To Mourn and Remember

TORONTO (Mar. 22) — This has been an awful day.

First, we awaken here in North America to the news that at least 31 people have been killed (and scores wounded) in yet another terror attack — this one in Brussels, Belgium. And then, in mid–morning, we learn not unexpectedly, but startlingly nonetheless, that the former mayor of our city, Rob Ford, has succumbed to cancer at a mere 46 years of age. Suddenly, the Toronto Maple Leafs ruining their draft–lottery stance isn’t of particular merit or import. Nothing like a good smack of perspective to place things in order.

Ford’s international profile — governed by a squabble with personal demons — was such that CNN sporadically interrupted its wall–to–wall coverage of the Brussels tragedy to inform about the ex–mayor’s death. Closer to home, Ford’s passing overshadowed tabling of the first federal Budget under Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Perhaps as a result of his front–page foibles, our one–time city leader was finally offered in death what rarely came his way late in life — empathy, foremost, as a person; as a son, a husband, father and sibling. Not as a contentious politician and flawed human being (show me an un–flawed human and I’ll show you a flying pig). Our hearts prevailed on a terribly heart–wrenching Tuesday.

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ROB FORD’S DEATH MADE NEWS LOCALLY (ABOVE) AND ON CNN’S HEADLINE NEWS CHANNEL (BELOW).

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IN THE LIVING YEARS…

Five months before his cancer diagnosis and just more than one month after his celebrated Hollywood appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Rob Ford stopped by the monthly gathering of National Hockey League alumni in Markham, north of Toronto. It was Apr. 7, 2014 and the mayor made an appearance to celebrate the 95th birthday of Wally Stanowski — then, the oldest surviving member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ford posed with Stanowski and presented him a plaque from City Hall. Sadly, both are now gone. Wally never missed an alumni lunch until he entered hospital last summer. He died at 96 years of age on June 28, 2015.

I was fortunate to be on hand for the Wally/Rob reunion with my trusty NIKON:

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WALLY STANOWSKI AND ROB FORD (ABOVE AND BELOW) IN MARKHAM, ONT. — APR. 7, 2014.

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ROB FORD (LEFT) AND HIS BROTHER, CITY COUNCILLOR DOUG FORD, TOOK A MOMENT AT THE ALUMNI EVENT WITH MAPLE LEAFS LEGENDARY DEFENSEMAN BOB BAUN (MIDDLE).

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AND, OF COURSE THE MAYOR WANTED TO MEET THE GREAT JOHNNY BOWER.

May the names of all those who perished on this day be a blessing.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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