Saturday, October 25, 2014
Sunday, October 19, 2014
I consider it a great honor and privilege to stand before you today on behalf of my sisters, Tracy and Krista, and myself to pay tribute to a man who has had such a huge impact on so many people including us. When I think about what he has seen in his lifetime and how many people knew, loved, and respected him I am truly humbled to be here. Thank you.
We called him Grandpa French before he was “officially” our Grandpa. We knew him and his first wife Elizabeth from church and loved going to their cottage. Elizabeth, was also Krista’s PAL in the PAL program, which partnered children with senior adults. Krista got to know her well and just loved her sense of humor. After Elizabeth passed and our Grandpa Lavender passed, Grandma marrying Grandpa French just made sense. We didn’t have to get to know some new person; this man who was already kind and generous to us was now becoming part of our family. And we were already calling him Grandpa anyway so it all made perfect sense to my 12 year old brain. Krista remembers their very hot wedding day in July of ’88. She teared up as Grandma walked down the aisle. She just loved seeing her so happy again. Grandpa French was a real gift for Grandma and our whole family, which we will forever be grateful for. I was also happy the cottage could become a more regular part of our lives! And that it did.
We became very familiar with the short “dip” in the cold pool Grandpa French would always come in for. A jump off the diving board, a swim to the other side and out! A dip is right. We learned how to navigate around the goose grease that Grandpa French was always battling to get to the water and take out the canoe. As much as the geese must have annoyed him I always heard him talk about it as a problem to solve and not something that was infringing on his rights. He had a love and respect for God’s creation, which I’m sure has influenced me to this day. Occasionally Grandpa French would even take us out in the motorboat for a very very slow ride.
Now that Grandma and Grandpa French were married and living at the cottage, we were going to the cottage in the winter too and getting to enjoy the wood burning stove and skating the frozen lake. That stove mesmerized me. I’m sure that particular stove is why I’m always trying to find a way to get one into whatever house we live in. We’d come in after a cold afternoon of trying to skate on snow covered bumpy ice, feet aching, and warm up by the fire. Grandpa French would always remind us how burning wood would warm you up three times! Once when you cut the wood, once carrying it in, and then of course when you burn it. He was green long before it was cool.
As a teenage boy I always loved spending time in Grandpa French’s shop. It seemed like such a cool little getaway spot to get work done. The tools were organized on the walls, each one had its place and there was always a distinct smell in there. Varnish, or paint thinner or something that communicated to me experienced craftsman at work. Speaking of green, he did a great job repurposing the frame of an old waterbed. Dad bought a new stereo and I got to have the old one in my bedroom but I wanted to put the speakers up in the corners and didn’t know how to do it. Well, I explained this to Grandpa French and he took that frame to his shop and made a couple of corner shelves for me to put those speakers on in my bedroom, as well as a TV stand for Mom and Dad and eventually a CD case for my wife Sherri and I.
Eventually it made more sense for Grandma and Grandpa French to move out of the cottage and in with Mom and Dad. If it wasn’t clear before, Grandpa French’s sweet tooth became quite evident to us all now. Tracy reminded me how he used to always say “apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze” and we used to enjoy date squares which he liked to call “matrimonial cake”, since it was “two things brought together by dates.” This is also where he perfected his apple pie made in a toaster oven recipe! We will definitely miss his apple pies.
We can’t imagine the loss Grandpa French had to deal with in his life, being widowed twice and outliving pretty much all of his contemporaries. He was a man of strength, routine, discipline, commitment, love and generosity. He always greeted everyone with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye. He ate oatmeal on odd days and cereal with milk on even days or maybe it was the other way round. He did his stretches every morning and was always sure to get his nap in! In the last few years he would leave Mom and Dad’s after Sunday dinner saying, “That’s my cue to go for a rest.”
He gave of himself. He truly loved us and adopted us as his own which has helped us all to know and experience what unconditional love is. I’m sure his ability to show this love stemmed directly from his relationship with Jesus, the author of love. He so clearly lived a life influenced by Jesus, so full of love and joy.
Grandpa French has left a wonderful legacy for all of us. We have been challenged these last few days and will continue to be as we remember how he lived and how much it has affected our lives. Tracy, Krista and I hope that remembering Grandpa French today will also inspire you and challenge you to follow his example in how you live and how you love each other.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
I picked up my boys from school yesterday right after I got home from the airport. This was the first time I picked them up with no more tours looming on the horizon. It was a moment I hadn't expected or prepared for. They were expecting Mom to pick them up so it was a great surprise that was immediately obvious on both of their faces. I think it was Bram telling me that he missed me that snapped everything into focus though. He got me choked up yet again. There's been a lot of that lately! I can pick these guys up nearly every day now if that's what we want to do. Extended away times are done!
For how great that is I still found myself, just a couple of days ago, suddenly weeping because of this ending. Although parts of this job have been so very difficult, we have endured so much together that it makes it difficult to finally stop. The drive that has kept me pushing through all the tough times has an incredible amount of momentum behind it. But here we are. It has stopped. Everything eventually does. We loaded the trailer for the last time, slept on the bus for the last time and set up all our gear for the last time. I've been marking so many of these "last times" I've lost track. Now it is time to enter the next season and there is so much to look forward to yet again.
I have shared an incredible 12 years with some of the most talented people I know. Jason, Marc and Jeremy, we have made a great team over the years and it has been a privilege to share the stage and to share life with each of you! My life has been enriched and will continue to be by your friendship. I sure hope we have another album in us when the dust settles!
A good chunk of those 12 years was also spent with Dave and Jessica Lewis and Wesley Morris. I sure have missed all of you since you have left this circus but I'll always think of you when I think of the road. You are some the dearest friends I have!
And to those of you who have listened to our music, come to shows, bought the t-shirt, hosted us in your home, shuttled us around, promoted shows, told your friends about us, etc... A HUGE thank you! It is because of you we were able to record as many albums as we did and stay on the road as long as we did. But the biggest thank you needs to go to our wives. If you are a fan of Downhere then by default you are a fan of the ladies who have supported their husbands throughout this whole process. Words will never truly describe the thankfulness and awe I have for these ladies and what they have endured to keep the music coming. Thank you girls and much love to all of you!
A new day, a new dream, a new life
This is only the beginning
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
I have friends with great taste in literature. Last summer I ventured out to read Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev as recommended by one of these friends. I mentioned it here. I enjoyed it but it was definitely a different style of reading for me and pretty thick with unknown terms (to me) used in the Jewish culture. What I loved about it was that it placed me in an environment and culture that I really knew very little about. And it also made me feel very smart to be reading a book that wasn't by Dan Brown and also was not intended for children!
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
. . . only one of them has laid. Yes, this is proudly our first egg thanks to Babs!
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
One of the great things about travelling so much is the amount of idle time I have waiting at airports, sitting on planes and just travelling in general which enables me to read a lot. And one of the main reasons I set up this blogwas to keep track of what I read and learn so here we go!
Ever since I got into reading Stephen Lawhead, my interest in history has definitely increased. Lawhead is an historical fiction writer which is a genre I hadn't been interested in in the past. Reading his stories though take me right into historical Britain or Scandinavia or wherever hehappens to be writing about. I know nothing of the history of these places or their culturesand it is so fascinating to me to see how Lawhead puts them all together. All this to say, I have been on somewhat of a history journey lately. (Is it a history or an history? Article confusion!)
This history journey took me into the arctic in the last 6 months. It all started with a book I read back in 2009 called The Ice Master. I talked about that in this post. More recently I read Pierre Berton's The Arctic Grail: The Quest For Northwest Passage and the North Pole. This is an exhaustive history of what went on in the arctic during the 1800's. The main storyline being how so much of the western world was occupied withfinding a trading passage through the arctic. One interesting thing that stood out to me was how there seemed to be a belief among many well educated people back then that once you got beyond the pack ice of the arctic - closer to the north pole - there were temperate waters which could easily be travelled. Perhaps even temperate or even tropical land with people living on them. This belief caused many boats and lives to be lost.
This time in history would have been an exciting time to be alive. The Earth hadn't been fully mapped yet so these men were truly exploring the islands of the north arctic. Naming them after people who had helped fund their journey or even after themselves. Not knowing what layahead of them - more ice, temperate waters, land, being the first to discover the northwest passage or the north pole, these trips must have been exhilarating for these men. I enjoyed living vicariously through them for sure. And yes, I did look up adventure trips to the north to see if some of these places were available to visit. Indeed they are and they have now been added to my mental bucket list! I haven't even begun to tell of one of the main characters/explorers of this era, John Franklin. His story alone is worth the read. If you have any interest in history, exploration, the arctic, the British navy or Canadian history I think you would enjoy this book.
Terry Fallis's publishing journey is a cross between a Cinderella story and a DIY show. When his manuscript for his first and very funny book, The Best Laid Plans, was passed over by literary agents, he began podcasting the story, one chapter at time, in 2007. The podcast became so popular that Terry decided to self-publish his manuscript.
Then, on a whim, he submitted his book to the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. It won! The following week, Terry signed with McClelland & Stewart and the happy ending to this Cinderella story seemed complete.
But there were more glad tidings to come. The Best Laid Plans made it onto the Canada Reads Top 10, and subsequently was selected by Canadian-born CNN broadcaster Ali Velshi for this year's debates.
For one who is not into politics this was a good foray into the life of Canadian politics in Ottawa. Some very funny moments and some rich characters. I'm looking forward to reading his next book which apparently is on the way.
While reading Asher Lev a new friend suggested reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is the true story of a man who's determination, tragedy, resilience and redemption are very rare and maybe even unequalled. Here's a quick summary of Louie Zamperini's life. (spoiler alert) He went from a poor thieving immigrant child to a high school track star to an olympic runner who meets Hitler, to enlisting in the war against Japan, to crashing in the Pacific andbeing stuck on a raftfor 30??? days to being captured by the Japanese to becoming a POW and fighting everything that entails, to surviving the POW camps and returning to America. He gets married, is tormented by vivid dreams of his time as a POW, has trouble coping and becomes an alcoholic, becomes abusive to his wife, they almost divorce, the thought of going to Japan and killing one of his POW guards is the only way Louie believes he can get on with his life, Louie's wife gets saved at a Billy Graham crusade and convinces/forces Louie to go. Billy Graham's words reach Louie and he becomes a Christian. Overnight the drinking stops and the dreams stop, he still wants to go to Japan but now to forgive his captor. This is an incredible story and one that will not disappoint you if you pick it up. Highly recommended!
If you have any recommendations based on what you see here or know of me please pass them along!
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Fly Fishing - various books and authors
My Name Is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok
The Best Laid Plans - Terry Fallis
The Battle Of Lake Erie - Pierre Berton
Attack On Montreal - Pierre Berton
The Ice Passage - Brian Payton
The Search For The Arctic Grail and the North Pole - Pierre Berton