• Brian Gallagher

The heart of Glengarry (Dedicated to my dear friend Joanne O’Connor)

I have to tell you my friends; Thanksgiving is a bittersweet holiday for me and my better/best/bestest half. For years we have had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving Sunday with our dear old neighbours from Glengarry County, Ontario. Each year the day was filled with songs, toasts, stories and laughter surrounded by Bob O’Connor, his lovely (and well-loved) wife Joanne and her extended family; of which we were honoured to be thought of as included in this special company. After the initial song and toast to loved ones dearly departed (Mes chers amis, mes chers amis, lever votre verre…), accompanied by the pre-requisite shot of Fireball of course, we would set off for a happy hayride jaunt through the fields and forests of Glengarry stopping not only for pee-stops and haunted houses, but for more songs, and of course, more Fireball (nasty stuff that is, but does keep the cockles warm).

After we are all glowing happily it is time to head back and watch the kids giggle and screech as they run around the field trying to feed Bob’s cows ears of corn and then pick pumpkins from his patch out back before heading in to feast on the incredible country pot-luck turkey dinner (we bring wine…). After dinner we would go for a night walk down the valley or set off colourful paper lanterns and watch them meander across the valley’s night sky to destinations unknown. It is a celebration like no other and one that I keep closest to my heart knowing that I am honoured to be asked each year to share it with these great people whom I am proud to call friends and family.

But I did say it was bittersweet. Unfortunately we lost Joanne four years ago to brain cancer that took her quickly and cruelly. Her untimely passing at a young age was a shock to a multitude of people. To say she was the backbone of the family was an understatement. She was that special person one has that rare opportunity to meet who made everyone around her happier and better. She was not just missed by her family but by the entire county. She was also a teacher who helped raise so many of their children to become fine young people, all who mostly called her only ‘Miss Joanne.’ But her memory remains poignant in all of us and her Thanksgiving legacy continues, thanks to her strong and beautiful daughters Madison and Allison. And I know we all look in their faces and see back the reflection of that strong, proud and loving woman who consistently gave so much to so many. Congratulations girls for growing up to be the incredible women you are and thanks for making sure family stays together and stays strong. I know your mother smiles upon you with pride.

To all of you dear readers who have your own ‘Joanne,’ please take a moment during this weekend of thanks to remember her (or him) and all they have done for you. Bask in the rejuvenating glow of your family and friends. Thank them for being there with you, thank them for having you and thank them for their love and company. For without them we are alone, and alone is indeed a cold place to be. Peace, love and happiness to all.

Caution – shameless plug ahead…

I have had the pleasure of working with two very gifted local musicians, Keith Ford and Nick Thompson, for the last eight months on a new album. The trio is called ‘Gallagher Ford Thompson’ and the new album is called ‘A Simple Plan.’ I am very excited to announce that the album will be officially released tomorrow October 11. You can grab your copy through Bandcamp (www.gallagherofficial.bandcamp.com) and it will be available on iTunes, Amazon and all other digital platforms in about one week. Check it out – I hope you enjoy it!

If you have some music, art or other cool event you think I should be checking out, please hit me up at kickinthearts@yourlocaljournal.ca.


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