Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

September 12, 2016

The Tragically Hip last month finished their Canada Man Machine Poem cross-country tour much to the bittersweet delight of their passionate fans.

It is bitter because frontman Gord Downie is battling brain cancer which his doctors say is terminal.

The Hip's emotion-packed performances in Canadian cities allowed us to say thank you to them, and they sang and strummed out their thank you to us.

What a gracious act! What a brave thing to do!

While we hunkered down and listened to that flamboyant, glitter-garbed Downie and his band, we also added him to our prayer lists. To the medical world, the disappearance of Downie's tumour would be an unexplained event, but to those who pray, it would be a miracle. This man deserves a miracle.

This tour also shows us the power of saying thank you before the potential final curtain.

There are people in my life who have shown me kindness. I can only hope I said thank you. Maybe I did and it was lost in the chaos of the moment.

The kind people can come from a plethora of places - one's own family, a pastor, a caregiver, first responders, professors, you catch my drift.

Not every thank you comes up hearts and roses. I was working back east and one day saw a story about my former Grade 6 teacher who had become an Anglican priest. Our class was his first class in his teaching career. He was different, courageous, delightful.

I had a paper route and saved up my nickels and dimes and had someone make him a leather wallet carved with his initials for his Christmas present.

Thirty years later I called the teacher now a priest, and told him I wanted to say thank you. He bluntly said he did not remember me at all. I mentioned the wallet, thinking that might jog his memory.

"Oh, the wallet," he said. "It's in my desk. But I don't remember you."

I acknowledged he did not remember, but persisted and said I just wanted to thank him for being the best teacher in my time in grade school.

He rang off abruptly.

I did not feel angry or upset. That call completed a truth I had.

As I said, there is no guarantee how one's thank you will be received, especially after the passage of many years.

But I was happy I had done it, because maybe in some quiet moment, he might remember and allow the thank you to sink into his heart.

A SUPREME EFFORT

The Hip's tour and Downie's cancer nudged my conscience. If he and his band could make such a supreme effort to give thanks, then I too can sit down and give a shout out to those who have blessed me along the way.

Phone calls and emails can too easily disappear. This type of thank you demands pen and paper and, for some, stamps.

It has been so long since I have written any such card and I have no idea what I am going to say. But I do know I must do it.

In the secular world I have done too many interviews with grieving relatives following fatal traffic accidents to know they are haunted by what their final words had been to the deceased.

Sometimes there had been a fight and the last words hurled out as the person left had been "I hate you." Their remorse and grief are overwhelming.

FEELINGS OF REGRET

There have been times when I scanned the obituaries and happened upon the name of someone who had been kind to me. Mixed in with the sorrow too often are thoughts of regret that I had never told them what their gentle support had meant.

I know how I am going to do this. Given my wretched handwriting, I shall write the words I want to say on the computer and send the clear computer-created words tucked into a signed thank you card.

Canada is known for being polite, that we always say "sorry" and "thank you." If that is a put down, tough. Life in today's society is hard enough. Being civil is the least we can do.

Gratitude, as Pope Francis says, "is a flower that blooms in noble souls."

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)