A Death in Mayo

by Michael McGinnis

The most difficult events in life can cause a lot of pain, but can also give much insight and appreciation for life. Death is a topic we tend to avoid, but it also has much to teach us, if we look past the emotional reactions of fear and grief, and allow the enduring messages of love to touch our hearts. I would like to share some of the thoughts I have had following the death of Wilf Gordon.

I believe that we are responsible for how our lives turn out, and that the power of love can take charge to make a death into a powerful moment of the truth of how a man has lived, and into a statement of compassion for those who are dear to him. This is what I saw in the story of Wilf's death.

Wilf had always been an outdoorsman, a trapper, and never afraid to stand up for his rights and defend his own interests. His wife, Jean, had seen Wilf's deteriorating health, and was concerned that he might have a serious health problem where he was either alone, or had no one except her to help in an emergency. I find that life expresses both our ways of life and the care we have for others by shaping itself to express these things.

On the night of Sunday, May 30, Jean noticed an intruder in the empty house next door to their home. She ran next door to the empty house, which they also own, and was later joined by Wilf. Jean chased a boy away, and they were sure that a second boy was still inside the house, trapped. They each guarded a door of the house, Jean with a hockey stick and Wilf with a loaded rifle, for a few minutes until the police arrived.

The police came, heard the story, and went into the house to search for an intruder. While they were searching in the house, Wilf collapsed, unconscious, on the lawn outside. He continued to breathe for about a minute, then stopped breathing. The RCMP members were called from the house; they came out quickly and started CPR on Wilf in less than a minute after he stopped breathing. The ambulance crew arrived in a very short time, about 5 minutes, with nurses aboard and expertly took over.

Wilf was able to leave this life as he lived it: active, with a rifle in his hand, defending his property and not backing down to anyone. And Jean's concerns were also relieved: when Wilf collapsed, people trained in emergency CPR were only a few feet away, and were on hand in seconds. Some people may feel that the circumstances of Wilf's death that reflect his life are merely coincidence. I don't think so. Most of us have seen apparent coincidences, which are really messages about the truths of our lives, if we are able to acknowledge them. With open eyes, and especially an open heart, anyone may find messages of hope and love like this from life.

An emergency situation such as this also shows the character of the people in our emergency services. I was very grateful and proud of the work of the RCMP Constables, Chris Boardman and Doug Reti, the ambulance crew including Ambulance Supervisor John Reid, Gord Hind and Nurse Anna Muller, and Dr. Clark at the Nursing Station. Bernard Menelon and Dick Ewing were also of great help at this time. Mayo has good reason to be thankful that people like these are standing by to help us in our time of need.

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