Today marks 4 years since our Chris died at the age of 47 from metastatic Prostate Cancer on March 2, 2008. We celebrated his life 6 days later with a memorial get-together inviting family and friends to our home rather than the usual stressful ‘funeral home’ experience (in the true spirit of the way we have always done things: at home). In honour of Chris’ memory, I’m posting the eulogy that our dear friend Ron wrote as it pretty well describes Chris’ life…..
“My Friend Chris
Chris was my best friend. I am sure that I am not the only one in this room making this claim. If Chris was not your best friend – he certainly was your good friend.
Chris was so easy to like:
• He could fix anything – from a car to a washing machine
• He owned every tool ever produced by mankind – and knew how to use them all
• He could move any household appliance – by himself
• He had a sense of humour that was sharp – but not cruel
• He brewed his own beer
• He was a Senators fan
• He had great stories
• He could talk on any subject – and – express an opinion – as he liked people to know: he was not always right – BUT – he was never wrong!
• He used to be a bouncer for a rock and roll band
AND – an added bonus – if you were standing next to Chris, there was not a bully in the world who would even think of kicking sand in your face! Who would NOT want this guy’s friendship?
There was a lot below the surface – Chris had a big heart and a gentle soul. He easily passed the test of the best judges of character – children and animals. It made your heart melt to watch him play Santa Claus to the neighbourhood kids and his grandchildren. Even though the children knew that it was Chris under that beard – he was still the real Santa. And the way dogs took to him, you would think Chris had roast beef in his pockets!
It was Chris’ nature to help. Being the “neighbourhood cop” kept us safe and secure. He would drop what he was doing to help a friend – or even a stranger. Here is one example: A few years back, just as he was leaving the neighbourhood Chris came upon a car that was in the ditch due to icy roads. Chris pulled over to see what he could do. As he was helping the driver out of her car, another vehicle lost control, struck Chris’ truck and destroyed it. Fortunately, no one was hurt. After the sting of dealing with the insurance company had passed, we kidded Chris that “no good deed goes unpunished.” But we knew a sour incident like that would not deter Chris. He could never turn his back and walk away from anyone that needed help.
I always suspected that Chris had led 2 lives -1 call them B.L. & A.L. – Before Linda and After Linda. I only knew the After Linda portion. I imagine the Before life was one in which Chris was a free spirit, who “lived large” – always ready to “party hearty” and probably acted like there was no tomorrow. The After part was a person who still loved to have fun – but – there was now a purpose and a future for his life – he had a home, a wife, children and even grandchildren.
This house and property was an ongoing project for Chris. The job list was endless – once a task was finished, 2 or 3 more would take its place. This is just the way Chris wanted things – he had a ready-made excuse for never considering a move – how could he leave here if there was unfinished work? There was always a wall to move, a path to build and of course – the Pond!
Family was Chris’ lifeblood. He would walk through fire for his children and grandchildren and he was fiercely loyal. He was ready to offer good advice to the kids -and was surprised when there was not always a follow-through. That was until he was reminded that he didn’t always do what he was told by his father. He was happiest when he was surrounded by family in this house. The noise and activity wrapped around him like a warm blanket. This was a man who had everything he really wanted.
Clearly, the love of his life was Linda. He had found his soul-mate – someone who he knew would keep all of the promises made years ago. What ever went wrong, Chris knew Linda would make it right. Della and I would see Chris and Linda walking together down the road, holding hands. We would smile and joke, “Look at those love-sick saps!” But Chris would be sure everyone knew he was no pushover – he insisted that he always got in the last word in “discussions” with Linda – by ending with those forceful words, “Yes Dear.”
The last few months of Chris’ life were very difficult ones. He battled a cruel illness that robbed him of his strength – but not his spirit. Often the treatments were as harsh as the disease. Through it all he kept looking to the future – worried more about others than himself. Chris kept going, despite the pain and loss of function that would make most of us wallow in self-pity. When he was knocked down, he got back up again. None of us were really surprised with his attitude – after all, this was Chris – did anyone think he would go down without a fight?
Chris has blessed us all. He loved and respected his parents. His brothers can be proud of his strength of character. His legacy lives on through his children and into another generation with his grandchildren. His wife had the devotion and companionship of an everyday hero – a great husband, father and provider. And for the rest of us – well, our lives have been made better because Chris was our friend.
March 08, 2008 ”