do other things). This is an excellent piece – as was the last Globe submission. Be proud. John would. We all are. xo Mel

  3. October 28, 2011 at 1:47 am

    So glad you had the chance to write about your brother. I will click over and read it when I’m not struggling to see on my phone. Congrats on another pu,blication.

  4. Ellie
    October 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    what another amazing piece about John – It was wonderful to flip the page of the Globe (yes, i still read the hard copy) and see John’s smiling face! Thank you for continuing to share your memories and feelings Dee. We are enriched by your writing.

  5. Joanne Lawlor
    October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am

    As usual Deanna..brilliant. Hard to put in words just how great he was and just how much we love him; however you continue to do a fantastic job!

  6. MaryBeth Curry
    November 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Yes Dee,again you summed up nicely the many qualities John was made of..we will continue to love him with these happy memories..xxoo

  7. Gay (Grace) Marshall
    February 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I feel the same way about my sister Marion. Her “Lives Lived” tribute is being published Feb29. I managed, with great difficulty, to keep it under 500 words, but when they asked for more information, it went over. Then so much was edited. You wrote a beautiful piece about your brother. I wish I had your writing skills. People say that in time the pain will ease. My brain knows this, but my heart aches for the loss. We are both extremely fortunate to have had such an close relationship with our siblings. A saying we used to quote on birthdays: “I am happy to have you for my sister, and even happier to have you as my friend.”

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