Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 10, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet


(Mary Farrell photo)


“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren Bennis.

The community of Antigonish gathered last Saturday to say thank you and good bye to David Miller. David passed away recently after a lengthy battle with cancer. He never complained about the hand he was dealt. He wasn’t afraid to die. He was afraid of not living and he kept going full speed right up until the end.

In the common vernacular, David and his wife, Aida Arnold were CFA’s, or “Come From Aways.”  People who are insular and protective of their own turf occasionally view CFA’s as outsiders and a threat.  David and Aida didn’t come to Antigonish to take from the community. They came to share their immense energy and talents to make us better. As someone said at the celebration of life on Saturday, David and Aida were ABC’s: Antigonishers  By Choice”.

Of all the traits with which David was imbued, curiosity may have been the greatest. Martin Luther King famously said, “I have a dream.”  David’s epitaph should read, “I have an idea.”

One only had to scan the Art House to see the wide swath that David cut in Antigonish. He touched people from every walk of life. Someone jokingly said that everyone thought that THEY were David’s best friend, a testament to his warm, gracious and caring personality. While he had lots of opinions, he valued other points of view with dignity and respect. One of the most touching speeches at the event was from a former employee who praised David for giving him confidence. He never felt that he was working for David and Aida but with them.

Many leaders lead from the front but David “often led from the middle or back of the pack” according to one of his eulogists. He led by example. No task was too small and he wouldn’t expect anybody to do something that he wouldn’t do himself. I witnessed this on many, many occasions first hand.

I had the honour of being asked to sing a song at the memorial. I was intrigued by the choice of music, Don Mclean’s “American Pie.” I chatted briefly with Aida a few minutes before the celebration began. She told me that when she and David met in the early 70s, American Pie was a chart topper. Aida being an American, David demonstrated his charm by referring to her as his “American Sweetie Pie.” I confessed to the audience that I had rarely sung this song in broad daylight or without a supporting cast of well lubricated friends (including myself). In order to keep the event on schedule I chose not to sing every verse! Kudos to the audience who sang their hearts out.

David will be sorely missed but he has left a deep footprint. We can honour his memory by being inquisitive and looking for opportunities when problems present themselves as David did numerous times during a long, distinguished life.

David will be honoured by the Town of Antigonish with a bench in his name being placed at his beloved Chisholm Park.

David’s Dream continues.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 6, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

The Art Fair team


“Who are you?

Who, who, who, who?

Who Are You? The Who

When people look at you, how do they identify you? Is it by the work you do? Is it as a member of an organization, a volunteer, a parent?

Recently, I was sitting around our dining room table with a high school reunion committee. In a previous life, these folks were business people, doctors and educators. Today, we wear the most important hats as old friends. We’re grandparents, volunteers and increasingly care givers to aging parents. I suspect that the majority of my readers fit into one or all of these categories. Our new identities, as it were.

If you’re in your 20s today, you’re likely finishing up your education and starting to gain traction in the work world. Some of you have already started families. The 30-50 age group are deep in the trenches of life, accumulating assets and lots of debt. You’re raising families and paying bills and retirement seems to be an eternity away. By the way, don’t let anybody tell you that you need to save a million dollars to retire comfortably. Try to get to retirement debt free and live simply once you get there.

For the 60 and over crowd there is little doubt that health is the focus of our attention. It’s hard to carry on a conversation these days without a story or two about painful joints although recent changes to the law enables one to acquires joints that are anything but painful. We are also very conscious of our mortality. There are constant reminders as I seem to attend at least one wake or funeral just about every week.

While I eagerly anticipate the 50th reunion of the old Antigonish High School in 2020, I take great pleasure in meeting every three months or so with old friends. No one around the table really cares who we were or what we did in the past. Having the time to sit around and reminisce is such a wonderful thing after busy lives.

But being older doesn’t mean that it’s time to take the foot off the gas. There’s still a lot of living to do. Staying engaged and maintaining friendships is crucial to happiness. This doesn’t mean that you have to lead the parade. Just make sure you’re in it.

I draw your attention to this notice from the Art House regarding a very special event this Saturday, December 8th to honour the life of the late David Miller:


We just wanted to remind everyone of the celebration of David Miller’s life and contribution to the Antigonish Community. The celebration will be from 3-6pm at The Arts House on Dec. 8th.

We are reaching out today to announce that there will be a formal program from 3:30-4:30 with music and words of remembrance from people who knew David closely. We want to ensure everyone who is interested in attending this part of the celebration knows when it is happening

There will be refreshments, tea and coffee available throughout the afternoon. We hope to see you there and please pass this message on to anyone that would like to know about the details of this event


All the best,
The Arts House Team

Have a great weekend.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 3, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Len, Mark and Santa


Last Thursday was a pretty messy. A mixture of snow and rain made it hazardous to drive anywhere and the walking wasn’t all that desirable. With power outages and closures, there wasn’t much a person could do, so I turned on Handel’s Messiah, cranked up the speakers and drifted off to paradise.

Everyone’s musical tastes are unique. I happen to like just about everything. I haven’ quite figured out rap but my parents (initially) couldn’t understand our fascination with The Beatles in the early 60s when they were becoming a global phenomenon.

There are not many days when I don’t think of my parents because most days, I have at least one musical moment. I’m either playing music or listening to it. This time of the year, it’s hard to avoid it as most places of business have the Christmas soundtrack going full tilt.

I was blessed to grow up in a musical household with parents who came from musical families. Even before television (I’m dating myself), we would gather around the piano and sing. I have realized for a long time that this was the most incredible gift a person could receive.

Now I suspect that classical music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Trust me, I’m not a music snob but the sound of the London Philharmonic orchestra accompanied by a magnificent choir is as good as it gets for me. I often wonder about my ancestors who passed along this love of music. I love music even though I can’t read a note.

Someone once said, “It’s hard to make new old friends.” Friends of any description are to be cherished but there’s something special about friends you’ve had for a long time. On Saturday, I had the pleasure of providing some music at Green Meadows senior’s residence in North Grant. Our mother lived there for a while and it was good to see some of her former roommates. Besides Santa (!) there was one other very special guest in the person of Glenn Graham who came by and played his fiddle for an hour. We played Christmas music, fiddle tunes and a few Cape Breton songs. Mark Heffernan (pictured above) was the star as he sang three solos. It was a great afternoon.

Saturday evening was pretty special as well. Connie and Brian, two St.F.X grads and long-time friends, flew in for the weekend to attend the memorial for Jack and Judy O’Donnell. We used to sing together back in the early 80s. We meandered over to the chapel at the RK MacDonald Nursing Home and sang Christmas music for the better part of an hour. With the chapel decorated for the Lights of Love celebration, it provided a beautiful backdrop.

The weekend was capped off by a touching evening at St.Ninian’s Cathedral honoring the lives of the late Jack and Judy O’Donnell. Music, prayer, laughter and storytelling were in abundance, a very fitting tribute to a couple who have left a large footprint of compassion and caring. The grand finale was the St.Ninian’s Choir and the Men of the Deeps singing Josh Groban’s “We Raise you up.”

Rest in Peace Judy and Jack.

The Men of the Deeps


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