FINALLY: A BOOK LAUNCH!!!! Co-Author/Editor Gayle Moore-Morrans celebrated as she launched Moomor Publishings’ latest book on the Amenities Floor at FRED DOUGLAS PLACE, her seniors’ residence in Winnipeg, on September 10, 2021, almost 11 months after the book had first been published. Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, it had not been possible to have an in-person launch for the book until then. There was a good turnout of residents eager to hear about Gayle’s insights (some of them had already purchased and read the book in months past), an interview of Gayle as co-author/editor, a book signing/sale and a chance to watch a video of Ian reading a story from the book, plus a number of videos of him singing as a Scottish entertainer in years past. More book readings are being planned: A zoom presentation across all five Canadian time zones, sponsored by the Facebook Group LUTHERAN WOMEN CONNECTING on November 6th at 3 p.m. Central Time (plans are to record the presentation for later sharing online) and a live presentation for members of the ROBERT BURNS CLUB OF WINNIPEG on November 20th.
Reviews of Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad, by Ian Moore-Morrans with Gayle Moore-Morrans
From James Osborne, author of Amazon #1 bestseller, The Ultimate Threat:
“Came to Canada, Eh? is a brilliant and beautifully told story of the journey through life by a newcomer to Canada, at once both candidly disarming and brutally honest. This book is an important contribution to Canadian heritage.”
From Charles H. Cameron CD, Past President, Robert Burns Club of Winnipeg:
“Mr. Ian Moore-Morrans, in my humble opinion, reminds me so much of aPoet/Song writer in Scotland, each travelling the countryside in search of employment and happiness to better his life and that of his family. A paraphrase of Robert Burns’ poem, Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin could aptly describe Ian’s story: “Ian was a rovin’ boy, Rantin’, rovin’, rantin’, rovin’, Ian was a rovin’ boy, Rantin’, rovin’ Ian! He’ll hae misfortunes great an’ sma’, But ay a heart aboon them a’, He’ll be a credit till us a’ —We’ll a’ be proud o’ Ian.”
From Liz Olson, award-winning short story writer, occasional editor/copy editor and former editorial assistant for Canada Lutheran magazine: “Put down that celebrity bio and pick up Came to Canada, Eh? Ian is the real deal, the most relatable Everyman you will ever meet. Circumstances don’t allow for fame or fortune, despite his remarkable gifts, but nothing keeps this guy down for long. His indomitable spirit and quirky humour sustain him through a rollercoaster of adventures and tragedies, and the ride even leads him to a second chance at love at the end of the road. Don’t miss this!
From ARK on amazon.ca, 4 out of 5 stars:
“Never a Dull Moment. Ian’s experience as an immigrant to Canada with the attendant challenges of employment are possibly representative of the challenges faced by many immigrants now, and in times past. Ian’s experiences will likely resonate with immigrants especially, as well as with those who have felt like an ‘outsider’. Ian’s determination in the face of obstacles will be an inspiration to many readers. Very readable and enjoyable chronicle.”
By Amazon customer on amazon.ca: 4 out of 5 stars:
“Ian is a story teller. Reading the book I can hear Ian telling the stories and the book is full of his storied life. There is a chuckle on every page.”
From Pat, a Winnipeg reader and a fellow resident at author’s senior housing. “Dear Gayle, I did enjoy reading Ian’s book “Came To Canada, Eh?” It was a hoot! But I was again struck by his unskeptical and unsuspecting manner as I earlier evidenced in his first memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.” As I had indicated, an alternate title might have been – “Innocents Abroad.” However, when I read the Epilogue and noted that Ian had chosen ‘honesty’ as (what he thought) his most important characteristic, it somehow all fell into place! Because he was such a generous, trustworthy person, he trusted others to be as open and honest as himself. What a guy!”
From Editorial Evaluator at Friesen Press prior to publication:
“First off, I found Ian to be an incredibly strong storyteller, very direct, down-to-earth, and relatable. His writing style is straightforward and easy to read, even when “speaking” with the Scottish burr.
More importantly, he truly lived an extraordinary life. Although the individual moves and layoffs, for example, are fairly commonplace, when told en masse, in this sort of personal narrative, I found it incredibly impressive that he managed to maintain his hope and optimism. I can’t imagine that, in his shoes, I would have shown even a fraction of his determination.
Overall, he is a very sympathetic and likable character, even when occasionally coming across as a bit grouchy―and I like the fact that he actually acknowledges this likelihood.
In a personal memoir, unless one is famous, it is very important that the main “character” is compelling, likable, three-dimensional, and flawed. I never got the sense that he was painting himself as a victim or a hero. Instead, it seemed like a very honest retelling of the events that made up his Canadian experience.
I appreciated the way he retained his connection to his Scottish roots, and found it particularly interesting when he felt the need to defend England and Queen Elizabeth from his German colleagues. When combined with the various historical facts that are shared within the narrative, I found it very impressive that he was able to put his natural Scottish biases aside in order to speak to the larger picture.
The inclusion of his essay, “Destroy the Scots: A Brief History of the Peoples of the Highlands of Scotland and their Desperation in Trying to Exist,” really added a great deal of depth and gravitas to the narrative as a whole, and gave the reader a clearer insight into not only a historical period that most non-Scots are unaware of but into his character as well.
His deep roots were clearly a large part of the man he was, and influenced the way he interacted with the world around him, balking at injustice, appreciating practicality, and standing strong against anything that threatened to get in his way.
I very quickly felt like I knew him, and was enjoying following him on his various moves around the country. I also found it sort of refreshing, in an odd way, that he came across so many dishonest, unpleasant Canadians. As an editor, I have evaluated many of these sorts of stories, and in almost all of them, we Canadians are portrayed almost universally as polite, generous, kind, and so on. And on the whole, I think we are. But at times, one starts to wonder at the almost total absence of jerks. I have certainly come across plenty of those in my life, all of them born and raised in Canada. By including these negative representations, I found the story seemed somehow more real and relatable. His love of Canada, and its people are showcased as well, but in a seemingly more realistic way.
With so many changes of setting and scenery, the pace of the narrative was good, always moving forward. It also afforded him the chance to introduce many interesting people, and does an excellent job of keeping them recognizable and individual.
While his writing is generally very simple in style, he also showed a real knack for capturing a moment. For example (from his essay): “Even today, over 250 years later, one can feel an air of mourning that persists in Scotland’s Culloden Moor. No birds sing; no heather grows on the mounds of earth that cover the many mass graves.” One can almost feel the haunted stillness of the place. This is very good writing.
Lastly, the organization is very effective. Largely chronological, and interspersed with pictures, poems, song lyrics, articles, and so on, as well as the lovely eulogy and epilogue. I found the narrative flowed very organically and kept my attention right through to the end, with the elements written by you, Gayle, fitting seamlessly into the story, never detracting or distracting from the rest but actually adding greatly to it.”
The Editor’s Manuscript Evaluation written for Friesen Press before publication: “A sequel to From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, this story follows Ian Moore-Morrans’ continuing experiences in Canada, endeavouring to survive and thrive in his new country, while facing and overcoming recurring professional and financial setbacks, as various recessions lead to lay-offs and dozens of relocations around Canada―with his wife, children, and pets―in search of new opportunities. Through all the ups and down, he and his family manage to stay positive and hopeful, overcomingthe hardships, supporting each other, and always staying open to whatever life has to offer next. This story follows his personal and professional adventures through his retirement, the death of his first wife, and to his second marriage, during which he is finally able to focus his energies on singing, dancing, writing, and basically enjoying his life to its fullest until his passing in 2019.
Robert Burns Day, January 25, is an appropriate time to post this recent press release. Some of Burns’ poetry as well as the Winnipeg Burns Club feature in several of the stories therein. If you haven’t got your copy yet, it’s not too late!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[Winnipeg, MB – January 12, 2021] In this month of celebrating the birthday of Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, a new memoir by a Scotsman-turned-Canadian is being celebrated. Canada is known for being a mosaic of people who have immigrated here in search of a better life. The late Scotsman, Ian Moore-Morrans, was one such immigrant. This second and newest memoir, Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad documents his experience, after finally overcoming poverty to settle into a life of (sometimes uncertain and chaotic) middle class prosperity in Canada.
To quote a Winnipeg reviewer: Put down that celebrity bio and pick up Came to Canada, Eh? Ian is the real deal, the most relatable Everyman you will ever meet…. His indomitable spirit and quirky humour sustain him through a rollercoaster of adventures and tragedies, and the ride even leads him to a second chance at love at the end of the road. Don’t miss this!
Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad by Ian Moore-Morrans with Gayle Moore-Morrans offers the story of an ordinary, yet truly extraordinary Scotsman and his endeavours to survive and thrive as an immigrant to becoming an eventual citizen in a new country – Canada. Despite facing numerous roadblocks, Ian perseveres – with enthusiasm or sometimes impulsiveness in facing new possibilities in far-flung parts of Canada, in the humour that rarely leaves him despite setbacks and encounters with less-than-honest persons, in his willingness to share his evolving talents as a musician and writer, and in his honesty and obvious love for family and constantly changing circumstances.
The full extent of Ian’s nomadic ways is both fascinating and stunning. From 1970 to 2002, Ian and his first wife Mary moved almost annually, living multiple times in six provinces (including five times in Winnipeg) within 34 years. Ian’s story also documents the two years following the death of Mary, when he encountered Gayle, the soulmate of his later life, their whirlwind romance and marriage and their decision to continue Ian’s nomadic ways as they embarked on a new adventure to Mexico.
After Ian’s death at age 86 in 2019, Gayle as editor and co-author, was able to finish Ian’s story and offer it for publication with her insights into its central theme of honesty and independence of mind as exemplified in the immortal Robert Burns’ poem, “A Man’s A Man For A’ That.”
Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad by Ian Moore-Morrans with Gayle Moore-Morrans (a sequel to Ian’s first memoir, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada), produced by Moomor Publishing through FriesenPress, is available in print and as an eBook from most major online book retailers including Amazon and the FriesenPress Bookstore. (Paperback copies are available at a special reduced price in Winnipeg by contacting Gayle directly or in Flin Flon at Tiff’s Puppy Parlour.)
About the Author Ian Moore-Morrans, a machinist by trade, as well as a Scottish entertainer–singing and playing in bands for well over fifty years in Canada, the UK, Egypt and Mexico–and a busy husband, father and grandfather, rarely found time for writing until his early sixties. After retirement (and marrying an editor), he quickly excelled, being named one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading by THE AUTHORS SHOW in 2014. Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad is his fifth published book.
Exciting News! I’ve just begun the publishing process for Ian’s and my fifth book! Second time publishing with FriesenPress.
The next weeks and months will mean continuing on with keeping my nose to the computer and now dealing with their publishing consultant.
I’ll keep everyone apprised of the progression.
Title of the book: “Came to Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad.”
It covers Ian’s astounding adventures in the years 1970-2004, including the many moves all over Canada of Ian and his first wife, Mary, Mary’s death in 2002 and our whirlwind romance and marriage in 2003 prior to our move to Mexico in 2004.
On February 22nd it will be exactly a year since Ian passed away from a sudden stroke.
Bringing this book to fruition has helped the grief process and kept him close to me.
Here’s a photo of “traveling Ian” eagerly arriving at Glasgow Airport on a visit to the Old Country in 2000.
Author Ian Moore-Morrans died on February 22, 2019. (Reference the previous blogpost containing his obituary.) Since his daughter and her husband had left for a three-week trip to Hawaii early in the morning of the day he died, Ian’s wife, editor and sometimes co-author Gayle had a unique opportunity to prepare a script to be used for Ian’s Celebration of Life which was then scheduled to take place a month after his death on March 23, 2019.
Anyone who knew Ian during most of his life knew that he was usually eager to contribute his opinion or the last word in any conversation. He valued his God-given talents for using his voice, whether it be in conversation, song or through the written word.
Thank God, our pastor was also amenable to going along with Gayle’s plans for the memorial service, as were a number of friends who consented to participate in sharing several of Ian’s favourite hymns or in reading aloud some of Ian’s writings. Gayle likes to point out that Ian was able to help present his own eulogy in this unique way.
Though they did not speak publicly at the ceremony, Ian’s family members (daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) also contributed to the ceremony during a procession at the beginning of the service. These are all wonderful memories and keepsakes for years to come.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Sherwood Park Lutheran Church
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Note: Ian’s widow Gayle and daughters Audrey and Shirley acted as greeters and invited people to sign the guestbook. Ian’s grandsons, Ian and Calan (dressed in Ian’s kilt outfits) passed out bulletins and greeted people as they entered the sanctuary.
A slide presentation of photos from Ian’s life was shown on the screen for approximately 30 minutes prior to the service. Recorded music from the Salvation Army International Staff Band playing Goldcrest (“I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart”) followed by piano music by Church Musician Corey Francis accompanied the presentation.
Ian’s family procession, led by Pastor Erik Reedman Parker, bore items from Ian’s life and placed them on a table holding an enamelled vase of thistles and white heather at the top of the steps in the chancel. Family then seated themselves in the reserved rows, along with sons-in-law Eugene and Brien.
the wooden box urn bearing Ian’s ashes – Daughter Audrey (front center of table)
a large framed picture of Ian – Daughter Shirley (back left corner)
Ian’s Celtic wedding ring – Wife Gayle (on top of urn)
McKinnon Clan crest – Granddaughter Tammy (back right corner)
2 brass candlesticks made by Ian – Granddaughter Ainsley (on either side of urn)
Sprigs of purple heather – Great-granddaughters Caleigh, Madison, and Haylee, Granddaughter-in-law Lisa (scattered on floor in front of the table)
2 miniature stuffed dogs – Great-grandsons Logan and Brayden (at front sides of urn). (Ian loved to hold these wee dogs his last weeks in the hospital and care home, representative of the many dogs he loved over the years.)
SPLC Choir: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” was sung during the procession, accompanied on the organ. (Ian would sing this hymn almost nightly as his evening prayer during the last years of his life.) (Based on Psalm 23, from the Scottish Psalter, 1650, tune: Crimond.)
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want. He makes me down to lie in pastures green; He leadeth me the quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again; and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, e’en for His own Name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale, Yet will I fear none ill; for Thou art with me; and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.
My table Thou hast furnishèd in presence of my foes; My head Thou dost with oil anoint, And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life Shall surely follow me; And in God’s house forevermore, My dwelling place shall be.
Greeting, Welcome & Prayer of the Day– Pastor Erik Parker
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. C: And also with you.
Let us pray. Almighty God, source of all mercy and giver of comfort, graciously tend those who mourn, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. C: Amen.
Remembrance of Ian – (Gayle, assisted by Donna and Don Engel)
Gayle Moore-Morrans: Because I’ve lived the adventure of being Ian’s wife and editor for the last 15 plus years, I feel eminently qualified to share my perspective on his personality. I’m the one responsible for the “Moore” portion of our family name. I’m also the author of the lengthy eulogy you have in your bulletins. Don’t worry; I am not about to read that eulogy aloud. However, I have written a Remembrance of Ian that I wanted to share with you today. I know that I’ll be too emotional to deliver it so I’ve asked our good friends, Donna and Don Engel, to assist me. I thank them for their friendship over the years and for the care they both gave Ian and me while he was hospitalized. I also thank in advance those other friends who will be sharing Ian’s music and unique written voice with us. Ian’s family and I appreciate your friendship and support. God bless.
Donna Engel reads: These are Gayle’s words:
“Ian was a man of many talents who had a great capacity to love. He was full of curiosity about many things, outgoing and friendly and always interested in finding out what made other people tick. Rarely at a loss for words, he loved to share his opinion, no matter whether others wanted to hear it or not. He had a rough beginning in life, which could have made him bitter. It just made him determined to try to make life better, however and wherever he could. He was also a man of great contradictions: at times religious and then not religious; brought up in a non-emotional, non-expressive family but readily able to express and show his love and caring as a husband and father; capable of performing quality dedicated work at whatever job he could find, but even happier when he could be on the move, learning new things, having new experiences and meeting new people. He sometimes lost his temper with those he loved, but always apologized later for causing them distress. He could build anything, repair anything and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Most of all, though, Ian was a ‘voice’ and a ‘presence.’
“His voice was what most attracted Gayle to him when they met at Grace Café on north Henderson Highway one Monday evening in June of 2003. She had walked into the café to find it practically empty except for what she describes as a “wee, balding, ruddy-faced 71-year-old man who was ‘holding court’ with the waitress”. The waitress seemed as intrigued as Gayle with Ian’s melodic Scottish accent and the charming blarney that was coming out of his mouth. He introduced himself, asked if Gayle were alone and then invited her to take a seat at his table. After discovering that they were both writers and shared lots of other interests, they hardly stopped talking and, within a week, they had decided they wanted to be together always. And Gayle hadn’t even heard him sing yet! She soon found his musical talents enthralling, as well as the charisma and humour he imparted when he was performing. She had been brought up in a musical family and hearing Ian sing intrigued her all the more. Later in this service you’ll be able to hear Ian sing, as there are video recordings of some of his performances in past years.
“In conclusion, Gayle would like us to share Ian’s favourite poem which, again, points to some of his contradictions. Desiderata is a prose poem by Max Ehrmann. Now, Ian normally claimed that a poem wasn’t authentic unless it rhymed and then he turned around and chose a poem that doesn’t rhyme as his favourite. (Go figure!) The word “Desiderata” means “things wanted or needed.” The poem is a concise but truly inspiring reminder that one should strive for high ideals. It reminds us to treat others kindly, to accept who they are and to be gentle with ourselves. It motivates us to have faith in ourselves and to develop trust in the way our circumstances unfold. Gayle could understand how this poem would resonate with Ian, except for the fact that several of the ideals that the author points out include words like ‘quiet,’ ‘silence’ and ‘placid,’ concepts that Ian wasn’t really able to grasp until the last years of his life when he was very ill. The rest of the poem certainly is a fitting summary of the ideals for which Ian strove to live out his life.”
Don Engel reads:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Rest in peace, dear Ian.
A Reading from Colossians 3:12-17 – Pastor Erik
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Reading and Solo “The Old Rugged Cross” – Bill Johnston
A reading from Ian’s Memoir: From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. (This story happened in Ian’s teens when he was active in Campbeltown’s Salvation Army congregation.)
“Shortly after the Saturday evening meeting started, I would be asked to go to the local pubs to sell The War Cry, a Salvation Army newspaper. This was done without fail every Saturday night, but usually by different people on a rotating basis. Anyway, this one night, I went my rounds and, as luck would have it, I seemed to meet with a lot of drunken men. Now, it was my own belief that it was wrong to sell a paper to a drunken person. So what I would do was to fold it up, put it in his pocket in the hope that he would read it the next morning when he was sober and start to lead a Christian life.
“Needless to say, with meeting so many drunks that night, the money box was a little on the light side and all the papers were gone. When I returned to the hall, the Captain opened the box and only a few coppers fell out. She turned to me and asked where the rest of the money was. I told her that I had met a lot of drunks and had put the paper in their pockets. She wouldn’t accept this and insinuated that I had pocketed the money. So that was me, quitting again! A few weeks later she was at my door and apologized. I went back, but this time I didn’t have to hit the mercy seat!
“There was one rather peculiar situation that occurred when it was my turn to go around to one certain pub on Shore Street. In this pub there was always one certain large man who would put a hand on either side of my waist and pick me up, lifting me onto a table. (Not a difficult move for him, as I barely reached 5 feet 5.) Then he’d take The War Cry papers and the collection box from me, and order me to sing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’—all three verses. (There are actually four verses, but one is seldom sung.) Meanwhile, he would go around to all the people in the pub with the papers and the moneybox, distributing and collecting. It’s no wonder today that I still remember all of the words to those three verses by heart, fifty plus years later!”
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
Reflections and Readings: Tom Lurvey, Kolleen Karlowsky-Clark
Tom Lurvey: I was a pastor for twenty years, now retired, here at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church. I’m privileged to have gotten to know Ian over the years as his pastor and as a friend.
I remember very well the first time I met him. One Sunday morning Gayle showed up with a man on her arm. They sat together there on the left, on the aisle about halfway back. After worship he came up to me—a man small of stature but, I learned, large in personality and heart—and greeted me with the words, “Pastor, that was a bonnie wee sermon you had today.”
Some time later I learned that Ian wanted to be baptized. In the Christian tradition in which he grew up, the Salvation Army, they didn’t practice baptism. Ian being Ian, planning for that baptism took some discussion and negotiation. The main stipulation was that he didn’t want to be baptized with water just being sprinkled or poured on his head. Rather, he wanted to be dunked right under the water. Well, that was great with me: I’d always wanted to do a baptism like that.
When the day came, we gathered at Bird’s Hill Lake. I remember it as a chilly day. Ian and I were clad in swimsuits and t-shirts. He and I waded into what felt like frigid water till we were just past waist-deep. Then I said, “Ian, I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and I dunked him under. Ian came up spitting and, as fast as we could, we pushed our way back to shore where Gayle waited for us with some warm, fluffy towels.
That day, God told Ian in a very concrete way, “Ian, I love you. I have called you by name and you are mine.”
Today, as we remember Ian and thank God for his life and all that he’s meant to us, I want to remind you all about how much Ian means to God. God loves him. And even as God has guided Ian and walked with him all through a remarkable life, so God continues to hold onto him right now and forever. Thanks be to God.
Kolleen Karlowsky-Clarke: (A friend of Ian and Gayle’s and former intern and later interim pastor at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, who offered the prayers at Ian and Gayle’s wedding.) Tom and I will share portions of a 2013 interview of Ian on The Author’s Show, an internationally acclaimed online radio book marketing show. The interview was about his first memoir: From Poverty to Poverty. I will read the part of the interviewer and Tom will represent Ian’s answers as they were given. In a way, one could say that Ian is acting here as his own eulogizer.
Q. Is there a central message in your book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada?
A. Yes, I think so. I’ve found that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty but, in order to do so, one has to have a lot of grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humour to get through it all.
Q. For readers of your book who have not experienced poverty in their lives, what one word do you think they would choose to describe your book?
A. Even though my first thought was “horrendous,” my present wife who is also my editor said, “eye-opening.” That’s the word she used after she first read my story before we were married almost 10 years ago. She was not brought up in poverty and was astonished and taken aback by all that I had experienced.
Q. You claim this book is an autobiography.Are all the stories in it true and all the characters taken from real life?
A. Yes, all of the stories are true. They, of course, are filtered through my own eyes and my own experiences so another person may interpret happenings from a different perspective. In certain instances, I’ve chosen to change the names of people because I felt it necessary to protect their identity or maintain their privacy. One prime example is the character I’ve chosen to call “Jock Campbel.” When I was a wee lad and our financial situation at home was even more dire than usual, my mother would occasionally ask me to go to that man and ask him to lend her ten shillings. This was about a dollar and a half, but it had a lot more buying power then than now. But before I would go she always cautioned me to wait until he was on his own. There never was any hesitation from him. Out would come his wallet and a ten-shilling note would be handed to me. As far as I know, my brother was never sent on a similar mission and I never thought to discuss it with him or even ask Mother why. That man was an upstanding member of the community and a married man with children. I never thought much about this strange mission until years later when some things my mother said about the man led me to wonder whether he could have been the man who sired me.
Q. You describe your early family life as rather dysfunctional with no one showing affection to the others. How has this affected your adult role as husband and father?
A. I know my mother and grandmother cared very much for both my brother and me.We lived on welfare and Mother worked at degrading odd jobs on the sly to get a wee bit extra. She also put ourhunger ahead of herswhen there was little food to share. But none of us showed or spoke of any affection or caring toward the others. Perhaps Mother and Granny had never been shown affection and didn’t know how to do so. And if they didn’t know how, my brother and I didn’t have a chance to learn by example. I don’t know where I learned it, maybe showing affection was something that just was innate in me and eventually came out when I had my own wife and children. As an adult I’ve made special efforts to tell my family members that I love and honour them and have always been ready and willing to take care of and help them to the best of my ability.
Q. What role did your membership in the Salvation Army play in your early life?
A. It taught me how to live a respectable and God-fearing life. It gave me a place where I knew I belonged, was respected and valued (although I rebelled off and on at a lot of restrictions it placed on my choices of entertainment). Most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to learn to sing and play several instruments. Because of that I can truly say that my real avocation in life is music making.
Q. What was the greatest single decision in your life that started to lift you out of a life of poverty and how did it do so?
A. That would be quitting my apprenticeship to a drunken, cruel blacksmith and enlisting in the Royal Air Force. Overnight I had three decent meals a day, a decent-paying job, a bed with sheets on it, all the decent clothing I needed and future prospects through career training. Plus that, I could continue to play in a band and had money left over to send home to my mother to help her out a wee bit.
A. I understand you use humour in your writing.How does this connect with the tragic circumstances of poverty?
A. Poverty is bad enough. If you can find anything humorous in whatever day-to-day happenings you encounter, then you should celebrate those things. Laughter can elevate you from the depressed hole of poverty – at least a wee bit. If you really look, there are comical aspects to a lot of things, even those that are essentially negative.
Q. What is your favourite humorous story in your book?
A. Soon after we immigrated to Canada, my wife Mary and I were at a dance in Toronto. A group of us were standing and chatting at the edge of the dance floor when I announced that I was going to the bar for a drink. When I returned, a young, good-looking woman put her arm through mine and I understood her to say, “I like the way you roll your arse!” I hesitated a little and looked down at one buttock and then the other, wondering what it was I did with my “arse” that got her attention. It wasn’t until I thoroughly thought about it that I realized that she was saying that she liked the way I rolled my “RRRRs!” I guess she enjoyed the Scottish accent. Boy, what a relief!
Q. You claim that musicianship is integral to your life. How is that reflected in your book?
A. When my wife/editor first read my story, she was struck by how much music was woven into the narrative. She encouraged me to expand on those instances, leading me to quote from songs or to fill out descriptions of the song connections with my own story. For instance, when I am describing my hometown Campbeltown, I mentioned the folk-song made most popular in the ‘60s by Scottish folk-singer Andy Stewart: “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky.”
I eventually wrote the following: “As we were growing up, three or four of us boys would go arm in arm down the street singing the first few words—‘Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky. I would drink ye dry!’
“The song imagines how nice it would be if the loch were full up to the brim with whisky and you could anchor a boat in the whisky-filled bay to go in for a nip and a dip ‘by night and by day.’ Clan gatherings would feature wading into the loch with toasts of ‘slainte bva’ (meaning ‘good health’). The only problem would be the police showing up in a launch and shouting, ‘Time, Gentlemen, please!’”
Q. Your book is permeated with “Scottishness.” Why would someone who has no Scottish connection want to read this book?
A. Lots of people like to read biographies or hear stories of other people’s personal experiences, especially if they are out of the ordinary. It also seems to me that a lot of non-Scots show a curiosity about and interest in Scottish things like tartans, kilts (or what is or isn’t worn under them!), bagpipers, Robbie Burns’ suppers, Scottish parties called “caleidhs”, Highland games and the like. I hope they’d enjoy a first-hand account of one Scot’s unique experiences. We Scots are known as folksy and sometimes blunt people who put our own colourful slant to our language. I attempt to reflect that in my writing.
A Reading from Revelation 21:1-7,22-27 – Pastor Erik
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. …
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.…
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Reading and Solo – “The Holy City” – Darryl Pokrant
A reading from Ian’s not-yet-published Came to Canada, Eh? Memoirs of a Scottish Nomad. (The story finds Ian in 1997, recently retired and moved from Winnipeg to Flin Flon.)
“I found Flin Flon a great little place. I met more people and made more friends in the short time I was there than I ever made in any other place I’ve lived in Canada. [I had joined the 120-voice Community Choir and was delighted that we had a successful presentation of Handel’s Messiah, first in Snow Lake and then in Flin Flon.] …
“Our choir also performed and was well received at the Cathedral in The Pas a little after the New Year. I was asked to sing a solo in the service immediately before the Messiah was to be performed, and although I’m not Roman Catholic, I said that I would be honoured. (I was delighted to think that I was considered good enough to do so!)
“The Holy City” was my choice–my old standby from way back when I first sang it as a young boy in Campbeltown’s Salvation Army worship service [and then later when I was in the Royal Air Force and stationed near Cardiff, Wales, I was thrilled to sing it in a concert in Abertillery in the Rhonda Valley. I considered that quite an undertaking, because Wales is the “land of song.” For a Scotsman to be asked to sing a solo; well, that could be seen as maybe a wee bit presumptuous. It seemed that I “knocked them dead,” as the saying goes. Maybe they were just being nice, giving me an “E” for Effort, I don’t really know; but the applause seemed very genuine. I’m a tenor, and the top note was a healthy “G” which I was able to achieve with no trouble at all.]
“The song is a bit operatic and I fancy myself emulating the great Scottish singer, Kenneth McKellar, who was famous for that piece. I always get a rush of joy as it paints a majestic picture based on Revelation 21 of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
Solo: “The Holy City”, Darryl Pokrant, piano accompaniment by Corey Francis. (Lyrics by Frederick E. Weatherly, Music by Michael Maybrick, writing as Stephen Adams)
Last night I lay a-sleeping, there came a dream so fair, I stood in old Jerusalem beside the temple there. I heard the children singing, and ever as they sang Methought the voice of angels from heaven in answer rang, Methought the voice of angels from heaven in answer rang, Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing, Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to your King!
And then methought my dream was changed, the streets no longer rang. Hushed were the glad Hosannas the little children sang. The sun grew dark with mystery, the morn was cold and chill, As the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill, As the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Hark! How the angels sing, Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to your King!
And once again the scene was changed, new earth there seemed to be. I saw the Holy City beside the tideless sea. The light of God was on its streets, the gates were open wide, And all who would might enter, and no one was denied. No need of moon or stars by night, or sun to shine by day; It was the new Jerusalem that would not pass away, It was the new Jerusalem that would not pass away. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Sing for the night is o’er! Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna forevermore! Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna forevermore!
Prayers of Intercession & Commendation – Pastor Erik
Let us pray. Almighty God, in holy baptism you have knit your chosen people together into one communion of saints in the body of Christ. Give to your whole church in heaven and on earth your light and your peace. God of mercy, C. hear our prayer.
Give courage and faith to all who mourn, and a sure and certain hope in your loving care, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may have strength for the days ahead. God of mercy, C. hear our prayer.
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that, where this world groans in grief and pain, your Holy Spirit may lead us to bear witness to your light and life. God of mercy, C. hear our prayer.
Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting. God of mercy, C. hear our prayer.
God of all grace, we give you thanks because by his death our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed the power of death and by his resurrection he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Make us certain that because he lives we shall live also, and that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, will be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. C: Amen.
Lord’s Prayer; Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us: C: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
Commendation. (Pastor Erik places his hands on the urn.) Let us commend Ian to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Ian. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. C. Amen.
Video Presentation of Ian entertaining
1998 – Selections from the musical Brigadoon, including Ian singing “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” – Community Production: “Flin Flon Remembers,” Flin Flon, Manitoba;
2003 – Scenes from Ian & Gayle’s Wedding at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba, including Ian singing Robbie Burns’ “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” at the church reception and of Ian speaking at the evening reception/smörgåsbord at Winnipeg’s Scandinavian Centre;
2005 – Ian participating in Scottish Country Dancing during a Robbie Burns’ supper Ian hosted at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Riberas del Pilar, Mexico;
2007 – Ian and Gayle entertaining at New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) Party, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Penticton, British Columbia, singing “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky,” “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers” and “Auld Lang Syne”;
2008 – Okanagan’s Mr. Scotland and His Bonnie Lassie entertaining at the Kelvern Celtic Society’s Caleidh in Vernon, British Columbia; singing “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen,” “Misty Islands o’ the Highlands” and “The Song of the Clyde”;
2006 – Ian recording “Scotland, the Brave” at a recording studio near Chapala, Mexico;
2018 – Photos of Ian and Gayle at home in Winnipeg on their 15th Wedding Anniversary with a recording of Ian singing “Come In, Come In, It’s Nice T’ See Ye.”
Congregational Hymn:“Amazing Grace” (words projected on the screen), accompanied by recorded bagpipes plus organ (Corey Francis) and trumpet (Janet Giese).
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.
Grace & Blessing– Pastor Erik
God of all mercy and grace, the eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. We give you thanks for your servant Ian, bless our conversation and fellowship, as we remember him and give you thanks. C. Amen.
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do God’s will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in God’s sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. C. Amen.
The old saying goes: Laughter is the best medicine. In addition, sometimes the strangest things can help one make, or accept, important, even life-altering, decisions. So we found out a few weeks ago. As a result, a new expression has become significant in our lives.
First a bit of back-story. I (Gayle) grew up in an American-English speaking environment. To me the term “get stuffed” meant that one was preparing to overeat. Only after moving to Canada in my forties did I learn that “get stuffed” is a British colloquialism meaning, in the politer sense, “go away” or “get lost” or, in the cruder sense, “piss off” or worse. I became aware of the term while enjoying the satirical rants of Scotsman Jock McBile of CBC TV’s Royal Air Farce fame. Jock McBile, one of the most beloved alter egos of the late comedian John Morgan, was a mutton-chopped, kilt-and-sporran-clad curmudgeon, leaning on a cromach and using a thick burr to sarcastically and comically comment on current political and cultural happenings. His frequent climax to any dismissal of the antics of those whose actions met his disapproval was to tell them to “get stuffed!” as he marched off stage, menacingly brandishing his cromach. After marrying my own feisty Scotsman some 14 years ago, there were times when I wondered if Jock McBile’s cousin had come to live with me!
Now, what in the world does that have to do with me making or accepting life-altering decisions? If you have followed my blog, you will know that I started it to publicize the writings of my Scottish-born husband Ian and the books that he and I have produced over the past years. Recently, progress on future publications has slowed as Ian’s health has deteriorated. I’m struggling to continue with editing future books since care giving is taking up most of my time. As things settle down a bit with the provincial palliative care that has recently begun, I’m looking forward to finding more time to get back to editing our next book, Came to Canada, Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story and, hopefully, progressing to other of our unpublished writings. But first, let me relate our most recent adventure.
Ian had a check-up with his GP to assess if his breathing distress (that had increased after his inoperable rectal cancer diagnosis in September) was being helped by a month’s dosage of morphine and whether it was time to curtail some of the other medications he has taken for other serious long-term medical problems like heart disease, a history of small strokes, peripheral neuropathy, GERD, hypertension and dementia. As the cancer would eventually be terminal, did he need to keep on all the other medications to prevent serious complications from other diseases? In other words, has all the medication become overkill? Ian is content to leave these decisions to me. (A daunting task indeed.) However, I already have lost my late husband to early onset Alzheimer disease and multiple small strokes, so have a bit of perspective to aid me. At the moment I’d prefer Ian not have a stroke that could cause paralysis so I could no longer care for him at home with palliative care until or near the end (which we would both prefer). So we opted for him to stay on Warfarin to aid in preventing a stroke, even though it adds to the bleeding from the incurable rectal cancer.
Next it was time for the clinic’s nurse to administer an annual cognitive test to decide whether Ian should keep on the dementia-slowing drug that he has been on for the last three years. His memory continues to worsen but the regression has slowed on the medication – a luxury that my late husband didn’t have as the drug wasn’t yet on the market when he needed it. Our nurse started the familiar test and I could see that Ian’s awareness of time had deteriorated since last year – “What year is it?” (“Well, it’s later than 1932.” – Smart Aleck – that is his birth year!) “Do you know what month we are in?” – (“Spring?” – hardly!) He could follow sequential verbal directions to take a piece of paper, fold it and place it on the ground, but only remembered one of the three words he had been given and then later asked to recall. “Truck,” readily came to mind but he had no recollection of “velvet” and “church” which he had repeated multiple times just minutes before. He correctly answered a few questions involving numbers and did not do too poorly in copying two geometric figures on a second paper. Then came the last assignment: “Write down a sentence, please.” I smiled thinking of what Ian had written last year. “I love my wife.” This time he readily jotted down a two-word sentence, handing it to the nurse with a smirk. She let out a hoot when she read: “Get stuffed!” There was a twinkle in his eye, though, so we saw it as a touch of sarcastic humour and not a nasty protest at the process.
Ian’s score was only a point below last year’s so I thought he should keep on the drug rather than taking a chance of his memory and abilities getting worse at a faster rate, even though this could also add to his bleeding. The medical staff thought differently, though, and recommended a trial period of 10 days off the drug to see if its absence made a difference. Those 10 days did not go well, however, as Ian had a growing number of disturbing hallucinations and worsening memory. As I still had about a month’s worth of the medication on hand, I started him back on it and will be monitoring him before we see the doctor again to assess whether to continue it. After only a few days, I’m encouraged that the hallucinations have lessened, though I’m not sure about the memory.
As irascible as he gets at times, I’d like to keep my old sassy Scotsman around awhile longer if possible. I’ve also started to tell him to “get stuffed” a few times when he gets carried away. That usually brings a chuckle, followed by a cuddle, which helps to alleviate the grumbling. Here Ian is a few years ago, all decked out to sing at the Okanagan Military Tattoo when he was still able to walk with the help of a cane (instead of a cromach).
Ian summed up his “get stuffed” afternoon with: “If you have a choice, it’s better to laugh than to cry.” The day following his medical exams he was so exhausted after our outing that he hardly got out of bed. At least it gave me some time to do some creative writing and fuel another blog post.
As difficult as care giving is, I’m determined to help Ian in these last years (or months) to make life as positive as possible and try to keep myself healthy and productive at the same time. Thank God for palliative care that offers growing support, as it becomes needed, and for the love and concern of family and friends.
What encouragement old friends can bring, even those who live far away. A recent letter came from Friedemann, a dear friend from my days living in Germany in the 1960s and ‘70s. He had recently lost his wife, Maria (another beloved friend) to cancer and was writing to comfort me after hearing of Ian’s cancer diagnosis. His profound words bear repeating:
“I am really grateful to you for keeping in touch with me and now with the follow-up news on Ian’s health crisis which will no doubt continue to occupy you both. I was sorry to hear that surgery is no safe option for Ian and do hope and pray that he remains without pain and comfortable and that you can both continue to live your interesting lives together.
“I seem to detect a note of optimism in your account–but then you always had what is basically a positive attitude to life, and although I have never met Ian, from your letters I have the impression that he is a person who prefers to see the bright side of life, too–a very healthy attitude (that I sometimes wish I had more of). Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Maria and you always got along so well, way back in the Heidelberg days. You both might have had good reasons for complaint in your lives, but you always managed to see the silver lining: a result of being embedded in your faith?
“Anyway, I do hope you can both find something to look forward to and enjoy each day. I often think of the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, i.e. give us today what we need just for today (and tomorrow we will ask again).
“A month or so before Maria died she wrote an article for a magazine in which she quoted a poem by a German cabaret artist, writer, author of children’s stories and actor who died in 2005, Hans Dieter Hüsch. The poem apparently appealed to her way of thinking–I imagine also to yours and Ian’s—(In German–which you presumably still read? ):
PsalmIch bin vergnügt, erlöst, befreit.Gott nahm in seine Hände meine Zeit,mein Fühlen, Denken, Hören, Sagen,mein Triumphieren und Verzagen,das Elend und die Zärtlichkeit.Was macht, dass ich so fröhlich binim meinem kleinen Reich?Ich sing und tanze her und hinvom Kindbett bis zur Leich.Was macht dass ich so furchtlos binan vielen dunklen Tagen?Es kommt ein Geist in meinen Sinn,will mich durchs Leben tragen.Was macht, dass ich so unbeschwertund mich kein Trübsinn hält?Weil mich mein Gott das Lachen lehrtwohl über alle Welt.Hanns Dieter Hüsch
“In English (roughly!):
I’m cheerful, redeemed, set free.
God took my time in his hands,
my feeling, thinking, hearing, speaking,
my triumphs and despondencies,
the anguish and the tenderness.
How come that I’m so cheerful
in my own small domain?
I sing and dance to and fro
from the cradle to the grave.
How come that I’m so fearless
on many gloomy days?
A spirit comes into my mind
that seeks to carry me through life.
How come I’m so light-hearted
and no gloom has hold on me?
Because God teaches me to laugh
at the whole world no doubt.
“So I hope God continues to give you both your daily bread and brighten your life for as long as God sees fit.
“Cheers and the very best of wishes.
(nicer in Latin: Pax et gaudium–et fortitudo = peace and joy–and strength!)”