Updated: Nov 20, 2020
This narrative was written by my first cousin Patricia (Salamon) Sinclair on August 18, 2002—the year after Gordon died—and is in the form of a letter to him. She has given me permission to post an abbreviated version on the Blog. It describes an encounter she had with Gordon on a Regina city bus. At this time, Gordon was working at the Cosmopolitan Activity Centre and he (and others from Garrity Home) travelled to and from the Centre by bus every weekday. Remember how proud he was of “working for the government”?
Time goes so fast and, in just a month, it will be the first anniversary of your death. This is the story that didn’t get told at the prayer service for you on the evening before the funeral in Lebret. There is a legend in our faith tradition that the first-year anniversary is a day to be set aside to honour the loved one because it’s considered that after a year, the soul of a good person has stayed long enough in purgatory to be purified of all imperfections and is thereby ready to enter the Kingdom of God. Knowing nothing of these things, it’s still my guess that all they had to do to get you ready was to brush away a bit of tarnish here and there, take you gently by the hand, and lead you through to Paradise.
But back to the story. It was late in November 1997 on a very cold day. We’d already had snow and the temperature had dropped to below winter normals. It was around four in the afternoon and I’d just had a call that my car was ready to be picked up. I’d often take a cab to the dealership, but this time I thought it would be a better idea to get some fresh air and take the bus. So off I went! It was only a three-block walk from my home to the stop downtown and I was just in time to see several busses pulling into the 12th Avenue turnaround.
The Broad North bus was also a bit early and, because of the cold, the driver had opened the doors to let passengers on. I got on and sat down on the bench across from the driver’s side. My trip would be a short one—fifteen minutes at most. The bus rumbled to the corner of Broad, then turned north to stop in front of the Travellers’ Building where about ten or so people stood waiting. The group quickly moved forward and as they embarked, the driver greeted each by name, sometimes adding a personal comment or two, waiting until everyone was seated before maneuvering the bus back onto the street.
Imagine my delight when I saw that you were one of the people getting on! You took the seat right across from me on the opposite bench. The cold makes everyone’s glasses fog up, so when you’d cleared yours off and had settled yourself in, I reached across, touched you lightly on the arm and said quietly.
“Gordon…Gordon…Hi, it’s Patsy—Patsy, your cousin. You remember? Patsy from Lebret. Patsy and…”
“...and Genny! And Uncle Mike!” You finished the sentence.
“Yes...yes” I answered. “Patsy, and Genny and Uncle Mike from Lebret. Remember living in Lebret?”
“Sure…sure do” you answered.
“Remember summer holidays? Remember how we used to climb the hills—way up to the top? There’d be Dennis, and Lorraine, and you, and me. Remember? We’d see your house…and the church….and the lake.”
“Yes… yes, I do!” you answered.
“We sure had lots of fun, didn’t we?”
“Sure did!” you said.
We continued our conversation just loudly enough for us to hear each other. I explained that I was going to pick up my car. We talked about your work; about how nice it was to be going home at the end of the day, about how cold it was. You said you were with friends. You introduced me to your friend sitting next to me on the bench. The three of us then talked about going home, and how we were all looking forward to having supper. After supper, you said, everyone watches TV.
Through the front windshield, and getting closer, I could see my stop a block away. I rang the bell, and as the bus slowed, reached across to shake your hand.
“Goodbye, Gordon. Take care, now—we’ll see each other at Christmas.”
“Yes…yes, we will!” you said, giving me a big smile, and shaking my hand in return.
The bus stopped, the doors opened, and I stepped off, pulling my scarf up to my face to protect against the wind. I stood for a moment and watched your bus continue on its way.
Happy first anniversary in Heaven, cousin. You were the best!