Several noteworthy deaths last week, including my cousin, two celebrity suicides, and two Manitobans who made a difference. Roland Penner, whose father was a communist and elected Winnipeg Alderman was originally from Gretna, Manitoba. His father and brother left the Communist party when they learned about Stalin’s atrocities.

Roland Penner was an elected member of the New Democratic Party from 1981 to 1988, serving as Speaker of the House, Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Attorney General, and Minister of Education during those years. He was also head of Legal Aid,  and is known for his support of LGBT issues and taught Law at the University of Manitoba.

The second is  William John Rhoda who died at the age of 97 June 4th. Born in South Africa, he went to South Africa’s only University for black people, and worked in the resistance to end apartheid, with participation in the student walkouts just one of his commitments. The government of the day made him a target for their Special Branch. He was able to get an exit (really exile) visa for himself and his family, settling in Winnipeg teaching at Andrew Mynarski School. When he returned to South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid, for the first time thirty years later, his former students and colleagues met him at the airport to express their thanks. My parents and siblings were teachers, one of my sons now as well.
I know how much it means to a teacher to be thanked by a student (long) after graduation.

My cousin    Abe Neufeld bought his first computer when he turned ninety. He like my father, sometimes he asked “Why am I here.” For all the black clad existentialists mulling this over before they turn 26, imagine raising the same questions 70 years later. My Dad died when he was 91, his sister and Abe when they were 94. A history of long livers not really a plus when you wake to pain everyday, and know you will never have a pain-free day ever again                                                     

I’ve had visitors in the last couple of weeks, and we all wondered whether it is possible to find “a reason to live and not to die, you are a lucky (hu)man,” (Alan Price) every day? A couple of times a week? I was the only person under seventy. It’s when I have such a hard day’s night, and even more on waking, that I wonder why I keep pressing. Currently I’m messing around with the idea that desire is what keeps me writing. Maybe that’s what Sisyphus is rolling up the hill. I’m at my limit for tonight so I won’t add any text about the suicides last week.








Bourdain and Spade decided, or so we hope, that seven decades, of even five decades were enough.

This entry was posted in Music for Men Over Fifty: Poems of Love and Surgery, pain room blogish, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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