Category Archives: memoir

Lou Bourgeois: A Charming Man Celebrates a Century

Lou Bourgeois was born 100 years ago today in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. As he celebrates the day simply with his loving daughter Maggie, JoAnn and I will mark the occasion by saying it is an honor to know him as a friend. He is the most charming man I’ve ever known: an engaging raconteur, a vivid yet self-effacing storyteller, a keen and genuinely curious listener, a passionate lover of music and books. He’s been a thoughtful reader of this website since its inception. And he’s the only person on the planet who still refers to me as “Young Mark.” When I grow up, I want to be just like him! Continue reading






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Remembering “the love that let us share our name”

Here’s my Christmas surprise for 2014. I was throwing out boxes of obscure stuff when something made me dig through the trash one more time, searching for something I’d missed or lost. It was a photo of my mother and sister, Mary Lou and Diana. It must have been taken around this time in 1944. I know it was a difficult time in Lou’s life. She was a single mother worried about her soldier-husband’s fate somewhere in northern France as the war raged on. I hadn’t seen this image before; it astonishes me. How happy she looks! I offer it here for all her children and grandchildren as a token of “the love that let us share our name.”






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Fare Thee Well, Sam Samster

Sam was the king of the Oakville cats. He was a mensch. His presence will animate our lives long after his passing.






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Praying for a Piano Player

Every family with an oral tradition has a story that is told and re-told at Christmas until it acquires the power of myth. This is mine. It tells how my grandmother, Ona Willis, joined the Salvation Army. It was a … Continue reading






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10 Years On: 9/11 Families Grieve At Ground Zero

I watched much of C-Span’s coverage of today’s 9/11 memorial service at Ground Zero in New York City. Blessedly, speeches by politicians were minimal, and the event was devoted to naming those who died in the attacks. Relatives read the names, two speakers at a time, while others in the audience sought out and touched their loved ones’ names cast in bronze tablets that line the reflecting pools that now fill the footprints of the World Trade Center towers.






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