Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Turning shock and grief into compassion and understanding

The immediate response to a child’s small child alone in a vehicle on an afternoon in record-setting temperatures is profound grief. How could this happen in north Edmonton in temperatures soaring to 40 degrees?  We may feel an incredible sense of helplessness. And, given the past heat wave, emotions can take shapes and sizes we may not even know exist. That’s understandable. But is there any possible way we can transform those emotions into compassion and understanding for a local family going through hell right now?

There are countless questions we can ask about the situation. We will never know the answers. Such a story reaches our emotions on very personal levels. We think of the little people in our own lives and how we would feel if something happened in our own worlds.

The family and friends of the small child needs to be surrounded by the community right now. Some of those people are close family members, others are friends and others will be strangers touched by the story. These are challenging times for our city as it weeps together in this unimaginable situation. But beyond our grief we should challenges ourselves to reach out and try to help. Perhaps doing so defines being a caring citizen.

Paul Lorieau: a man of kindness and unforgettable class

Reporters are lucky people. Because we get to see the real, human side of people: up close and personal. While thousands see and hear someone from afar or on television, we get to have interactions with stars. In some cases, we even get to have dinner with them. And those are the thoughts I am having now when I think of the passing of Paul Lorieau.

Mr. Lorieau will be known best for his thundering renditions of O’Canada at Edmonton Oiler games. He always had time to say hello — whether it be on the way to sing on centre ice or on his way out of the building. When I was writing a column for the sports department of the Edmonton Journal in 2006, I saw what class Mr. Lorieau had. I wrote my column during the Stanley Cup playoffs from the media dining room at Rexall Place and tried to file it at the end of the first period.

Mr. Lorieau came up for dinner after he sang O Canada. When I was finished writing I often asked if I could join him for a cup of coffee and piece of pie as he was finishing dinner. I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair so when I approached his table I was sitting down. Mr. Lorieau always stood up to greet me and gave me a firm but warm handshake. We would talk about many things, especially family, before leaving the dining room for second period action.

A true gentleman with endless class is how I will always remember Paul Lorieau. My job as a reporter afforded me to see that. As a person I was so lucky to have shared time with him.