To-day is my 86th birthday. Listening to my husband Neil’s radio show, “Lemons and Laurels” on CJAD radio, Montreal, was a memorable gift.
Every Friday, he would ask his listeners, “What’s on your mind?” in that irresistible voice of his. Then he would throw out a breathtaking array of questions related to the key issues of the day. Five years ago, for example, he was already throwing out questions about Donald Trump and his attitude towards the Birther issue as you will see on an earlier blog. (see sidebar on blog)
By the way, one of the reasons our team is keeping the blog going is to encourage young people to write if they are so inclined, and to follow their dreams as Neil did in spite of huge obstacles.
Now back to yesterday’s blog. Neil mentions Pierre Elliott Trudeau in passing and somewhat critically. However I know that he greatly admired Trudeau through the major part of his career. We both sat enthralled at the Paul Sauvé Arena, a night that proved to be a turning point in the 1980 Québec referendum on separation.
Neil honestly believed that Quebecers were better off within Canada as it gradually increased the status of bilingualism through train station announcements in every city across the country, and in countless other aspects of our national life.
There is also a picture of Neil watching Pierre Trudeau throw out the first puck at the inaugural hockey game of the Special Olympics in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. We included that picture in the new book Neil McKenty Live — The Lines are Still Blazing! that we put out recently thanks to the help of a brilliant editor and writer Alan Hustak. I had collected 500 pages about Neil, including newspaper articles about his five books, his radio and TV shows, and his unpublished short gems of writing. Alan Hustak edited the whole thing into a readable short 100 plus pages and saved my sanity. A brand new edition has just been put out by the American publisher Lightmessages in Durham North Carolina. It will soon go out to libraries across Canada, a story of hope in the midst of impossible odds.
Neil coped with bipolar disorder and depression throughout a great deal of his life, unknown to anyone except close friends until he wrote his very honest memoir The Inside Story. We were married for 40 years and I consider it the greatest privilege of my life to have shared that journey with Neil, difficult though it often was. I hope to write more about that as I go along. Enough for now !!
Thank you to all those who follow this blog. Please feel free to send along any pieces of writing (short) of your own to put up on the Tuesday conversation on writing. I loved the poem that a four-year old from Ireland put up a couple of years ago, followed by her seven-year old sister.
To be continued thanks to the team of Richard, Jean, Rosie and Stéphanie.
Cheers, Catharine McK.