I PUT MY head outside the door of St. Joseph’s Basilica Monday just after 3 p.m after attending the funeral for Paul Lorieau. It was raining hard, and then there was a tremendous roar of thunder from the heavens, giving us a good sign: Paul had just cleared his throat before starting to sing one of his favorite songs for a performance in heaven.
Paul was perhaps best known for singing the national anthems at Edmonton Oiler games, and it was evident Monday: several people in the jammed-packed church had Oiler jerseys. I could see how Paul touched so many lives: hockey fans, politicians such as former speaker of the Alberta legislature Ken Kowalski who said he always looked forward to Paul singing O’Canada when the house was sitting, and members of the media who always got a hearty hello from Paul in the press box.
He left us far too young at 71 when cancer took him. But the stories shared at his funeral echoed the wonderful, caring man he was who, until two weeks before his death, delivered food to Hope Mission. He was also a very committed family man. And, of course, there was music — beautiful music — from his family members in the choir and the spine-tingling piano playing from Henri Lorieau. In the end, we sang O’Canada at the end of the service without instruments, a most fitting tribute. You taught us well, my friend; you taught us well.