Colin’s Farewell Cruise

“Hurry up Granny, get your seatbelt on, we don’t want to miss the boat”, said nine year old Owen from the back seat of their van.

Super Grandpa had picked them up at their house on the next street and got them organised with lifejackets – just in case. Noah, now nearly four is very independent.

“Don’t help me, Grandpa! I can do it myself, I’m a big boy now!” he said while installing himself in the rear car seat and expertly fastening his seatbelt.

“Granny, Granny, Leo is pinching me! Tell him to stop!” yelled Owen. Leo, eight, the middle child, with a continual twinkle in his eyes is always ready for adventure and a play fight.

“Can we have music on, please, we are allowed level 15?”

Super Granny obeyed Owen’s command. The loud rock of a local radio station set the mood for the drive into the city. The children danced in their seats as Granny glanced behind to make sure that they hadn’t already magically turned into teenagers!

“Look!” said Grandpa as be pointed out a ground hog sitting up sunning himself on the grass median beside the highway.

“What a beautiful day for a Saturday cruise on the river!”

The music was forgotten, and turned off as they observed the passing scene. Tall cranes were helping to build new apartments, a road gang were repaving part of the highway. The smell of the hot tar filled our nostrils, as we slowed down into one lane.

“Granny, did you see they have four rollers following the other machine? Look at all of that steam! Is the road hot, what would happen if we walked on it?” asked our engineer Leo.

Grandpa explained about asphalt road surfaces as one of the yellow hard hatted workers winked at the children through the open car windows.

Further into town Granny pointed out a beautiful new building under construction.

“See that glistening round copper roof and the minuets? That’s a mosque.”

“Where is it, where is it?” inquired Leo as his eyes searched around him.

“You can’t miss it,” replied Granny, thinking that Leo was fooling her.

“Granny, I can’t see the muskrat!”

Onward past the War Museum, over the Booth Street Bridge that crosses the Ottawa River into Hull, Quebec.

“Where are the waterfalls, Granny?” asked Leo and Owen together.

“Keep looking to the left. They’re called the Chaudière Falls. Long ago lumberjacks went up river to cut down huge trees in the winter. Come spring they floated down on their big timber rafts and collected their pay right here in Bytown. That’s what Ottawa was called in those days. Here come the falls, look left”, added Granny.

“Oh my, they are only a trickle! We haven’t had much rain, and I guess they are holding back what they can behind the dam, to use the power to make electricity.”

“But Granny, the shapes of the rocks look more beautiful without water,” said Owen who has an artistic disposition.

“Granny, tell us again about your friend Colin who died and left some money for his friends to have a big party.”

“Sure! Colin was our friend for twenty nine years. He taught Chemistry at Algonquin College where Grandpa was also a professor. He loved parties, to dance and have fun, just like your Grandpa and Granny. We were part of a group call The Twelfth Night Society, in which we re-enacted medieval plays, fairs and also pretended that we were at the King or Queen’s Palace. Grandpa was the Jester, making people laugh and Colin, who made medieval instruments, played the lute. You will see some today and hear the music, maybe sing some of Colin’s songs.”

“When he retired, he had time to make lots of lutes for people and even a harp for his daughter, Alex. He also became a busker. Remember, a few weeks ago we went to the Busker’s Festival on Sparks Street Mall? Well, Colin and his friend Leo used to pretend to be Mounties on Hobby Horses and do a musical ride. The Government even sent them to Malaysia to represent Canada!”

“Colin was very sick for five years, but he never forgot his friends. We all decided that a boat cruise would be a good idea for a farewell party, especially Carol who took care of him, his daughter Alex who loved him very much and his neighbour Andrew. They invited us all to bring our memories and to celebrate. Carol said that you could come with us.”

“Oh, we’re nearly there! Look, we are crossing a green bridge over the Gatineau River – there is the big old stone Catholic Church and see – that’s our boat in front of it waiting at the dock.”

At 1:30pm we parked the car by the church, crossed the road to the pier steps where we were greeted by Leo dressed as a knight, sitting on his hobby horse. At the other side of the steps was Colin’s horse, without a rider. Two Canadian flags were flying from its bridle.

Already about one hundred friends were sitting at tables, enjoying a drink and hors d’hourves, laughing and chatting together. Granny and Grandpa said quick “hellos” then found a great table right at the front of the boat. Noah, perched high on a stool beside Colin’s urn and photo of him smiling at everyone, was the best seat on board. In awe he observed all happenings, and then sharing his stool with Leo they both took photographs of the river, later the Rideau Falls, Parliament, etc.

When all 220 guests arrived we cast anchor and the party really began! A delicious buffet meal was served along with a champagne toast to Colin. Next, we were entertained with medieval music played on some of the instruments that Colin had made, singing, a mini play complete with a dragon, Grandpa had everyone dancing the Farandole and a Quebec dance then Colin’s former wife and friend played guitars and sang Venezuelan lively songs. Alex and Colin’s daughters performed with their friend’s South American folk dances, while Noah, Leo, and Owen, in the front row watched in awe!

Finally, at nearly six pm Alex sang a song that she had composed for her Father. What a beautiful talented twenty year old daughter with musical talent inherited from her parents. Alex is auditioning for the Canadian Idol Talent Show. How proud Colin would be if she won!

Granny and Grandpa were very happy with the good behaviour of their boys, who even were invited by the Captain to steer the boat! Owen, Leo, and Noah sure had a day to remember.

We all had said our Goodbyes, especially to Colin, who left us his last poem:

Easy Come, Easy Go

By Colin J. Everett   

Easy come, easy go, not too fast, not too slow

Take it steady, let it flow, keep it moving, let it grow

Every day, every night, in the dark, in the light,

Are you looking, can you find, are you deaf, are you blind

To ev’ry sound, to ev’ry touch, just a little, not too much

To ev’ry step, to ev’ry fall, don’t hesitate, try it all

Never mind, never care, nothing simple, seldom fair

Just keep moving, take a chance, play your part, in the cosmic dance

So easy come, easy go, not too fast, not too slow

Take it steady, breathe in slow, do your best, life’s a show

Play your role to the end, take and give, enjoy your friends

And if you believe there’s more, could be your chance for an encore

Angela Kilby

September 2011