It’s been more than a year since the magazine ceased publishing, a year of losses. It always surprised me how invested I became in the lives and passions of my writers and editors. Okla Elliott died in March 2017. Paul Pines in June 2018. Ann Ireland in August 2018. And just last month, David Helwig. I miss them all, their force of personality, their fierce will to create, and their affection, their decency as human beings. We are diminished by their absence.
In February, my mother Jean died in her own bed, on the farm she loved. Many of you have been kind enough to follow her career here on these pages, Jean reciting Walter Scott, Jean and her chickens, Jean and the farm. She liked that. At her burial, a native woman emerged from the small group of mourners, unannounced, and drummed and sang around the grave. For her memorial event in August, I put together a slide show of Jean’s life. The texts are a mix of my commentary, dates and context, but also diary excerpts, letters and interviews. Above all, it’s a woman’s life. She lived 96 eventful years. She was smart, feisty, energetic, and indomitable. She championed the weak and hurt, believed in chem trails, loved trees so much she would embrace them in the woods. She got along better with women than with men, but she had three sons. She drove me to Toronto as a kid to see Picasso and Van Gogh exhibits. She would always stop at the library in Brantford or Simcoe when she went shopping and bring back a wicker basket full of books. She could be as annoying as hell, God bless her. I miss talking to her.
The music in the background is the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân. This is the version arranged by John Williams and sung my James Rainbird for the movie Empire of the Sun. You can interrupt the music at any time by clicking the pause button.
Perhaps the best way of viewing the slide show is to click on the first image below so that you go into full screen mode, then click on the arrows to advance the slides at your own pace. To view images of the farm, the chickens, etc. click on “The Farm” button on the left.