Home Celebrities Egan: And so it came to this… goodbye, with hope and gratitude

Egan: And so it came to this… goodbye, with hope and gratitude

Some of the people who have told Kelly their stories over the years.  From top left Abdiaziz Abdi, Michael Deriger, Suzanne Kobe, Masahito Yoshida, from middle left: Dakota, Geoff Woodhouse, Dr.  Bhaskar Gopalan, Annie Herweyer, bottom left: Xander Fallis, Cynthia Taylor, Chris Grover, Nhora Aust.

After 2,500 columns and four decades in the journalism industry, our columnist reflects on the stories he told and how they changed him

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Well, kind and precious reader, it’s time – time to get some rest, time to escape.

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It’s been 2,500 columns since the shenanigans began in 2003, enough – forgive the audacity – to fill the Bible more than twice, possibly with so many miracles.

Journalistic work began much earlier, in 1979, at age 21, straight from the University of Ottawa, without a single course in journalism or writing, then or ever, the quietest kid you’ve ever seen.

Ends up in my 65th year with a bad hip but a great perch—wonderful wife and son, house, cottage, cars and, as my old friend ‘Arnprior’ Scheels used to say, money in the bank and land in the west. I am totally blessed.

1101 Baxter Road was my school. The craft was learned from editors named Skuce, Fisher, Davis, Bishop, Laiken, reporting from Aubry, Duffy and Payne, writing from MacQueen, McRae, MacGregor, McAuley and Ward, and a golden chance hung by an editor-in-chief, Warner , R.

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Over the years, readers have been the biggest, and there’s no way to adequately express gratitude for so much invaluable encouragement, so many story ideas, so many laughs and tears.

(Is the writer-reader relationship, surely, the most intimate possible between people who never know each other?)

So you were with me when I lost my brother, got married, buried my parents, saddened my fallen neighbor. And when the little one was born, now a man, you were also into things.

(You were there when I got stuck on my own roof this year, though some of you laughed in the wrong parts of the story!)

Work shapes you as you shape it – some learning is easy (“Get the dog’s name!”), but wisdom is hard earned.

As a brand-new reporter, the tragedy is not real. There are no dead people out there, mostly just small ink sketches —Smith, J., accountant, 45, Main Street, declared on the spot.

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It’s how you deal with the unthinkable; just copy. Until one day, like a young father, it all comes back home. And so a story.

The woman rocks in a chair on the second floor of a Renfrew with no elevator, telling us how she lost her son, just four, and a full-term baby, in an unbelievable car accident on Hwy. 17.

She is bandaged and crying, her hand shaking.

A few days earlier, with the boy in the car, she had left the house for the hospital, excited by the planned delivery. Then the accident. The boy would end his life as an organ donor. She came home from the hospital, alone, with a wooden “memory box” on the floor.

Inside was a pink blanket that the baby used briefly, and bits of her hair, and her hands/footprints left in pink clay.

This is what’s left of her children, a fine print from a baby’s little toes and toes, some photographs. As she sobbed, my eyes were blurry, the pen barely moving. The photographer couldn’t even look at me. He knew.

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The sadness in the small apartment was suffocating. This was nothing new. It was pure misery, in a small container painted with hearts and bears.

I tell this story to confess and illustrate. The reporter who left the apartment that day was not the same reporter who entered. Hard news eventually has this way of breaking, then putting you back together, as a more empathetic human being. Even 20 years later, I think of her, the story that is not “written”, but the one that inhabits.

But this, and it takes years to fully understand, is the essential job of a hometown newspaper. To be there in the darkest hour, for individuals, families, communities – to help us navigate a crazy and tragic world.

When a train crashes, when a tornado hits, when a village is completely flooded, we did our best to be there with you. It’s the Ottawa citizen way. This is our home too, since 1845. It’s not in us to turn our backs.

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So we hope the column has been a comfort, a tonic against the poison of the world, a place to find a laugh, a place to turn to when the city hurts, to find hope, the kind we all need to keep us alive.

And what an honor it has been to witness and serve.

It was an absolute privilege, but a heavy one, to have arrived at her door so often, to be ushered inside so warmly, to her chair and coffee, to her heart. Stories are little miracles like that.

There was all the writing, of course, and all the worrying, but there was all that life too, the life we ​​lived together.

So a weary and grateful soul is gone – it’s just time, you kind, considerate, old creatures, it’s just time.

To contact Kelly Egan, email [email protected]


Editor’s Note: After a hiatus, we expect Kelly’s column to return occasionally.

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