Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Nineteen years ago this week, we lost a very special and much-loved member of our family---my brother Gordon. I've recently been reminded that many of our younger family members do not remember him---or never knew him at all.
Gordon was born with Down Syndrome as well as several other serious health issues. He weighed about 5 1/2 lbs. and was not expected to live. When two days old, he underwent emergency bowel surgery and spent the first month of his life in the hospital. His health was always precarious and he was often hospitalized. He defied the odds of his life expectancy (about 20 years) and died at the age of 51 after several years of declining health. His presence in our family was a blessing from which we all benefited. Among other values, he showed us how to be more tolerant, patient, understanding, accepting, and grateful. You will still often hear one of us quoting some of his most-used expressions.
Gordon's brother-in-law Nick Maduck delivered the eulogy at Gordon's prayer service; with his permission I am including portions of it.
"We all learned many things from Gordon:
----- Gordon was a diplomat. Always considerate of other people's feelings, he had a great empathy and said nice things in respect to others, regardless of whether they deserved any accolades. This included family cooks who, on occasion, did not live up to his meal expectations. On these occasions the cook on that day was still the "BEST COOK" according to him!
----- Gordon understood a reality that most of us face at one time or another---life's "not fair". But he also gave us a perspective to this reality from which we all can learn. Gordon couldn't always have his way. He experienced disappointment, anger and frustration like all of us but, in the end, he would say it "DOESN'T MATTER" as if he understood the meaning of life better than the rest of us.
-----Gordon was never in a hurry and when he was expected to put on his coat and go somewhere when he didn't want to, he would say "NOT QUITE YET"---another saying we all embrace.
-----No matter in which family member's vehicle Gordon was going to ride, he knew his favourite spot---front seat, passenger side! The family always extended this privilege to him, but not before playing a little game where he had to get there first! He would rush out of the house and occupy that seat before it was taken. We all rejoiced when we saw that smug look on his face, while rubbing his hands and saying "ME HAPPY".
----- We all remember Gordon at Christmas and on his birthday when he knew he could expect some presents. He was easily pleased. His eyes would light up; he would rub his hands together. It was an expression of joy in its purest form. On these occasions he was always anxious to open his presents, but took his sweet time as he wanted to savour the moment.
Gordon's niece Erin expressed these thoughts:
'I think that it is safe to say that Gordon's unconditional happiness, warm demeanor
and zest for life meant different things to different people. As one of Gordon's nieces,
I can honestly say that Gordon held a truly special place in many of my earliest
memories. As a very young child, I simply could not understand why this young man
received such a great deal of attention at all family gatherings. But as I grew older, it
became more and more apparent that Gordon's role at the centre of our celebrations
was, perhaps, of more value to us than to him. At every significant occasion, Gordon
never failed to remind us how to fully appreciate life. Gordon was a living example of
happiness in its purest form. He gave the children in his presence a gift more valuable
than all others--how to value the precious things in life. After all, as Gordon said best,
the rest of it just "doesn't matter.'
We are all better people because of our association with Gordon and have gained a feeling of comfort with, and acceptance of, those who are slightly different from us."
Regina, September 20, 2001