Six months ago, on January 9, 2017, my brother Donald died. I am grateful that I was able to be with him in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver at the time.
Donald John Hogue was born July 18, 1937 and spent the first few years of his life in La Salle, Manitoba. He had a few health problems as a child including a bout of polio. Here are some of my favourite photos of him as a child.
Believe it or not, there was a time when a photographer would go door to door with a pony offering to take pictures! How could a mother say no?
Here’s a picture with his big brother and Mémère in La Salle.
This portrait is, I suspect, from his First Communion at St. Ann’s.
His dapper look in this photo foretold a lifelong habit of stylish dressing.
Don was eleven years older than I was, and he left home, Winnipeg, when he was nineteen. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, he was “off to see the world”.
He didn’t see that much of the world before being captivated by the beauty of Vancouver.
I remember many train trips, traveling on Dad’s CN pass, to visit him in that gorgeous city.
Later he moved to Toronto, for business reasons. Any time he came “home” to Winnipeg, we all made a fuss.
Don always made time to take me aside on these visits, and really listen to what I had to say about whatever was going on in my life at the time. When I had children myself he did the same thing, finding time during a visit to really inquire about their interests. Clearing out his apartment after his death, I came across all the photo albums/scrapbooks that he kept, filled with birth/wedding announcements for all of the extended family. The tears flowed when I saw those reminders that, despite living away, he held us close in his heart.
When circumstances allowed him to move back to the coast, he jumped at the chance. He loved the ocean and the mountains. If, as I believe, a human’s life is measured by their effect on other people, then Don’s was a great success, for he truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, especially through his involvement in AA. The many friends I met in Vancouver when he died were testament to that truth.
Two friends in particular were the sole reason Don was able to continue to live his life with dignity and independence in his apartment. They know who they are, and they also know they have my eternal gratitude.
Rest in peace dear brother.