Tag Archive: death

Dec 14

Post-Funeral Thoughts

I’m riding the TTC back from the airport after dropping my wife off there. Thanks to the generosity of her family, she was at least able to attend the memorial gathering. (Technically, you could say that that was the funeral– a memorial gathering at the family farmstead was all my father wanted.)


I’m still mostly blase about the whole thing. Whether that’s because it hasn’t sunk in yet, or whether the physical distance separating me from my parents has made it easier, or that I just don’t get worked up about death any more, I don’t know. Maybe something will break in the coming weeks in Canada, and maybe it won’t. I don’t know.

Interesting side note here: did you know that it is illegal to bury human ashes in Ontario anywhere other than a registered graveyard? Spreading them is okay, and you can even do it on Crown land and waterways, but burying ashes is not. I think this is because the laws were written before cremation was common, and when they were changed to allow the spreading of the ashes, the burying part kind of just fell through a loophole. You can bury the decaying remains of your St. Bernard in your back yard, but not the biologically inert ashes of your father. Nice one, Ontario.

Dec 08

Thoughts on a Memorial

2012-12-05 09.07.23It’s the morning of my Father’s memorial gathering and I’m asking myself why I pushed to have an active part in it. Today needs to run like clockwork, and I’m involved in taking cues and doing something at least twice. Maybe three times.


I think the cold and wet will probably protect me from getting too emotional, but I’m certain that my mind is going to be wandering. When I’m working on shows, the hardest parts are when I’m not doing anything active; if I don’t struggle to stay engaged, I can easily wander off mentally and miss a cue.


*     *     *


We’re also all silently pretending that today is going to bring closure to everything, which is a bit foolish.


*     *     *


The memorial gathering is taking place, as my father requested, on the farm by the rock on which we have all the heritage plaques. There were problems finding a venue, but at the last minute, the nearby elementary school offered their gym. The kids had come out and my father and shown them around the farm earlier this year, so my family thought it was appropriate. Despite the fact that it’s a Catholic school and there are crosses and Jesuses and Pope John Paul IIs everywhere, I’m really happy they offered. The marquee outside the school has “Goodbye, Mr. Woolner” on it, and the kids made poster boards in tribute to him with photos from their trip to the farm.


The principal announced that she had “prayer cards” that she was going to put at every place setting, and I cringed inwardly (my father was an atheist), but then she brought them out, and I read them, and they were really sweet. No mention of God or “the Lord” or anything. Just a nice little poem on the back.


*     *     *


Okay, I need to get kitted (kilted) up now and prep some other stuff. Many more thoughts, but time is ticking, and the family is swirling around me now.

Nov 30

In the Air

I guess that one hour and forty-five minutes isn’t so late in the grand scheme of things, but it’s hard looking down at my watch and thinking if we were on time, we would be landing in 30 minutes.


I can’t believe they still have the same movies that they had when I flew over a month ago. I thought they changed them every month! I watched a couple, but then got bored, so I’ve switched on my laptop (hooray for in-seat power outlets) and caught up on my email.


I guess it would be a good idea, I supposed, to write something for the blog.


Don’t really have anything to write about.


I really have no idea what is in store for me for the next 60 days. Father’s memorial, sure, mother’s birthday, yes, Xmas and New Years, check. But no real idea of where I’m going to be or what I’m going to be doing. I brought along my TASCAM US-800 USB mixer and two microphones just in case I decide to record some songs or something. Forgot the AC cable for the US-800, though.


One thing is clear is that my father’s death changes everything and moves my life schedule ahead about 10 years… despite the fact that my career schedule is about five years behind where I’d like it to be. My remaining family needs me, and I am going to have to make more frequent and longer trips to Canada. This jaunt, thought, will be my longest one until at least next fall: if everything goes well, my spring and summer are spoken for (papoose on the way). But starting from 2014, I think I need to find a way to spend at least three months a year in Canada.


That’s actually a hard mental shift for me. My identity is wrapped up quite tightly in Yokohama. I also have a sense of pride about being part of my community there. My long-range plan has always included spending a portion of my time in Canada, but my prior visions had all related to my professional life: touring a show, maybe. Just going there seems weird.


So everything’s up in the air right now. YTG ensemble rehearsals have been suspended while I’m gone; the winter semester of classes don’t have a venue yet (except for the voice class); my Canadian family is seriously changed, and the pieces haven’t stopped falling yet… probably more stuff I can’t think of at the moment.


Hmm. Lights are going from blue to pink. Food service probably starting soon. Better put away the laptop and get ready.

Nov 24

The Family Strong-Man

I just spoke to my father for what will probably be the last time. My Father


He didn’t answer; there was just the sound of the respirator. Or something.


My mother held the phone to his ear and I held my phone to mine. I didn’t realize at first that he couldn’t talk back.



When my father was born, talking to a dying relative from 10,000+ miles away would have been an impossibility. Now it’s so simple.




But that didn’t make it any easier.




My family keeps vigil over him in a Toronto hospital. I drink hot cocoa and have three empty cookie wrappers on my desk. I will soon go to sleep.


Will they wake me when he dies? I don’t sleep yet. I don’t cry. I don’t do the heavy-lifting of being there.


But I am now the family strong-man.