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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Director's Cut

My best friend from college passed away on Memorial Day evening. I had been to Toronto the week before to visit him in Hospital. It rained most of the time. It was he who first introduced me to serious cinema.
It was not Memorial Day in Canada, but it was here and in southeastern Michigan it had rained. At approximately 7:15 pm there was not just a brilliant rainbow, but two clear, distinct, and brilliant rainbows in the dark quarter of the sky where the clouds were gathered.
I have seen two rainbows before, but never two full rainbows and never two sharp, clear arches stretching from horizon to horizon.

 (I guess the second bow was not as brilliant as the first!)

The trip to Toronto is 4 hours, but I went in the afternoon so it was 6 hours. The MacDonald-Cartier Highway, the 401, is a grumbling old moveable traffic jam from Kitchener to Toronto and I decided to get off and take Mt. Pleasant from Lawrence down to city center and my hotel. Every traffic light on Mt. Pleasant was not functioning and there were long lines of cars.
Finally I zipped over to Yonge St. and discovered that the hydro bill for the stop lights on Yonge had been paid, and schlepped my way down to Bond St.

My friend was in Toronto General on Elizabeth St just south east of Queen's Park. It is adjacent to The Hospital For Sick Children, a place where my niece had spent a good deal of time growing up: Sick Kids everyone calls it.
I do not think I had ever been inside it before. I certainly had never been in Toronto General, either. I had visited Baycrest Hospital on Bathurst, north of Lawrence Avenue, right across the street from Daiter's Deli and a bakery - whose name I forget - that had the most delectable challah bread I ever tasted.
A good way to remember hospitals might be the delis and bakeries nearby; forget the sad memories.
(Daiter's Deli is gone now. The bakery is an East Asian deli, and has no challah. I hope that it was something like its first week in business, because it had lots and lots of empty shelves, which is usually a red flag of sorts: either you are too late or something else is seriously amiss.)

The funeral was a bright sunny day and the sun baked us maliciously. My shoes hurt. I wore a white hat and did not really know anyone. It was a long trip to Toronto and would be a long trip back. Standing around the grave site, the family asked if anyone had some words to say. Two chums from DeLaSalle Prep had reminiscences, then I came up and sang "Gondola No Uta" in Japanese from the movie Ikiru.
My voice broke in exact mimicry of Mr. Watanabe's voice as he sang with tears running down his cheeks, in the snow, on the swing set in the new childrens' park... and I thought of life and Pachinko and bright lights, suddenly remembering the shots in the Pachinko arcade from the film.
I did a good job. My voice sounded pretty old, pretty sad, pretty Shimura Takashi singing about cancer and memory, there where Massey Creek flows to the Don.


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