I wanted to post this Thursday when I heard the news of Stuart Mclean’s death. People were talking about it, and I wanted in on the conversation.
When I travel though, Internet access isn’t always immediate, so I decided it would have to wait until today.
It was the news no-one wanted to hear, though I knew it was coming. Stuart Mclean, dead of cancer at 68. When he stepped aside from his CBC Radio show, The Vinyl Cafe, just before Christmas, it seemed a sure sign that he was losing his battle with melanoma.
If you are Canadian, you already know about Stuart Mclean. He was a national treasure, a storyteller who used humour to explore the human condition. Even if you weren’t a fan you were vaguely aware of the show and its influence, especially if you are of the baby boom generation. He was our chronicler, bringing us through life with whimsy and humour, and always seeing the best in us.
His stories of Dave and Morley, their children and dog have entertained us for, it seems, forever. His word pictures are so detailed that the characters came to life. Dave and Morley are my friends. Well, more Dave than Morley. When Mclean first started telling his tales of the Vinyl Cafe, on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside program, I remember his describing it as the “world’s smallest record shop.” I didn’t realize it was fiction, I wanted to hear more about the store (and wanted to visit it and make some purchases) and less about the characters. But that changed.
More than once Stuart Mclean has managed to reduce me to tears. Maybe it’s my age, but I identified with much of what he spoke about. Family and the struggles with raising children. The foibles of your neighbours (not that I would ever have quirks that they would find amusing or a little strange). the camaraderie of good friends. The necessity to adapt to change, and of course, confronting mortality.
He had a gift for revealing the divine in the ordinary, though I don’t know if he would have expressed it that way. I don’t know what his relationship with his Creator was. I do know that he was given a rare gift of communication, and I am only one of millions who will miss him.
As well, he was given a gift many of us do not receive. He could see that the days of his life were numbered and could make appropriate preparations. I do hope he took time to get acquainted with Jesus before he died. If so, and if it doesn’t seem sacrilegious to say it, I can look forward to hearing some new Dave and Morley stories in Heaven.