Essential Lyrics #4: The Last Song

The Last Song marked the first of Elton John‘s American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation. In an interview with the gay magazine The Advocate, Elton remarked: I was crying all the time as I wrote the music… and it was very hard for me to sing it. The song tells of an estranged father coming to terms with the sexuality of his gay son, who is dying from AIDS. The song is beautiful and haunting, with only piano, vocals and a bit of synth.

The Last Song

Yesterday you came to lift me up
As light as straw and brittle as a bird
Today I weigh less than a shadow on the wall
Just one more whisper of a voice unheard

Tomorrow leave the windows open
As fear grows please hold me in your arms
Won’t you help me if you can to shake this anger?
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm

‘Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel this fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love between a father and his son

Things we never said come together
The hidden truth no longer haunting me
Tonight we touched on the things that were never spoken
That kind of understanding sets me free

‘Cause I never thought I’d lose
I only thought I’d win
I never dreamed I’d feel this fire beneath my skin
I can’t believe you love me
I never thought you’d come
I guess I misjudged love between a father and his son

Songwriters: Elton John / Bernie Taupin
The Last Song lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Hst Publishing Ltd., Cow Dog Music Inc.

Remembering Jake

I was digging through our filing cabinet yesterday in search of some receipt or other, when I came across the funeral memorabilia I had filed when Dad died in 2015. In the file I found Dad’s graveside eulogy delivered on May 13, 2015 by Tom Peters, a warm, wonderful, kind, intelligent man who was the funeral home Director at that time. Sadly, Tom passed in July, 2018, but he left these kind words behind about our Dad, Jake Job. I publish this post to share with the world my love, pride and respect for my parents.


Today will certainly be a day of goodbyes – goodbye to a Dad, a Grandpa, a great-Grandpa and a great-great Grandpa, and there is a certainly a great deal of finality here at the Cemetery as we lay Jake Job to his place of rest.

Just to the north of us amongst all those trees over there, the very first committal service took place at this cemetery, just over 142 years ago in 1873. The Fleishman family stood here at this cemetery much like we’re doing today to say goodbye to their mother Margaret. Granted they were dressed a little differently than we are, they got to the cemetery in a different way than we did, I don’t see any horse and buggies, and the surroundings would be very different. Then, Innisfail was called Poplar Grove and the town looked nothing like it does in 2015. With each passing year, the town will continue to change and this cemetery will continue to expand and, unfortunately, for a lot of us this won’t be our first time here. But we have much in common with the Fleishman family when they had to bury someone they loved, as well as the thousands since then. To figure out and discover how our lives will change now that a loved one has died and how we incorporate their memory – those good things that they lived out in life – how we incorporate those things into our ongoing lives. So today will not be so much about saying goodbye but I think more appropriately to say thank you to Jake for what he has left behind and for the impact and influence he will continue to have.

Fill Not Your Heart
Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow,
but remember me in every tomorrow.
Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles
I've only gone to rest a while.
Although my leaving caused pain and grief,
My going has eased my hurt and given me relief.
So dry your eyes and remember me
Not as I am now, but as I used to be,
Because I will remember you all and look on with a smile,
Understand, in your hearts, I've only gone to rest a little while
As long as I have the love of each of you,
I can live my life in the hearts of all of you.

May 13, 2015 will be a day to celebrate that which remains for Jake. His continued legacy will always be before you and I know that there can be no greater gift in death, knowing that one’s life was lived in such a way that other’s lives can never be the same and I believe that to be true of Jake.

I’ve been thinking these last few days on what that continued legacy of Jake looks like, what it might mean for those of you here, how your lives might change since May 9, 2015, the day of his passing. What keeps coming to mind for me about Jake is the five generations picture that was taken in January. It truly is a wonderful picture. Five generations don’t happen very often. The picture itself was incredible and that moment in time should be cherished and treasured. What impacted me the most was seeing the span of almost one hundred years between Grandpa Jake and newborn Isaiah – what truly are the qualities, what truly are the important traits that can be passed down from generation to generation? I can thank my father for my lack of hair line, I can thank my mother for a quirky sense of humour and on my wife’s side, the blue eyes and the big feet seemed to be passed on to every generation. I can tell just by looking at some of you – and sometimes you may not want to admit it – but you’re definitely related! There’s many of the same physical characteristics, whether its height, body shape, eye color, there’s no doubt that you are all connected in some way physically. But what caught my attention about Jake is, yes, there’s physical characteristics he passes down but it goes way deeper; there’s traits that he passes down to each of us that the passage of time can never affect.

What came through so very clearly was Jake’s work ethic. He always wanted to be a farmer and he took the profession as a gift he was given in life and did the very best he could with it. There really is no greater gift in saying that Jake truly was a farmer for all his 98 years.

In the newspaper article, the picture of him looking outside when he was at Autumn Glen Lodge is awesome. He might be checking the weather, seeing if it was conducive to seeding, to harvesting, to maybe having to shut it down for the day because a storm front was coming in. I looked at that picture for a long time and I wondered if he had that same look, looking to the skies about seventy years ago when he stood by his land for the very first time – the very land that had yet to be worked on – and wondered if it was conducive, realistic to the adventure this would set him on.

This farm land, it had never been worked before and here’s this farmer, with not many resources, still a bit green perhaps, but ready to work this land. I’m sure there were many questions: was this the right thing to do?, was it worth the investment?, what would it produce?, do I trust that I have the abilities to do this? He might have taken a glance at his horse and wondered “can we do this?”. Perhaps in later years he would look at his first tractor and wonder “is my tractor truly ready for this”? He might have surveyed the land and thought that particular area might need some extra care, might take a little longer to ensure the seed can grow. There might have been some rocks to take out before the horse gets harnessed and before the tractor gets fired up. But despite the obstacles, despite the uncertainties, to me this is what so needs to be passed down to any generation: he started his tractor, he harnessed that horse and the potential of what that land could yield kept him on that tractor even up to May 9th. The work was unrelenting and back-breaking but he and Hazel never gave up, they never stopped, it was always worth the investment.

Jake would always ask in those last years of his life, “did you get your barley in?”. He wanted farm updates all the time and kept checking the weather conditions. Through Jake’s life I think he asks all of us today – are we ready to break new ground? Have we planted our seed despite the conditions? First hand, Jake would know that conditions aren’t always going to be cooperative: sometimes our tractors are going to have breakdowns, sometimes we will need repair and the terrain can be something we’ve never asked for in life. He would say don’t let fear of the unknown stop us. Stay on the tractor. Growth always involves a level of discomfort, the discomfort is short lived but the growth lasts forever.

I’m sure we have all been in situations where we were asked to break new ground, where it’s uncomfortable and risky, where it’s going to demand us to use every resource we have. Jake would encourage us, too, that we don’t have to figure everything out before we turn the ignition on, before the horse gets harnessed; we won’t be perfect but the more the ground is worked, the easier the seed can grow.

What lasting memory of Jake can we integrate into our ongoing lives? What has he passed on to you that Isaiah, and maybe even my future grandchildren, can be taught? What can the passing of time never take away? Change is constant in our world. Fashion, transportation and technology have changed, not only in the last 142 years since the Fleishman family was here, but will continue to change. The best parts of Jake will continue to live on, though, and among the good memories which one will you allow to transform who you are?

Through you, parts of Jake’s individuality and influence can thread through each day ahead, each year, adding to the tapestry of your life and the lives that follow yours. In that dedicated way, those good things even death itself cannot silence.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born… and a time to die. Here and now … in this final act… in sorrow but without fear… in love and appreciation… we commit Jake to this sacred place.

You can look through the whole world and find that there will never be another Jake Job but he still lives on in your memories. Though no longer a visible part of your lives, he still remains a member of your family and of your circle, through the influence he has had on you and the special part he played in your lives.

My wife and I have a favourite show every Sunday night called Once Upon A Time. It’s a show featuring fairy tale characters living in today’s world. On Sunday night’s episode there was a scene where a boy named Henry has a magic quill. What is written down from the quill becomes reality. Henry is talking with the Sorcerer’s apprentice – he’s the one throughout time who decides who should have the task of being the Author, the one who is given this magic quill, the one who can determine the fate of characters and whether they can have a happy ending. Henry, who is now the Author, looks at his quill and the blank page before him and wonders if he can bring his Dad back from the dead. The apprentice replies – and I want to close our time with this – “Henry, that sadly can never be undone”. The best way to show your love for those who are gone is to tell their stories. These stories of staying on the tractor, persevering through the unknown, loving what you do, treasuring and caring for what you’ve been given – and knowing you can never have enough pie – these can never be erased. They are more than stories, they are the truth and the truth is what we must write in our own stories, stories that can be passed to each generation, a wonderful picture to be cherished and treasured.

Dad’s obituary can be found here.

Apology to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two Spirit, Plus Community in the Diocese of Toronto from Bishop Andrew Asbil

Bishop Andrew Asbil apologized to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit Plus community in the Diocese of Toronto on June 25 at St. James Cathedral. Here is the text of the apology. The apology can also be viewed on the Diocese’s YouTube channel.

Preface

You are home, this is your home. You are sisters, brothers and siblings in Christ, fully in this community.

I spoke these words to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, 2 Spirit, Plus community in 2019, in the context of my charge to synod. My words were meant to give comfort and reassurance in the wake of the decision by General Synod 2019 to not amend the Marriage Canon. My words were meant to be heard by the whole diocese calling us to systemic change – the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in our common life.

You are home, this is your home. You are sisters, brothers and siblings in Christ, fully in this community.

I needed to say those words, because they are words that the queer community wanted to hear clearly spoken. The Church has not been a safe home for our queer community. For too long we have failed to listen and to believe the experiences of our faithful siblings. We have too often been quick to judge, to dismiss, to marginalize and sometimes to condemn. And sometimes we have chosen to be silent in the face of the suffering of our queer lay members, clergy, their families and friends, further deepening wounds of exclusion.

On Pentecost 2020, the Diocese of Toronto released the Marriage Policy that permits all clergy, if they choose, to marry LGBTQ2S+ couples. And, requires that all members of the clergy and the laity shall treat with respect the diversity of views about the theology of marriage held within the Diocese, as described in the document.

Words of welcome and inclusion, and written policies that support them, are critically important, but there are other words that need to be said.

In the hope of acknowledging the past, bringing healing in the present, and paving a path home for queer members, I offer these words of apology, regret and repentance, to our queer siblings in Christ, in the Diocese of Toronto.

Apology and Call to Action

As your Bishop, I apologize for the times and ways that we have failed to honour and cherish you, beloved children of God, made in the image of our Creator, redeemed by the love of our Saviour and embraced by the Holy Spirit.

I apologize for the teachings, words and actions that indicated that you are unwelcome, that you stand outside the grace and love of God in Jesus Christ and that you are unworthy to serve fully as members of the Body of Christ because of your sexual identity and orientation.

I apologize for the teachings, words and actions that have diminished your humanity, sexuality and identity and perpetuated the sins of homophobia and transphobia in the Church.

I apologize for the teachings, words and actions that marginalised queer members, many of whom have left the Anglican Church. I am sorry for the hurt inflicted on you and your families and friends who have also suffered. Deeper still, I am sorry for queer people who fell into despair and depression or chose to end their lives by suicide because we failed to support them with love and acceptance.

I apologize for the times that we have been silent in the face of homophobic/transphobic comments, slurs and whispers that created a culture of aggression and oppression further injuring you.

I apologize for the times when you were not treated with dignity, as full members of the Body of Christ, in worship, in parish life, at diocesan gatherings and in the councils of the church.

I apologize that so many of our queer clergy needed to conceal their sexual orientation or sexual identity out of fear of being outed or disciplined. I am sorry for those who lost their God-given vocation or opportunities for holding offices because of their sexual identity and orientation.

I apologize for our failure to support, to uphold and to honour our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirit Siblings in Christ – by what we have done and by what we have left undone. In all of these ways – we were wrong.

I offer this apology with humility and turn to God in lament and sorrow. I pray for the healing of those who have been hurt, the healing of the church, and my own healing, and I look for the promise of new life in Christ.

As the Body of Christ, we strive to build communities of compassion and love, to be agents of reconciliation and justice in the name of Jesus. We are summoned to live out the covenant of our baptism which asks in part,

Will you seek to serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I declare to you now, as Bishop of Toronto, that Homophobia and Transphobia will not to be tolerated in the Diocese of Toronto.

I declare to you now, as Bishop of Toronto, that diversity training for all clergy and ordinands will include anti-phobia material.

I declare to you now, as Bishop of Toronto, that all queer clergy and lay leaders will be respected, their dignity upheld, and given equal opportunity for leadership in the mission and ministry of the Diocese.

I call upon the Anglican Diocese of Toronto to repent and turn from the ways we have mistreated our queer members and to seek reconciliation and healing.

I call upon the Church to reach out to those who have been marginalized by teachings, words, and actions that have inflicted wounds and hurt, and to offer words of remorse in sincerity and truth.

I call upon the Church to educate itself about the lives, contributions and giftedness of our queer siblings and to celebrate their presence in our midst and the depth of their faithfulness.

Our Diocese will seek to partner with other affirming churches and organizations who have walked this path in their communities, so that we can learn from them how to reflect back to society our commitment to being an affirming church. And I look forward to celebrating with you in liturgy that we are one family, together at home.

I stand before you to invite you to join me on a journey towards reconciliation, justice, healing and equity. A journey towards becoming whole, towards being the people of God.

I offer these words today with sincerity and humility, in the name of God who created us, Jesus Christ who redeems us, and the Holy Spirit, who empowers me to say again:

You are home, this is your home. You are sisters, brothers and siblings in Christ, fully in this community.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto

Throughout this apology and call to action, the acronym LGBTQ2S+ is used in conjunction with the word “queer”. For many, using the word “queer” may be a painful reminder of being diminished or maligned. On the other hand, I have been told that reclaiming and redeeming of the word in the past two decades has proven empowering for many, and especially in the younger demographic. “Queer” is one of the most inclusive terms one can use to describe the amazing breadth of the community. While LGBTQ2S+ specifically identifies Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Two-Spirit, the term “queer” is far broader. It includes but is not limited to all of those who identify with the letters in the acronym above, but also includes those who identify as non-binary, pansexual, allies and more. It is in the spirit of inclusion that I use both terms.

Introducing… Tulip!

It’s been a tough year for Vince and myself without our beloved Sophie, but the fates have now smiled on us 🙂

A Little Backstory

This past year I’ve had my name on well over 30 different Ontario dog breeder wait-lists for a puppy. Last week I received an unexpected email from Karen Anderson of Royal Frenchies, one of the many kennels where we’d been on a puppy wait-list (we were originally the 26th family on the waitlist and it would be an estimated 2 years before there would be a pup available.). Karen asked if we might be interested in a grown, 2-year old dog, rather than a puppy, which they had in their kennel. Royal Frenchies had imported this girl from The Netherlands for breeding in their kennel, but it turns out that the dog is infertile and unable to conceive – not a desirable situation when your business is breeding and raising French Bulldogs! What was the kennel’s loss, was our gain…. of course we said YES!!

Enter into our lives and home the beautiful Tulip, a red fawn French Bulldog. Her Dutch kennel name is Thyra (pronounced Tier-rah, with a strong roll on the letter r), but the breeders called her Tulip – much easier to pronounce and remember. We may shorten this to Tuli (too-lee) but the jury is still out on that one. Anyway, here she is!!:

This is Tulip’s bio from the Royal Frenchies website before they became aware she had a hormonal issue and couldn’t conceive.

Settling In

Tulip just came to us this past Wednesday, and some of you have already met her. She is still settling in, but so far she’s very comfortable here. Tulip’s a lovely, calm, independent girl who loves attention…. she’s come to the right household! She’s a perfect fit and we just love her to pieces:

Sophie will always be our Number 1 girl, but we are so happy and fortunate Tulip came to us. We will give her the best life any dog could ask for. Fingers crossed for many happy years ahead!

Remembering Sophie

Dearest Sophie: it’s been a year today since we had to say goodbye. We love and miss you so much, more than I’m capable of putting into words. You were wonderful and special, and will never be forgotten. Never.

We’ll meet you under the Rainbow Bridge someday, but until then you’re always in our hearts.

Today’s PhotoWalk

It was a beautiful day today, so naturally I went for a photowalk with my trusty camera. I wandered down to the Esplanade then back, capturing the city on a Saturday afternoon. Here’s a few shots from earlier today: