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Tom Swift Remembered

September 9th, tomorrow, is the 6th anniversary of my father's death, from a blood-clot in hospital, while recovering from surgery on his brain for cancer.  He was a kind, gentle, witty man, very shy, insecure, nervous.  But he was proud of his rise from a working-class Irish-Canadian background to become the youngest director of admissions at a North American university, in the late 60s, after leaving behind a promising music career as a recording artist with Decca and London records.  He did an excellent job at Sir George Williams, later Concordia, university.  He put students first.  He had a great voice, loved to sing, play baseball, swim, and was good with animals.  He was very loyal to his friends, compassionate with students, and protective of his family.  Sadly, he suffered from anxiety and depression, which he tried to deal with by drinking too much.  However, after a difficult period in his Forties, and after a mild stroke, he sorted out his demons, and was happily retired, for a few years, when the cancer struck at age 64.  By 66 he was dead.  His funeral  was a large event, with hundreds of former students, employees, colleagues, and friends, converging on the tiny quaint Protestant Church in St-Lambert where he had been married, almost exactly 40 years before.  His illness was painful, slow, humiliating, and he faced it bravely, and head on, enduring several trying and innovative surgical interventions, having to relearn to speak after the first operation.  Life is cruel.  My father was kind.  He is survived by his brother Graham, his wife, Margaret, and his two sons, Jordan and Todd, and their families.
Tom Swift, with my mother, Margaret, at my wedding, June 6, 2003, Co. Louth, Ireland

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Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand