Monday, June 16, 2008

Newmarket, Ontario

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.

4 comments:

pauline said...

I remember going into the woods across the street from our Grandparents and picking jack in the pulpits..while the sun streamed through the trees. I wish I could be at the funeral today and am sad sad sad about John.

Harmony Bickerton said...

My Father and I Thank You for attending the Funeral today Mark. It was not the best place for me to meet my cousins for the first time but it was nice to be surrounded by family and friends. If we learn anything from this it's that life is too short not to make time for eachother. Like most people our family is not perfect and we have our issues...I went 3 1/2 years without speaking to my Grandmother and Aunt but the last time John was in the Hospital he smiled at me and whispered "I told you I'd get everyone together again", today at the Cemetary when the Thunder roared and the sky opened up and the sun hit the casket I knew in my heart it was John saying "See Harm...I told you!".

maryanne said...

It is a very sad day for our family. Sorry that I wasn't around today, Harm.I wish I could have been there for you and your dad. I'm glad you were all together today. There is nothing more important than family and nothing worth fighting over for 3 and a half years. Life is far too short. I thought John was so much fun, and Mark said it well-John didn't live long, but he LIVED. When I was very small I would visit the cousins in Downsview and thought they were the coolest kids EVER. It's a huge loss for Paula and his family.

Anonymous said...

I've known John for 20 years, that's half my life. I've spent the last 12 sharing our life, our home and our family. I feel very special and fortunate to have had this time with him. I've grown to know and love the people that meant a great deal to John. His life was too short but it was full, and he new it. Mark, thank you for putting this out there. Maryanne, thank you for making John laugh. Harm, thanks for being straight forward.