Trying to fulfill a promise to a grieving father

A lot of calls come into the newsroom in a day.
Some of the calls are from people who just want to talk.
Others are from people who need a lawyer, doctor, MP or MPP or an advocate.
From time to time, grieving people will call looking for a way to honour a loved one or who are hoping to find a way to ensure that person didn’t die in vain.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when a man from St. Thomas called with a message.
His daughter had died of an overdose and there was an investigation underway.
It was his only child and you could hear the pain in his voice. She had four children.
He wanted to warn other parents about what could happen to their kids. He also wanted to help his ex-wife, now looking after her four grandchildren.
This man said his daughter was in a drug rehabilitation centre and her boyfriend had taken her out. She was trying to get clean, he said.
I confirmed with police that yes, this woman had died and there was an investigation.
The man had recorded a video message in the hopes of warning other people about what could happen to their children too.
It’s always busy in the newsroom and I didn’t think we would do anything with this video. After all, police, health officials, politicians have all been speaking about this issue lately as the addiction scourge in society continues to claim lives. We have talked to addicts, to their families.
So I told him I would get back to him. He asked me if I would promise. He sounded so desperate to get his message out, so much in need of someone who would listen and care and help.
So I promised.
I phoned him back in a couple of days and I was shocked at what his roommate told me.
The roommate had found him on the floor when he returned home.
He said the man had some health problems and that he was unconscious but alive. He phoned 911 but when paramedics arrived, he was lifeless. He was pronounced dead.
I felt so sad that his family now has two deaths to deal with. He wasn’t able to deliver the message he wanted. He’ll never know that I kept my promise and called back.
All I can do now is try and speak for him. Try to tell people of the pain and suffering caused by drug addiction and the dangers associated with taking drugs.
Let them know that four kids are without a mother and grandfather now.
Ask for more resources to help those struggling with addiction. Write about the importance of supervised injection sites.
Say good-bye to the voice on the other end of the phone.


My Writing Portfolio

RCA Museum

Londoner arranges to get In Flanders Fields poet on battlefield

Man smashes car window with rock to save overheated dog

Senior feels safer at home than in hospital

Trainer’s brightest moment came in the dark of night

Hockey player makes extraordinary rise through figure skating ranks

Multi-media series to mark the start of the First World War

Torino Olympics portfolio

Cyclist collides with train and survives

Miami at top of its game

Death of Charley Fox: War veteran fought Rommel

Letters remind us of pain of war

Allen Olimer
Allen Olimer

I have just received a great gift from a man related to the Olimer side of our family by marriage.

Thanks to Clark Hooten, I have precious letters my uncle Allen Olimer sent home from the front lines during World War II.

He was killed in August, 1944.

There is also a letter from Allen’s sister-in-law Violet, writing to let her family members know of his death. It is truly heartbreaking.

In reading the letters, I wonder if we have really learned anything about the horror of war?

The rhetoric from politicians and other world leaders leaves little doubt that the two world wars are fading from collective memory and the generations that fought in these wars can no longer convey the pain.

We must remind our leaders, every chance we get, that going to war is not an option.

From my great-aunt Vi to relatives in Bracebridge Ont.: “We just had some terrible news. Allen was killed in action Aug. 8. Further information when they have it. It is almost too much to bear. I would have phoned only I did not want to upset mother. Well there is not anything to say or do. Love Violet.”