The past couple of weeks have been very rough for Anne. She is the eldest of six and now the youngest one, Hugh, is gone - completely gone.
Hugh was cremated. His ashes were in a beautiful box he made for my father's ashes. A revolving slide show represented the many aspects of his life and what we called his "GQ portrait" (below) was on display.
This is the poem that Anne wrote and read at his service ...
"Oh, Hugh ~ How can it be true?
We will have to get along without you.
You who could fix just about anything, except a broken heart.
"From the day you were born, the last of the six
You would not be told just what you could do
You would do it your own way, just as you please
And that made for trouble
which always brought someone, on the double!
"As your big sister, when not at school,
I was expected to take you, wherever I went
A teenage girl with a preschooler in tow
Attracts lots of attention
Not always the kind you would want!
"Afternoons we would go to the Centennial Pool
Where you made it your business to look up from under the doors
at the mostly naked ladies in each change room stall
“Get out of here!” the ladies would shriek
At a cute little boy just having a peek!
"There was one afternoon you were lucky to survive
bouncing on the high board
in saggy red trunks
A young man was about to take a dive
You pointed your finger as you shouted out
“Hey everyone look, it’s Big Dick!”
"Then you ran into the ladies' change room
As fast as your little legs would go
And a good thing too
He looked mad enough to strangle you!
"Oh, then there was that time when you
along with our brother Paul
Spotted that nice boy George Hancey
approaching the door
You saved up your saliva and from the window above,
The two of you spat on his nicely coiffed hair!
"When I caught you smoking out behind the back shed
I knew our Dad would have your head
I stepped in to protect you, doling out discipline instead
“No bicycle for a week!” I said
When our Dad asked why you were running to school
“Oh, I am training for track,” you said, ever so cool
"When I left home, in seventy-three
You often spent weekends visiting me
My boyfriend at that time
was a nice man named Rob
He taught you to play chess
And you got to be really good
“Why are you letting him win every time?” I asked
“I’m not!” declared Rob.
And you were just nine!
"Our mother described you as “a big feelin’ little feller”
Sounds like a quote – maybe from old yeller
When you were happy you danced
You loved with all your heart
You cried when you hurt
You were more sensitive than the rest of us all put together!
"You skated like a pro and lived to play hockey
That is until old Grampa Miner showed you how to catch fish!
From that moment on, alone or with friends
In summer and winter, you were a fish jockey!
"We’ll skip over the troubles of your teenagerhood
Talking about that period won‘t do any good
"Let’s go right to your most talented years
When you could do magic working with wood
Power tools were your friends most of the time
But when you were tired, they could get out of control
"So many people right here today
Have sat hours with you
in the Emergency room
Until bones could be set, fingers attached
and wounds closed with stitches
"I remember the time when I rushed over to Sunnybrook
They brought you in from the rescue helicopter
Unconscious, with a car steering wheel
imprinted on your chest
And other times when I was with you all night
Hoping and praying you would be all right
"Over the years you did plenty of work for us
In very old houses
It took lots of patience and ingenuity
Nothing was straight,
Not the walls, not the baseboards, not window, or door frames
You could make it all work
including electric and plumbing!
"You were a cheerful sort
Welcoming everyone with a genuine smile
You put people at ease and soon had them laughing
At your various accents and wry sense of humour
"You made friends with my neighbours in Woodstock
And even had a girl in town.
You know that even this past winter,
I met someone who said,
“Oh, you must be Hugh Miner’s sister!”
"You were your own man
Told me you did as you pleased
So very independent and proud
Quick to remind us we were the only miners – MINER in the book!
"With a satisfying job
Working with John at MCC
where you were highly valued
and had a regular routine
you managed for years
"Eventually, your addictions took over
And you lost control
Over and over, you refused to have help
You lost your purpose
and your interest in life
"Now you are free.
"I will remember you fondly
My dear little brother
With your bottomless well of love
You gave the best hugs
one heart to another
"Now you have left us
And gone on ahead
I hope you find those you have missed
And even a few places
you have not yet fished
"Until we meet again,
Please remember I love YOU!"
The service was brief and uplifting. With COVID restrictions, the crowd was small but the audience was large as Hugh's friends and relations watched the live stream. We will all miss him.