Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bye Dad...

Me and my father-in-law George, Christmas 2007

I'm home after an absolutely crazy week in Toronto. We had a beautiful service for Gordon's Dad, complete with harpist, at the historic chapel of St. James the Less in Toronto. It is listed as a national historic site. The minister was Rev. Dr. Malcolm Sinclair, whom I have to say is the most eloquent, well-spoken religious official I have ever met in my entire life. And on top of that, he's a beautiful singer, and sang at the service. He even wore a kilt, and we'll forgive him for being a Sinclair and not a Campbell, because he did such a wonderful job. I can't believe how we lucked out finding him.

The harpist, Patricia Johnston, was amazing and the acoustics in that chapel were so well-suited to her exquisite playing. I just ordered all three of her CDs! :)

Gordon and his Dad, Christmas 2009

Dad lived a good life, and I am happy we were able to send him out with such a beautiful celebration of his 83 years on earth. Gordon and I both did the eulogies and I would like to post mine here later, although at 1500 or so words, it is quite long!

Dad became ill last Wednesday and was taken to hospital in an ambulance. They initially thought it was a kidney stone, as the pain was in his abdominal area. Mom left him overnight at the hospital, and when she got back Thursday morning, she was expecting to take him home. Instead, she discovered that he had been rushed to surgery. He managed to pull through, after five hours of arterial repair, but soon declined. I set a land-speed record for getting packed, getting the pets all looked after by our friends and neighbours, and driving Gordon to Toronto in 4-1/2 hours instead of my usual five or more. We got to the hospital at 11:30 pm Thursday, and we were there when Dad passed at around 1:18 am Friday (I looked at the clock.) So while he never regained consciousness after the surgery, I am very glad that I got Gordon there in time to say good-bye.

Go give your loved ones a hug and a kiss. You just never know what might happen!

And your true friends do amazing things for you when there's a sad event like this. Our friends Greg and Kevin made us the most extraordinary brunch on Sunday, pictures of which I will have to post later! And our dear friend Brian flew in from New York City to be there for us. We didn't know he was coming, so of course we both cried when we walked out into the chapel and saw him there. And my friend Beth attended as well, wearing a lovely plaid coat that was much admired by the Scots in the crowd! Thank you so much Greg and Brian, because I know you'll read this. You are two amazing examples of what a friend should be.

Here's the obituary we put in the paper...


George McKenzie Campbell

CAMPBELL, George McKenzie - Soccer star, RAF Veteran, transport executive, loving husband of almost 60 years to Catherine, doting father and father-in-law to Gordon and Natalie, loyal brother to Alex, Duncan and the late Effie and Ian. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1927, he treasured his ties to the highlands of Tighnabruaich and Luing. He and Cathie arrived in Canada in 1956 on the immigrant ship Castel Felice. For many years he served as Director of Claims and Safety with CP Express and Transport. The soccer pitch was his first athletic love, the golf course his second, followed closely by watching just about any sport short of tractor pulls. His humour was renowned, as was his tenacity in fighting for the little guy, right up until his last day. Many thanks to Dr. Forrest, Dr. Shin and the entire ICU staff at North York General for their dedication. On December 7, 2010, a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. at the Chapel of St. James-the-Less National Historic Site, 635 Parliament St., Toronto. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Right to Play ( or the charity of your choice. 1-877-229-7077


  1. George sounded like a lovely man. Afterall, he was one half who created Gordon, so of course he was lovely. Nice post. My thoughts are with you guys at this difficult time.

  2. Such a nice post. I'm glad Gordon got there in time to say good bye. Serendipitous huh?

    Thanks for the reminder to hold your loved ones tight.

  3. Anonymous1:41 pm

    What a nice tribute, Natalie. Hugs to you and Gordon.

  4. What a lovely man. I like his smiley eyes! I'm so sorry that he has passed on. Many hugs and goat kisses.

  5. Anonymous3:12 pm

    This makes me so sad... :( Nige's dad, also a George, is 90. We have to really appreciate them while they're here...well, for that matter we need to appreciate everyone who's important to us because it's all just over too soon.

    I hope his mom is doing OK... (I never knew her name until now!).

    hugs to you both.

  6. Natalie, your words are so thoughtful and appropriate, as always.

  7. What a very nice post. Like you, I was touched by all my friends that came to the service for me. None of my relatives made it, it was just all my wonderful friends.

    Here's to Gordon's dad.

  8. A superb tribute to a fine man Knatolee, My thoughts are with you and Gordon

  9. Even though Gordon's father never regained consciousness, I believe that he knew his son and daughter-in-law were with him during his final moments here. I can only convey my condolences once again as you go through this loss. Your post is eloquent and I'm sure yours and Gordon's eulogies were beautiful tributes to a wonderful man.

  10. He sounds such a colourful person. I love the fact that you've asked people to donate to charities instead of flowers. We Buddhists believe that good karma can be passed on to a deceased loved one through good deeds we do in his name. We also believe that if he is in a place from where he needs to move on, these karma or we cal it 'merit' will help them. So keep doing good deeds in his name Natalie.

  11. Thank you Ronna! He was a classy man with a good sense of humour and a warm heart. :)

    Karen, I think we would have always felt bad if we hadn't gotten Gordon to the hospital on time. I am so relieved!

    Thanks TTPT. We need all the hugs we can get!

    Isobelle, he was a man who liked animals and I'm sure he would have found you to be quite a beautiful goat! I wish he could have met you. :)

    Dr. Sloth, when they get up into this age range, you know it's going to stop sometime but of course that makes it no easier I hope Nige's Dad goes well into his 100s!

    Thank you Fran! We tried to do George proud with our eulogies.

    Steph, it's amazing how people show their true colours when someone dies! Really separates the wheat from the chaff.

    Thank you Jams, we appreciate it.

    Thank you Paula. On the drive to Toronto, I told Gordon what to expect (I had been through it with both of my own parents.) I also told him how important it was for him to speak to his Dad and tell him whatever he needed to, because his Dad would still hear him. I do believe the dying can hear you. And to tell him that he loved him and it was okay for him to go, also so important.

  12. Hoot-a-toot, thank you! It's funny: Dad was nominally Christian, but he firmly believed in reincarnation! So perhaps he had a little bit of the Buddhist in him.:) I don't know about Sri Lanka but here it has become more common to ask for donations in lieu of flowers, and I like it. Someone always sends you some flowers anyway, and we did get some flowers to put in the chapel.

    The other thing is that my mother-in-law had never heard of Right to Play, but the day before the funeral, she heard the founder being interviewed on the radio!

  13. Oh Nat, this is such sad news. I'm so sorry. It seems like so many sad things happen right around the holidays. I remember when my mother had open heart surgery on Christmas eve. My father always was ill around Christmas, too. I don't know why it's like that.

    Thanks for the reminder for us to appreciate our loved ones. It's easy to take people for granted.

    Hugs and love sent your way from Maryland.

  14. Thank you Lynn! :) Someone recently told me that men tend to die right before holidays, so as not to disrupt them, while women tend to die right after, so as not to screw up the holiday. Or something like that. My Dad died five days before his birthday!

    Hope to meet you in Maryland sometime, Lynn. Maybe we can have a dinner with Genny!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!