A Thank You to My Brother

For close to a year we have been planning renovations at our house. Not the kind meant to just change or beautify a space, but to make it accessible. We asked my brother Logan to be our contractor, as he had recently made a career change and started his own firm, Logan Grant Design.

Logan, Amanda and their children Oliver, Harrison and Teagan live on the same street as us, just one block down. This has long been a gift that I don’t take for granted and have certainly been keenly aware of through this crazy time. Logan has been readily available for so many things: coming quickly when a delivery arrives unannounced, being present for the variety of tradespeople, and doing beautiful work himself. He also chats with and listens to me.

This has not been an easy project. The scope of this renovation is large and is taking time to complete. Logan has been managing a variety of expectations, all in the relative public eye that is following our story. I will be honest and say that at times I have felt fiercely protective of him. He took a risk in saying yes to us. Few people would be willing to work for family, but Logan agreed to, seemingly without a second thought.

It has been a pleasure to watch my brother flourish in his new work. I regularly hear our plumbers, electricians, drywallers, window-makers, etc. comment on what a good guy Logan is. He has been quickly enfolded into the tight world that is construction. I think that says a lot about his work-ethic and communication skills.

The renovation is close to being done. Dion came to try out the basement this weekend, sleeping in the house for the first time in over a year. There are kinks to be worked out and we still don’t know what kind of care will be made available to us (a crucial piece of this puzzle). There is a lot of nervous energy floating around. And, it is to be celebrated that we have come this far. As Logan’s son Harrison wisely told me a few months back: “Auntie Erinn, one day this is all going to be figured out and it will be good”.

I always thought our Dad, an interior designer, would be around to help with modifying this house. Since his death I have often lamented not being able to talk all of this through with him. I grieve that our Mom is not here. She would love getting updates and be thrilled to test-drive the lift in the living room. Watching Logan, seeing his eye for design, getting to talk with him nearly every day…it all reminds me of our parents. I am comforted by Logan’s presence.

Logan, thank you for everything. Your work, your friendship, and your management of a very complicated situation has not gone unnoticed. I am proud to be your sister. Thank you to Amanda and the kids too. I love you all very much.

Walter “Wally” Bradshaw

The first time I met Wally he was wearing a western style shirt, a black leather vest, and a bolo tie. A tall man, he looked down on me and said, “I heard a rumour you’re a musician”. Discovering a shared interest in music was the beginning of our friendship.

A Parkdale fixture, Wally could usually be found at Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, or outside the former Queen’s Donuts Coffee House (where he would occasionally buy me a donut I swear was about as large as my face). He would come to The Dale too, most often to our Open Mic events and more recently, our Sunday service.

Over the years Wally accumulated a large amount of sound gear. He was generous with it and would routinely bring it along whenever needed. A guitar player, Wally was notably a part of The Jolly Roger Band. I recall him excitedly sharing the CD they pressed and talking about how to launch it.

I’m quite certain that Wally inquired about my daughter Cate nearly every time I saw him. He liked to call her “little one”, I suspect because she was so young when he first met her. I think he always pictured her as the five-year-old who loved to perform at the Open Mic nights. Less than a month ago, sixteen-year-old Cate came along to visit Wally in the hospital. He looked at her and said, “I’d like the little one to teach me how to play the ukulele”. Cate was game, but sadly now won’t have the opportunity.

I remember when Wally told me he was sick. He was very matter-of-fact about it, though that didn’t mask his worry. There was a lot of room for hope, and so I tried to lean on that. As things progressed, Wally became weaker and weaker. He relied a great deal on Devon, a Dale community member, who was both his friend and care-giver. I felt honoured that Wally, often via Devon, was continuously inviting me in for visits. We had many opportunities to chat and, at his request, pray.

Recently I got to meet Wally’s daughter and son, both of whom he talked about frequently. I always count it a privilege to meet the families of my friends in Parkdale, and this was no different. To them, the rest of his family, and to his large circle of friends, I want to offer my condolences. As one who knows how complicated grief can be, I pray for each of you as you embark on its journey.

Joanna, Meagan and I got to see Wally for the last time on Monday afternoon. He died in the early hours of Tuesday, March 5th. I am relieved that he is out of pain AND terribly sad. It is amazing how those two feelings can co-exist. I know his death has come as a huge shock to many, having been one of those people we somehow expected to always be around. Wally: you will be missed. I hope you’re hosting a dance party, enjoying food, and maybe even learning the ukulele. Cate and I will be sure to play a song for you.

Walter Bradshaw

March 21, 1953 – March 5, 2019

Surprised by Kindness

He fell flat onto the very cold pavement. From the car we were sitting in, Meagan saw him land. I immediately jumped out to run over and see if he was okay. Blood was streaming out of his face, but he was lucid and trying to get up. Meagan joined me and we got him seated on the curb. She stayed closed to him, while I called 9-1-1.

I realized I knew him. “Tom!”

“How do you know MY name?”

“Tom, it’s Erinn. Remember me? From The Dale. I was at your sibling’s funeral. You and I, we’ve had a lot of conversations over the years.”

A look of recognition swept over Tom’s face. While we began to chat, a person walking by took notice of the small set of bills falling out of Tom’s hand and jacket. He knelt down and offered to put the money safely in Tom’s pocket, zipping it closed, “you don’t want to lose that! Let me help”. Tom looked incredulously at all of us gathered at his side and said, “what’s going on? I should fall more often!”

The paramedics arrived quickly. They kindly got Tom on a stretcher and explained he would be getting checked out at the local hospital. As they prepared to move him into the ambulance, Tom reached out to try and give me a hug. We had to dissuade him because of the blood, but not before I told him I’d happily receive it the next time I see him.

As Meagan and I crossed the street to get to our drop-in, I was struck by how different it was for Tom to feel cared for. I lamented that he was so shocked by our attention, making that “I should fall more often” comment more than once. Tom has lived life hard. He often has a hood pulled over his face as he walks Queen Street, as though trying to hide. But I know him to be someone with gentle eyes and a broken heart.

I hope beyond hope that the next time we see Tom he might not be injured, that he might notice we notice him whatever his circumstances, and that I’ll be able to receive the hug. Kindness is something we all need. Tom included.