On a wall in my bedroom, there are three photos entitled “Jo Jo”, “Chris” and “June 19”. These images are my way of paying hom-age to four people who are no longer with us in body, but still live on in spirit. Thus, the reason I entitled this collection of music “Spirits”.
The title track is my ever-increasing fascination with eternity. It is not meant to reflect fear or dread, rather, curiosity and cautious anticipation. It is fueled by the hope that one day, all of us will truly “Rest in Peace”.
The Lady’s Slipper, (Cypripedium, Greek for “Venus’s slipper,”) is a rare wild orchid native to North America. Also called “Indian Moccasin” it can take 10 to 17 years for one to bloom in the wild.
Like the Lady Slipper, JoJo was also rare. She was always ready to give, without expecting any reciprocation. She had a profound impact on all who knew her.
Jo Jo and my wife, Velda were the poster children for the axiom “sisters from another mother”. Together, they embodied almost every cliché about close friendship.
Tragically and suddenly, Jo Jo was snatched away from us by cancer. Her battle was short, but her spirit was always strong. I will always admire the way Jo Jo dealt with her illness. It was as if she wrapped herself in a blanket of calm acceptance.
Jo Jo graced our lives with her smile, her kindness, her laughter, and her gracious, gentle soul.
Thank you, Jo Jo….. Thank you SO MUCH!
Chris was my cousin. She was born in Toronto, Ontario, I, in Noranda, Quebec, in the same year, about a month apart. As children, we spent a great deal of time together. I never told her this, but as we were growing up, I wished she was my sister.
As life went on, we grew apart. I deeply regret this.
Chris fell in love, got married, had a wonderful family, and became a prolific, profound champion for everything good in life. Her spirit was always so genuine, kind and caring.
Cancer attacked her with a vengeance, and Chris fought back with everything she had. It was during these times that our relationship was re-kindled. Chris told me she would start her day by sitting in her recliner watching the sunrise over the mountains, so every morning, I would send her a new piece of music to listen to as she did so. We emailed each other almost every day.
Before Chris left us, I was fortunate to be able to visit her to say goodbye. She was so strong and positive and seemed so much at peace and so accepting of her journey.
This is a photo I took from her balcony, in Victoria, British Columbia on the day we parted company. When I look at it, I hear her words, feel her spirit, and remember to those days that we played in the sand as children.
My mother’s name is Olive. As children, and throughout life, she and her sister, Nina were very close, almost “joined at the hip”.
Olive’s spirit left us on June 19, 2009. In the weeks leading up to her passing, life left her gently, bathing her in a childlike innocence, enveloped by a sense of inner peace and punctuated by a readiness to move on.
My wife, Velda and I visited Olive in her hospital bed every morning. With a sparkle in her eye, she would gaze at an overhead skylight and excitedly tell us of the people from her past who had appeared to her in her dreams the previous night.
Nina visited her in her dreams often. Olive talked about her beautiful sister in a flowing gown, and an opulent hat coming to visit. It was a very surreal and comforting experience for us. Olive was not suffering—she was preparing.
Nina’s spirit joined my mother’s on June 19, 2019, ten years to the day after Olive’s passing. Many would consider this to be a mere coincidence, but something inside me is saying it was meant to be.
Olive and Nina are now Always Together.