Anecdotage from David Warren went round to a few of his friends and is posted here mainly for the benefit of the people of our acquaintance who are unable to be here:
>>... He went into Princess Margaret (needing oxygen) Thursday; on Friday morning he was perfectly lucid though continuing bright yellow from the failure of his liver. He said Confession to Fr. Roche (his Newfoundlandish cousin-in-law), Last Rites, then lingered only until a little after lunch. The whole week he'd been fading fast.
Yet was still joking, especially about our communist hospital bureaucracy. He thought it very amusing that, throughout his medical report, because he had originally been admitted to Toronto General the previous week as "Short Of Breath", he was referred to consistently as "S.O.B." & "the S.O.B."
There was a very good Indian-from-Uganda nurse, however. John noticed that
she was also quite pretty. (So did I.)
Spooky things: He died at 1:28 p.m., hospital time. At 1:27, on her office clock downtown, Hilary White, his tenant, suddenly decided she couldn't work, because she was overwhelmed by the idea John was going to die.
She started walking bleakly west on Queen, running into me by coincidence at the longitude of Abelard book shop, whenupon she communicated her funk. I took her back to my place to give her tea, then checking messages, we learned that John had just died. One of those messages was from my mother, 1:24 p.m. on Bell Canada time log. My mother's message was that she'd had a premonition, "John will die today."<<
Dannielle Frum has forwarded a picture of him taken last summer at the Frum house in Washington. I have it in my inbox and really would like to post it because it is of John before the terrible deterioration started that so characterized the last months of his life. It is of him sitting up, rather stiffly I thought, on the deck of the Frum guesthouse where, as I am given to understand, inmates there are generally photographed for future guest-archiving.
I wish I could show pictures of John in the places I knew him, sitting up at breakfast doing the cryptic crossword; surrounded by friends and his sprawling family at one of the innumerable dinner parties arguing politics; at Mass in rapt attention at the moment of the elevation; (or, as the altar servers removed the disposable wooden "altar" they use for the N.O. Mass at St. Vinnie's immediately prior to the True Mass, muttering "get that bloody ironing board out of there...").
John and Anne's acquaintance is vast and his eldest son, John Jr., was telling me that a huge part of the task is just remembering everyone to call. We are learning how many of the great and famous are his friends. I came home on Thursday night when John had gone into the hospital and checked messages and Conrad Black had called wanting to come for a visit.
For those who are within driving distance, the funeral Mass is going to be Tuesday, ten am, at St. Vincent De Paul Parish at 263 Roncesvalles Avenue. The royal lying-in-state is today at Turner and Porter funeral home at 436 Roncesvalles Ave. from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. As Anne quoted in her book, the Desolate City, "pity a feller has to die to get a Latin Mass..."
There is so much about death that is simply strange. Warren and Fr. Derek Cross and I went to lunch Saturday and we all remarked on it. Perhaps because his decline was so fast and his death so sudden, we agreed, it was as though we had been having a conversation over dinner and he had paused a moment asking us to 'hold that thought' and then seeing him getting into a taxi and driving off. I am left thinking, 'wait...no... hang on...I wasn't finished that conversation..."
I apologize to whatever readers I have for the devotion to Muggeridgian themes to the next few posts, I don't really feel like thinking about much else at the moment. It is also good, I think for people to know about a man like His Lordship. One of the things we all appreciated about him was that he was living proof that it was possible to be the sort of person, the sort of Christian, that is celebrated in story and song. The sort we are supposed to be. We are used to bad news, disappointment and outrage, but in John there was only good news and triumph.
PS. If any of our technogeek friends can tell me how one goes about posting electronic photos on a blog, let me know.