Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Strange Times

Jack Layton and his granddaughter
I asked my Muse this morning to help me write something...anything. I seem to have no...oomph...for writing these days, and it seems the Muse doesn't either, since she hasn't stimulated me for some time.

I believe it is the events the World is experiencing at the moment. One cannot turn on the news without some catastrophe just waiting to pounce, just waiting to destroy any peace I may have gathered through the night.

I could list them. But it would just exacerbate the whole thing, magnifying them in my mind.

The one thing I will mention, however, is how Jack Layton's death from cancer, at the age of 61, affected me.  He was the leader of the Opposition in the House of Parliament, a New Democrat.

Jack Layton, with his granddaughter Beatrice, and his wife, Olivia Chow
How odd that a man I have never met, a politician of and for the people, could have me in a state of mourning, along with, seemingly, the rest of Canada, no matter their political bent.

I was in a state of shock the morning I heard about his death. I had known he was ill, of course. I saw him making his last announcement, when he said he would be back in September. As ill as he looked, I believed him. I thought he would be back in Parliament, holding all the rest accountable, as he had done for his whole life.

To me, he was like a Terrier or a Bulldog, worrying and tearing at the Conservatives without restraint. With a four year term of a majority Conservative government, I felt so much better in knowing Jack Layton was the leader of the Opposition. I felt, if anyone could, he was the one who would hold the Conservatives to account.

Flags fly at half-mast
The strange thing is I am not terribly political. When I vote, I usually vote for the person and not specifically the Party he or she is leading. But Jack was and always will be a man for the people. For him, it was forever about the people and their well-being in Canada. And I understand is how I hope I would be were I in politics.

I felt he had our backs. And when he died, I felt bereft. Who could possibly take his place?

I was astonished when I cried, really cried, for him, for his wife and family and grandchild, and for Canada. And I was truly amazed at the wave of emotion that overcame the Country. I'm not sure I remember this ever happening before.

He wrote a letter to Canadians the day before he died. In his very personal letter, he urged all of us to remember not to let others say we can't do a thing our minds are set upon. He addressed his Party, his caucus, other people suffering with cancer, the youth of Canada, Quebecers who believed in him enough to vote in huge numbers to give him the opposition Leader's seat. And he addressed his fellow Canadians.

At the end of his letter, one that must have been so difficult to write, he wrote..."My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the World." 

I wonder if I could have had the fortitude to write something so eloquent if I faced death. This man remembered the people of Canada, knowing well his time was at an end. This was the kind of man he was...and the words above were words he truly lived by, in all accounts.

As the World enters strange times, where nothing seems certain, where Earthquakes, Tornadoes, terrible accidents and civil unrest seem almost the norm...I will take Jack Layton's words and enter them deeply within my soul, never to be forgotten or misplaced.

Let us, indeed, be loving, hopeful and optimistic. Let us not give fear the upper hand. Fear is a and hope fill the heart, giving more strength I believe we will all require in the coming months and years ahead.

Jack, I will miss you and your smiling face. I will miss your witty, sometimes even snide, comments. I will miss the love you projected to us all, even though I never knew you personally. It does not seem to matter, to my complete and  utter astonishment.

We are living through strange times. I do not blame myself for not wanting to write about despair and fear. As odd as it seems, Jack Layton's death opened the hearts of people as nothing else might have done.

And perhaps, this is the point. This heart-opening, this outpouring of love, the collective astonishment that this could be so for a politician's untimely death...this taught us all to be more open, more heart-centred.

Imagine the possibilities...

This morning, I had a conversation with my Muse, the wondrous lady who sits on my right shoulder as I write.

And she did not let me down.

Rest in the greatest of peace, Jack, your time on Earth has ended too soon. 

It is time, now, to take up the cudgels, the loving truncheons, on your behalf.

And I will.


  1. Oh, Marion … you took the words right out of my mouth and I dare say most Canadians. I am so glad you wrote about Jack Layton and his leaving us too soon. I thought he was just beginning and as it turns out he was ending his time here on earth. Tragic as it is (I’ve lost loved ones to cancer) his impact will be felt for years to come. I can only hope that his goodhearted optimism will grow over time. He has set the bar high for politicians. I, too, always felt that he had our backs.

  2. What a beautiful tribute. Sometimes we don't realize how long lasting some of our better leaders have on the future of our world. I'm glad your muse is back. I've missed you.

  3. He sounds like he was an amazing man, Marion. I love your beautiful tribute to him. It's so rare these days to have an honest politician in power. I can see why his death affected you so much. Welcome back, Ms. Muse!!!

    Love & Hugs,
    the other Marion

  4. You may be MY muse, Marion. After your comment i am inspired to do a post of the breeding of the modern German Shepherd.

  5. She did not let you down at all.

    your grief has alot to do with all the turmoil in the world - the death of someone we admire in difficult times brings it all to home, and it's something we can tangibly grieve for.
    love - mim

  6. What an amazing tribute to Jack! Thank you.
    I put something much more prosaic on my "Chrome" blog on Monday. As I said then, "The Spirit of Canada is smaller today because Jack Layton has died." I absolutely believe that.
    Thanks, again, for your wonderful words.

  7. Thank you for this, Marion. So much of it is what I feel about Mr Layton's passing but have been unable to write or say. It does feel like losing a friend too soon, and like a terrible, terrible shame.

  8. Lovely post and obituary for a good man.

  9. I'm sorry for your loss. Perhaps, his death was made a little harder because he wasn't far from your age, I would guess.

    I made your daffodil photo my desktop picture. Daffodils have been my favorite flower since I was a child, and their appearance presaged the end of winter, a season that I have always loathed despite the fact that I grew up less than 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

  10. Anonymous2:43 p.m.

    Poignant and beautiful, Marion. Thanks for sharing MR Layton's message to fellow Canadians. In these times, it is a message that can change the world if only we can truly hear it. It starts with each one of us in our personal relationship with self and ripples out to those we touch in our daily lives.

  11. Ah, Marion... I don't find it strange at all to be so affected by the death of someone one didn't meet in *real life*. Mr. Layton sounds like someone rare for a politician.....a caring, honest individual....and I truly believe that LOVE is more powerful than any other emotion and can work more miracles than money can buy. He met his impending death with grace and courage - I hope I will come to mine the same way.

    Your *Muse* led you to write this touching tribute...and I think Jack Layton IS pleased and honoured.

    Hugs to you,

    ♥ Robin ♥

  12. aka Penelope,

    There were many great posts on different blogs, saying much the same things I wrote. I still find it incredible that most of the country is consumed with grief, no matter who they voted for. He was truly an honest, loving odd in politics these days. He had so many qualities I could identify with...his art, his music, his green way of living, and his love for his granddaughter.

    I am glad he was given a state funeral. xx


    Thank you so much...I've missed writing, too. I think I may be over the hump on it, though, I have a couple of posts in mind and can't wait to begin! xx


    I'm so glad you understand. But his death did not affect only me...truly, the whole country has turned out to mourn his passing. And it is rare to see a hardened politician in tears, but I saw many this week. xx

  13. Jan,

    Your post on how the German Shepherd became who he is today was really stark and really impressive. Glad you posted it. I couldn't believe that judge!! xx


    Thanks for the understanding. It is true the events of the world have been stuffed away on my part. The storm of weeping is surely attached to all the unrest in the World.

    There have been long lines honouring his memory and his casket for the last two days. So many people grieving! Quite unusual for Canadians, I think...xx


    Welcome! Thank you for visiting! I'm glad your post was "prosaic". Sometimes I need just the facts and yours presented them well. Also, with all the emotional posts out there, it is good to have factual, logical pieces written as well. Thank you. xx

  14. Stubblejumpin'Gal,

    I had to write about him, or else I would not have been able to put it to rest, I think. There is just too much cancer! That disease strikes down too many really good people. And Jack Layton was certainly one of those. xx

    Daisy Deadhead,

    Thank you, Daisy. As you so well know, there are too few men of his calibre in politics. xx


    I'm glad you took the is the flower of hope and the official flower for cancer, I believe. I miss the daffodil, it doesn't grow well for me here, where I live. We are usually still covered in Snow till the end of May, and by the time the daffodils can bloom, the weather is way too hot and they wither quickly.

    I was looking for an orange one, which is the colour for the NDP. But I fell in love with this one. xx

  15. Miruh,

    So nice to see you, Miruh, and thank you for your beautiful comment. I hope all of us really HEAR what he said and entangle it within ourselves. During these times, it is such an important message and I, for one, don't want to miss it. xx


    Thank you, Robin. I am with approach death with such grace is truly an inspiration to all of us, Canadian or not. He was an awesome man, one who loved the arts and music and debates and most of all, the people. And he was an old hippie...something with which I completely identify! xx

  16. From Wikipedia: "Various cancer charities around the world, including the American Cancer Society,[16] New Zealand Cancer Society,[17] Cancer Council Australia,[18] and the Irish Cancer Society,[19] use the daffodil as a fundraising symbol. "Daffodil Days", first instituted in Toronto in 1957 by the Canadian Cancer Society,[20] are organized to raise funds by offering the flowers in return for a donation."

  17. I linked this post on my political round-up today, Marion. :)

  18. Marion, A beautiful post and I could not agree more with what Mr. Layton had to say, what a lovely man, I can see why you will miss him.
    Hugs. xoxo

  19. i do not know canadian politics, he seems to be a great man. it is sad that we lose all the best people so soon, in time of great change and need. but maybe he'll come back again in a different form so he can best serve humanity? sending love to his family.

  20. Snowbrush,

    Thank you so much! For a service club, I once sold daffodils for Cancer Daffodil days. But I wasn't entirely sure that still applied. Thanks for taking the time to look that up! xx


    Wow! What a super thing to do, Daisy, I so appreciate it! Good luck with your radio show! xx

    Annie Coe,

    We will miss him, for sure. His state funeral is today; it is the first time a state funeral has been given to a member of the opposition. I don't think Steven Harper, our Prime Minister, could do any less given Jack Layton's huge popularity.xx


    I completely understand...I have no knowledge of Malaysian politics either! I often think the same...when someone dies too soon, I think he/she may have been required to work from a different plane. If this is possible, then Jack Layton will be working tirelessly, I have no doubt. Take care of yourself, dear Alison! xx

  21. Marion, I'm referring you and another blogger to one another's posts about Jack:

  22. To understand what we have lost - look at the people who lined up side by side to pay their respects. Business suited men and silk clad women in line behind the homeless with their belongings in carts. This man touched the hearts of everyone and everyone mattered.
    What a legacy to leave behind for generations to come. I can only hope that the youth of this country were watching and learning this past week.
    Thanks for such a great tribute.

  23. Snowbrush,

    Thanks so much for giving me the link to Catz's blog. You've introduced me to many bloggers who have become very good friends. I so appreciate it! xx


    I had the same thought about our youth. I saw many young adults and teens and children at his funeral. I hoped it would make a difference; I believe it has after listening to the speakers at his funeral. How could Stephen Lewis' oratory not move the young, as well? They will remember this, I know.

    Thank you so much for visiting, Catz! xx

  24. So beautifully put, Marion. That you can grieve for a politician is probably the best proof of what a good man he was. We need people in high places to remind us of our goodness, not our shortcomings.

  25. Jack would have loved this. Indeed, he would have loved so much of how the country came together to bid him adieu and to celebrate his life. He may never have been our PM, but his influence on our lives, on our political landscape, was immense.

    May his memory always be a blessing. And may his memory always serve as a reminder of what really matters to us as Canadians.

  26. Oh, what a lovely tribute post. I became aware of Jack Layton after his passing via another Canadian blogger. And I have been so so sad for all of you, but very uplifted by his story. Yes, these are strange times...times in which a great man like Jack Layton lived and only in his dying did I finally know about him. I shared his letter to Canadians with my husband, who also was touched.
    Again, I empathize in the tragedy of the loss of this fine leader and man of the people.

  27. He sounds like he was truly a 'good man', and that stands for such alot in these times, and all the more so in someone who represents the people. I can see entirely why you were so moved along with so many other folks x