Starting Over (Dec 8, 2010)

Starting Over

Three days ago my Great-Uncle Hartley died at the age of 99. Last year he self-published a journal “Hartley’s Journal” of his thoughts and opinions of current and past events, along with some stories from his past that are humorous, if not relevant (which they were). The last page reads “Thank you for reading my journal…now go write your own.”

My last two posts are from over a year ago, so I’ll start over from here. What follows is the eulogy I wrote for his funeral next week, which my father will read for me in my absence. Uncle Hartley read my eulogy for my grandmother 7 years ago.

Let me start off by saying that I hope everyone here can forgive my dad for not being able to do the Donald duck voice. Uncle Hartley’s impressions resonate through my mind as if he was standing next to me right now and it would have been a cool way to start this speech:“Hi everybody, why are you all so sad? Turn that frown upside down!99 years is a long time for a duck.”


I hope everyone here is in a mood to celebrate Uncle Hartley’s long and amazing life. While no one can be entirely prepared for this day, we should all be smiling with the memories of the funny stories he told and the boyish, sheepish grin with which he told them.


I envy those of you who got to spend the better part of their lives with or close to Hartley. Living so far away makes times like this difficult for me because in the end, all we have is family. We make this journey through life sort of like how Hartley and Clare travelled.We go from place to place for a random length of time, attempting to experience new things and places with our own independent points of view, hoping to find things to inspire us…while always “checking in” with the folks back home. They matter the most, after all. “Are the kids ok? Just making sure. Need a hand with anything? …are you sure you don’t need us to come back home early?” (Maybe all of this was from a payphone in Albuquerque). The point being: we are never entirely alone, even if you live in the middle-of-nowhere Ontario like me.


I know that all of you who were lucky enough to live closer to Hartley than myself treasured every experience with him. Not just for the funny stories, but for the inspiration of his never-ending will to learn and experience new things, as well as the genuine interest he took in all of your lives. I’m grateful that despite the distance between myself and Hartley, that the internet brought us closer together in the last few years. There’s nothing like feeling needed and for someone like him to need me in any capacity is an honor I’ll hold on to for the rest of my life.


The same goes for family in general. You need to all need each other for life to be worth living. Look at your loved ones right now and reflect on that for just a minute.


Goodbye Hartley


I’ll miss you forever… and yes, I’m still fascinated by how that toilet worked in the RV you had back in 1980. Thanks for helping me keep my mind young. I’ll keep smiling like you, as if I were 10 years old.


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