Saturday, February 02, 2019

A Life's Journey

2003, at the cabin - Garth is second from the left.
Because of Garth Mundle, our family's journey, and my life's journey, includes Nova Scotia.
Our dear family friend died earlier this week, and now my father is reunited with all his friends.

I've known Garth since I was three years old; he hasn't been a daily presence in my life since the mid-1970's yet he's always been a part of my life.
As I write in Field Notes, the book, Garth is the reason the Jewell family came to Nova Scotia in the first place, in 1979. He was our minister at the time, and he invited us to come to the place where he was born and raised -- Pugwash. No matter where he lived, or where he travelled, he always returned to the cabin on the back shore, to his family, and to his roots. We aren't the only people who know and love the Northumberland Shore because of Garth and his wife, Dorothy.

Garth was seven years old than my father (who died in 2009 at the age of 67) and as Garth aged, his looks reminded me of my dad. I appreciated those moments when it was like my father was right there. You can see in the photo they don't look alike (and my father had put weight on since his diagnosis) but seeing Garth always reminded me of my father, and that was special to me. I suppose this means, now that Garth is gone, that last tangible connection to my father is gone as well (I mean this in a way that is different from seeing Dad in my sister's children).

As I write this and read Garth's obituary, it occurs to me that my father and I might be alike in this way: We attract into our lives people who are more flamboyant and outgoing, who are oral storytellers and uninhibited dancers, who live life to the fullest -- and allow us to be at their side to watch and listen and absorb, in great appreciation. Being with Garth was always wonderful. I'm glad we shared a meal at the back shore last summer.

I know you don't know Garth, and have only read about him briefly in my book, but I'd like to share the words from his obituary because it captures him completely, and reminds me why my father treasured this man and their friendship -- and why I feel so blessed to have known him all my life:

MUNDLE, Garth Irving 
1935 - 2019 
On Monday, January 28, Garth journeyed from this life. He died in Ottawa after suffering a massive stroke. Born in Nova Scotia to Stanley and Alice (Coulter) Mundle in 1935, Garth grew up in Pugwash and could be found there in the "yellow cabin" every summer since. Mourning his passing are his wife Dorothy Naylor; son Jim (Sandra) and daughter Carol (Jean); grandchildren Heather, Isabelle and Andre; great-grandchild Bella; brother Eldon (Janice) and sister Carolyn Cameron; the extended Mundle family; the Naylor family; and a large network of friends. Son David and grandchild Tina journeyed from this life before him. Garth was a faithful and skilled minister with many congregations in the United Church of Canada, and also served as principal of St. Stephen's College, Edmonton. He was passionate about progressive theology and social justice, delighted in music and dancing, and savoured simple pleasures such as a good hors d'oeuvre and aperitif before dinner. Approaching life with gusto, wit, and candour, he made gatherings he attended lively and thought-provoking events. Garth shared his talents and time freely, and will be greatly missed by those who knew and treasured him. 

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