Friday, June 24, 2016

Had I been asked to speak, I would have said something like …

by Anonymous

Let me start by saying funerals make me uncomfortable.  I’m never sure whether the words I offer bereaved family members are sufficiently adequate to bring any comfort in the aftermath of a death.  Such was the case today, June 23, when I attended services for retired GO Transit driver Garnet "Garney" Thompson.

The visitation and memorial service were lovely.  There were memory boards with photographs of Garney and his family through the years, as well as his achievements as a driver with GO Transit.  One of the photos — of a much younger Garney — touched me.  Why?  Because he wore the same facial expression that ended a discussion on my last trip with him.

During that trip last autumn, Garney told me of his desire to retire.  He told me he'd been in the saddle long enough — forty-one years total with TTC, Gray Coach, and GO Transit.  He related to me not only his first trip with GO Transit, but also the genesis of Bus Ops.

I reciprocated by beginning to share with Garney my first trip with him from Burlington to St. Catharines one sunny Sunday afternoon in June 2011, but before I got very far, he cut me off with a terse "I don't work weekends!" 

Undaunted, I continued my tale.  I related to Garney details of that day — details that only he would know.  I finished with, "Are you certain you've never worked on a weekend?"

As we came to a stop at a red traffic light, Garney cocked his head in my direction, and gave a sly smile — the same facial expression he had in the photo positioned in the lower right corner of the first memory board.  I winked in return.  No more was said on the matter.

My lasting memory of Garney is that he had a kind heart.  I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to toast him and congratulate him on his retirement.

This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the day I first met Garney.  May he rest in peace.

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