I've been past it and gone around it many times since my grandfather passed away back in 1992. Actually, I had rarely gone into the place since 1981.
Poor old Newmarket.
Once a bastion of solid Ontario, it was a town of about 8,000 when I was a kid. My grandparents lived about three blocks from Main Street and had ten acres of bush across the street. There was one small plaza on Yonge Street.
I saw Pierre Trudeau here in the summer of 1968, speaking to a big crowd at Fairy Lake. That was back in the day when politicians actually made speeches in front of real citizens instead of "party faithful" and TV cameras.
My mom's family was about as solid York County as you could get. Her grandparents lived down the street. When my great-grandfather died, mom's aunt and uncle, who had played for the Montreal Marroons, the Canadiens, the Bruins and the Red Wings, moved in to look after my great-grandma.
Now they are all gone. The nearest relative to Newmarket is my mom's sister, who lives about 20 miles away, in Caledon.
My cousin John will be laid to rest here this morning. He fought liver disease for at least two decades. He waited seven years for a transplant that never came. Unfortunately, the type of disease he had precluded his brother and I from giving him a lobe and saving his life.
My aunt, who is in her early seventies, commuted day after day from Caledon to Oakville. She desperately hoped she would not bury her oldest boy.
But that's what we will do today. One more family member in the Gilman plot, buried in a town that has been overwhelmed by Toronto and turned into an ugly mass of suburban houses and strip malls.