White gloves, doppelgangers, and Glenn Gould’s piano in Ottawa

There’s little left to say about the theft of My Bride’s and my computers while in Ottawa, except that, as we all know, things can always be worse.

Yesterday we learned that friends who work in Thailand had not only their laptops, but their passports (with critical visas), ID, wallets and anything else of any importance stolen while travelling in Hungary.

Likely an inside job, the hotel safe was lifted from their room. Said friends were stranded in a Budapest-area hotel unable to leave Hungary for two weeks.

So it’s easy to complain you don’t have shoes until you see a man without feet.

But we will say thanks again for the generous offers of replacement of stolen machines or their  value — another such offer came in yesterday. We’re humbled.

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So we can now finally get to that Order of Canada event at Rideau Hall where My Babe was not only among the youngest of recipients, but certainly the hottest.

The Governor General, he’s called “His Excellency,” knew this, how hot my wife is, so he managed to drop the OC snowflake pin when putting it on her dress. (My wife assured him these things happen, but he should know that the babies, at least in her care, are generally not dropped.)

I stood Child #2, the boy, on top of his chair because his pillows – all three kids were given pillows to sit on – still weren’t tall enough to see. Of course, all three children went mad with delight during Mom’s moment.

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During the informalities of that morning’s ceremony, My Bride had spoken with filmmaker David Cronenberg, now a Companion of the Order, the highest of the Order’s ranks, someone who later, during the evening dinner, also gave Yours Truly a smile and a congratulations.

This, I’m sure, is because I was the only guy in tails, the morning suit given to me by my British brother-in-law. (The only guy!) “We like tails,” is how one woman put it, looking me up and down.

Tails or not, there was still plenty enough of other formalities: even the cab doors were opened by RCMP officers in white gloves and full uniform, this when the kids and I first arrived at Rideau Hall.

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Our next cab, the next day, Mom with us this time, came after she and I took the kids biking along the Rideau.

Strangely, the cab driver somehow confused me with long-time Senator Daniel Alfredsson, the now retired hockey player who runs around as my doppelganger, something you might recall from this incident in Niagara-on-the Lake.

He, the cab driver, somehow got talking about Alfredsson – (OK, I might have slightly encouraged this) – and he told us with great pride that he had actually given Alfredsson a ride once years earlier.

At which time I removed my Team Canada hockey cap and asked him to have a close look at me.

“Do you want my autograph?” I asked.

“Oh my God! Are you kidding me?!” he said. “You mean that you’re …?”

The Children, in the back seat, got very excited about this, but the Children’s Mother, beside them, began pounding on my back with considerable force, harder and harder, so hard that, fearful I’d somehow chuck-up something I’d rather not, I had to relinquish and come clean to the driver.

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Back to Rideau Hall, after that morning pin-dropping ceremony, there were, naturally, photos with His Excellency and his wife, Sharon, photos which also included the kids.

At the formal evening dinner, Sharon, who is diminutive in stature but possessing a large, firecracker personality, then took My Bride and I behind closed doors to get another photo, this time with the Governor General and their fine dog, Rosie.

Of course, we were dumbfounded by this – I mean, the GG’s office with a photo of His Excellency and his wife and Thom and Jean and … Rosie the dog? Would they want to use this for their Christmas photo?

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The highlight of it all,  though, from my perspective, something that shows just how much class My Bride really has, is something I hope I might remember even when I’m some old, lost soul wandering around some nursing home not knowing my name anymore.

It’s from that formal evening at Rideau Hall.

“Your wife is waiting for you,” someone told me, and so with some others, wines and coffees in hand, I wandered from one Turkish-carpeted room to the next until we came to a final room which had on one side a striking grand piano that had been owned and played by Glenn Gould, that Canadian among the most renowned pianists of the 20th century.

There was My Bride sitting at the keys.

Then she was playing The Song, I mean T-H-E Song, that is MY song, the one she wrote for me and first played at our wedding 15 years ago.

Of course, you can’t play a song like this on an instrument like this in front of a group of people like this in a place like this and not expect others to follow with something of their own. And so new players and new songs  and new memories followed.

And I sat and listened, eyes closed, without hurry and without anything else that would take away from the moment in time that it was.

3 Comments

  1. Dorothy Erb May 20, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Dear Jean and Thom,
    After the sorrow of your loss this letter was a welcome relief. I can picture the GG dropping that pin and Jean’s comment to make him laugh.

    How well you described your happy, memorable evening ! Won’t it be fun to see that photo sometime? Who knows what they’ll do with it.

    Thanks for the light-hearted story of your time at Rideau Hall. Too bad the piano playing wasn’t on audio for us to enjoy.

    Dorothy Erb.❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Ruth L. Snyder May 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing both your struggles and the highlights of your recent days.

    The Glenn Gould comment caught my eye – I’m a Music for Young Children teacher. What a great way to end an amazing celebration 🙂

  3. Thomas Froese May 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    A memorable ending, indeed.

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