Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tie him down

I'm going to have to tie Denny down this week while he recovers from his troubles. He's improving noticeably every hour. He's wanting to chase the cat and he's eating (and peeing) like a horse. The first time he ran out of his kennel wagging his tail I thought I'd cry I was so happy. Yeah!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

It looks like it will be a happy ending

Denny has made it through another night and it looks like he is going to be okay. On Wednesday he was enthusiastically greeting someone at the door and he got stepped on. I rushed him to the vet and they pumped him full of steroids and lasix and kept him on oxygen. He made it through that night - I only realized from their comments yesterday that they hadn't expected he would. He came home with me yesterday at dinner and while he's still really weak and fragile he has eaten a little and peed and pooped. His lungs are big bruises apparently and it is important to keep him really quiet to let him heal. It isn't hard right now - all he wants to do is sleep.

I'm a basket case. I'm buying bubble wrap today. But I am also so grateful for the friends who came and sat vigil with me and who prayed for him and who have helped me feed and care for him. I am also more grateful than I can express to my vets. Northside Veterinary Clinic is amazing. They were so good to him and kind to me. And they went in three times in the night to check on him. They have been the most incredible vets through all of Robbie's troubles and now little Denny's misadventure. I am so very grateful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the anniversary of my confirmation, many, many years ago. It is also the Feast of the Falling Asleep of Mary in the old Anglican prayer book, the Feast of the Assumption in the Roman Catholic church (where I was confirmed) or simply the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was a beautiful day the day I was confirmed. Blue clear sky, no wind, hot. A typical Winnipeg summer day. The confirmation took place at the regular 11:00 AM Mass if I remember correctly and afterwards there was a little party in the garden between the church and the rectory. My most vivid memory of the day is the smell of the chrism, light, sweet, fragrant, on my forehead.

As I said the office this morning I remembered the sweetness of that day and gave thanks....

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bonhoeffer on Grief

This was included in one of the sympathy cards my Mom received:

Nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love and it would be wrong to try to find a a substitute. We must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first but at the same time it is a great consolation for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap. God does not fill it but on the contrary keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other even at the cost of pain.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Barb Angel's Eulogy for Dad

Paul's Eulogy

I am here today, on behalf of myself and my family, to share with you what it was like to have Paul for a close friend. We met Paul and Donna and their daughters Erin and Nicki, completely by accident (blind luck or fate?). In the spring of 1970, after travelling and working overseas for four years, our family moved into our first house in Winnipeg. We thought we were settling down to a comfortable bourgeois existence in a respectable neighbourhood. Much to our surprise, when we looked out into the neighbouring backyard, we saw the 26 foot hull of a wooden sailboat -- under construction. We soon learned that this was a little project that Paul, then a young economics professor at U. of M., had brought from Vancouver, just in case there were decent sailing waters about! Over the next few years, our family got quite involved in helping prepare the "Nis'ku" for her launch – Jeannette remembers following Paul around like a little puppy dog, picking up nails and fetching tools. Mike joined Paul and another friend on Nis'ku's maiden voyage down the Red River and into the waters of Lake Winnipeg. In subsequent years, all of us, including Eric and Colin, enjoyed many adventures sailing with Paul.
Well, we thought living next to a shipyard was a pretty unique experience, but the surprises didn't end there – there were no fences between our yards and since our back porches were about ten feet apart, we began to have many opportunities to get to know this exceptional family better. We discovered that Paul had many other interests and passions, including brewing his own beer, which he was eager to introduce to Mike, and that he was a handyman extraordinaire, who despite having a lifelong black cloud over his head regarding plumbing emergencies, could pretty well fix anything. Paul exuded enthusiasm and confidence, and even more importantly, made other people feel like they could develop some practical skills too! This had a profound influence on our children, who remember him as someone who didn't just talk about the things he would like to do, but just went ahead and did them!
Over the course of that first summer we shared many meals, friends and parties, always filled with music. Their household was a magnet for people who loved folk music, and shared a passion for political discussion. Paul played several instruments, but my most vivid memory is of his breakneck banjo introduction to Darlin' Corey, an Appalachian song about a backwoods moonshine maker! It just made you want to get up and dance, or start the revolution – do something radical, anyhow!
Paul's interest in folk music drew us into a circle of people who founded the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and later the West End Cultural Centre. He was a dedicated volunteer and board member of both those organizations. Later, when I was teaching Canadian history, he used to come and sing folksongs for my classes to illustrate some of the key events and issues in Canadian labour history. When the Manitoba Opera Association called for volunteers to form the chorus, Paul got involved in what became a lifelong passion – opera. He loved singing, and was passionate about his likes and dislikes – we used to have marvellous set-tos about the relative merits of English vs Welsh choral music, which Puccini opera was his greatest work, who was the greatest tenor, etc.
What really baffled us was how Paul managed to combine so many interests along with a full-time teaching and research career. Perhaps the answer lies in this little anecdote that Mike remembers from the early seventies. We occasionally used to go next door to watch episodes of the "Onedin Line," a wonderful British television series about a west country sea captain who founded a shipping line early in the 19th century. During commercials Paul used to jot down notes for a textbook on Canadian economics he was writing for his classes. He never wasted any time, and when he turned his attention to a task, his concentration was phenomenal. This ability to put his heart and soul into everything he undertook was inspiring. You have only to look at the garden and landscaping, including the fencing and the patio, that Paul and Donna designed and built for their house in Vernon, to appreciate his energy and creative abilities, which did not lessen in retirement.
You can imagine our joy when we found out that Paul and Donna had decided to retire to Vernon. Over the last five years, we've shared many meals, a lot of cross-country skiing, golfing, and sailing, and much music together. And always wonderful conversation – animated discussions about social justice, religion, politics, and the common good. When you were talking with Paul, it was never a polite, superficial exchange – inevitably, you found yourself embroiled in a vigorous, hard-hitting, and passionate debate. As a mutual friend put it, Paul defied stereotypes – a university professor who was not elitist, but a down to earth practical man; a folk musician who loved opera and singing in choirs. He was full of inconsistencies which were delightful and maddening. He didn't hide behind the trappings or conventions of whatever role he took on. He was unpretentious, unassuming, approachable, engaged and present. But what we remember above all is his great capacity for friendship – through Paul we experienced a vision of how life could be lived fully and with commitment; not at the expense of others, but in the hope of making a better world here and now, in this place, and with a deep conviction that everyone could and should take part in this great project.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Words about Dad by John Loxley

Professor Paul Phillips died on July 16, 2008, in Vernon B. C.

Paul graduated from the London School of Economics in 1967 with a PhD in Labour Economics and Industrial Relations. He joined the Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, on July 1, 1969 having spent two years as the Research Director, BC Federation of Labour. He retired from the Department on January 1, 2004 and was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2005.

Paul was a prolific writer with a publications record extending over thirty years. His interests were broad, spanning labour economics, regional economics, political economy, Canadian economic history and worker self-management, a rare intellectual feat but one that he managed with ease.

His first book, No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia, combined economic history with labour economics and remains the authoritative work in the field. This was followed by his Regional Disparities. His Women and Work(with daughter Erin Phillips) is required reading for anyone interested in the gender dimensions of the Canadian labour market and is now in its third edition. In addition, he published three other books and numerous articles in the area of both theory and policy of collective bargaining and industrial relations.

Paul was responsible for editing and publishing the seminal work of H.C. Pentland, Labour and Capital in Canada: 1640-1860. Once regarded as the most heavily cited, unpublished PhD thesis in Canada, this work has long occupied a central place in Canadian economic and labour history. Paul Phillips made it readily available for all and, in the process, contributed his own important analysis of Pentland's work. He played a similar role in rescuing, highlighting and critiquing the contribution of Vernon Fowke on the national policy and Canadian agricultural and regional policy.

Many of Paul’s publications have an economic history focus. He wrote on mining in BC, agricultural development in the prairies, prairie urbanization, the National Policy and the evolution of Canada away from a staple driven economy. Much of this work addressed important theoretical issues within an historical context. Political economy theories of development and underdevelopment, from hinterland/metropolis views to unequal exchange and the Staple Theory, from Innis to Marx, from Emmanuel to Frank, inform his writings but are dealt with critically and creatively. Theory has a strong presence in his work and his publications reveal a familiarity with a remarkably broad array of theories. He co-authored two texts on orthodox economic theory, with Jim Seldon, while publishing almost all his other works from what can be best described as a 'political economy' perspective.

More recently, Paul developed an interest in transitional economies and, encouraged by his friend and collaborator, Bogmil Ferfila of theUniversity of Ljubljana, he became a recognized expert on the economy of Slovenia.

Professor Phillips was a popular teacher who set high academic standards. He attracted students by his commitment to them and by his passion for his field. He wrote several books specifically to meet the needs of his students and was regarded by students and colleagues alike as a serious, demanding and devoted teacher. He played an important role in developing the Labour Studies Program and was a key teacher in that program. He was also very active in the formation of the Global Political Economy program. For many years he was the main advocate for and teacher of Canadian Economic History in our department. He was held in very high regard by students and colleagues alike and could always be relied on to teach whatever the department required and to do so effectively, to the satisfaction of his students. He supervised several graduate student theses, most recently in the areas of women and the unemployment insurance system, a history of First Nations' economic development in Manitoba and fair trade.

Professor Phillips also had an outstanding service record. Within the university, he was an active member of UMFA and served as Chief Bargainer during very difficult negotiations in the 1995 strike. Paul belonged to the group of left-academics who, in 1978, brought the Society for Socialist Studies National Office to the University of Manitoba, where it was given accommodation at University College. As Treasury and, later, Member at Large, of the National Executive, he served the cause of progressive research and teaching. With Cy Gonick, Paul organized the 1994 conference, on ‘The Rise and Demise of An Industrial Relations System: 50 Years of PC1003’, from which came a signed collection of co-edited papers published by the Society. Outside the university, his service to the community was remarkable. He was Chairman of the Milk Prices Review Commission and the Fluid Milk Commission, Chairman of the Milk Control Board and member of the Dairy Board. He chaired several Industrial Adjustment Committees, served as a member of the board of the Community Unemployed Help Centre and of the Manitoba Economic Development Advisory Board. He was active on the board of the Manitoba Opera Association and sang in the opera for many years. He was also a board member of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and an avid and accomplished musician. Paul also sailed and played polo. After ‘retirement’ to Vernon BC, he not only remained extremely active academically, but also sang in two choirs and became involved in theatre.

As his family stressed in their remembrance of him, ‘much of his academic work and community life was motivated by a deep and passionate commitment to social justice and a profound commitment to speaking for those who are left out of the economic, political and social conversation.’

Paul leaves to mourn him his wife Donna, daughters, Erin and Nicole, brothers David and Rhys, their families and many close friends.

John taught with Dad for many years and was a very close friend and colleague.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quite the Charmer

Yes, Denny Crane does like the chicks :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Meet Denny Crane

After all the sorrow in my life these past few months it is with great joy that I introduce the newest member of my family....Denny Crane. Yorkies are friendly, courageous (ie a little in your face), social, high energy. Doesn't that sound like Denny Crane?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

PAUL ARTHUR PHILLIPS Died peacefully Wednesday, July 16, 2008, in Vernon, after a brief battle with cancer. He was predeceased by his parents Dick and Molly Phillips and his sister Ruth Phillips. He will be deeply missed by his wife Donna, daughters Erin and Nicole (Dale), his granddaughters, Lauren, Danika and Holly, his brothers David (Betty) and Rhys (Tatjana), brother-in-law Gary, sister-in-law Bobby (Ed), nephews and nieces and many dear friends especially his honorary family Barb, Mike, Eric, Jeanette and Colin Angel.

Paul was born November 3, 1938, in Hong Kong, the son of missionaries. The outbreak of war caused them to return to Canada, to Victoria where Paul grew up. A graduate of Mount View High School in Victoria, Paul enjoyed his 50th high school reunion in 2006. He graduated with a BSc in Chemistry and an MA in Economics at the University of Saskatchewan. He obtained his PhD from the London School of Economics in 1967.

A true renaissance man, Paul possessed an incredible variety of passions and gifts. As a scholar and teacher he wrote numerous books and articles on a significant range of topics including labour economics and labour relations, Canadian economic history and political economy, comparative economic systems and labour-based economies, and Yugoslavia and transitional economies. In recent years he has focused much of his work on environmental issues. He was also a dedicated teacher, taking great satisfaction in working with students and with his colleagues at the University of Manitoba, where he taught for 34 years and which conferred on him the honour of Professor Emeritus in 2005. He was also Adjunct Professor of American Studies at the University of Llubljana in Slovenia.

Much of his academic work and his involvement in political and community life was motivated by a deep and passionate commitment to social justice and a profound commitment to speaking for those who are left out of the economic, political and social conversation.

He had the same passion for his other interests: singing and acting, sailing, skiing, golfing, polo, gardening, cooking, beer and wine making, design and carpentry. Perhaps his greatest joy, however, came from music. A player of many instruments, Paul was active in folk music since the early 1960s, sang for 30 years with the Manitoba Opera Chorus and most recently sang with Aura Chamber Choir and the Vernon Welsh Men's Choir. So many of his friendships began with a shared love of music and it was a love he shared with and nurtured in his daughters.

Despite all of his involvement in groups and organizations, Paul was an independent thinker and unafraid to stand apart from a group. He took risks intellectually and personally and was not afraid to reassess a position. Yet in more trivial matters like taste in clothes or television shows he could be absolutely dogmatic and opinionated.

He will be remembered by friends and family for his fundamentally kind and generous nature, his great capacity for friendship and good humour, his dreadful puns, his steadfastness in any commitment, his willingness to stand up for what he believed was right, his curiosity and wide ranging intellect and his tendency to burst forth in song in just about any circumstance.

Cremation has taken place. There will be a memorial service Saturday, August 2, 2008 at the Schubert Centre, 3505 30th Avenue, Vernon, at 11:00 a.m. Please, no flowers. Donations can be made in his name to the BC Cancer Agency, Southern Interior, 399 Royal Avenue, Kelowna, V1Y 5L3 or the Vernon and District Hospice House, 3506 27th Avenue, Vernon, V1T 1S4. Arrangements have been entrusted to: Pleasant Valley Funeral Home 4303 Pleasant Valley Road Vernon, B.C. V1T 4M4 Phone: 250-542-4333

Back home from saying goodbye to Dad

Yesterday we held the memorial service for my father. It was a good day filled with memories, some tears, and a lot of conversation. I feel like I met two hundred people yesterday all of whom had lovely things to say about Dad. It made me proud and exhausted at the same time. Having now been a family member twice now at a funeral let me say I have real sympathy for how hungry and thirsty family members can get trying to get to the refreshments and having to stop every two feet.

Four of my friends from Lethbridge came to the service and I can not express how much that meant to me. It gives you incredible strength to know that your 'peeps' are holding you up in their hearts when you knees are going weak and you are in danger of losing it. Yes, I know tears are okay. But I had spent two weeks writing my reflection and I wanted to be able to read the whole thing.

This is what I wrote for my father:

When it became obvious that something was really wrong Dad sat down and chose the poems and some of the music we are hearing today for his service. He has always loved Dylan Thomas – I remember being forced to listen to a Child’s Christmas in Wales when I was too young to appreciate it – but I wish now I had the opportunity to ask him why these two poems. The thing is that he didn’t seem to ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’ when he was dying. From when he was diagnosed until the doctor told him that he had only a week or two to live he was what he described as fatalistic. He explained to me that he didn’t mean this in the sense of thinking that there was no hope, but in the sense that he thought things would progress the way that they were going to progress and he couldn’t wish it away. He appreciate that people were praying for him, he appreciated the care that it was reflected in such prayers, and he left open the possibility that there may be someone hearing those prayers, but he didn’t rage against God or the unfairness of this disease. Or if he did he did it quietly where we couldn’t hear it.

So my first reaction was that this poem was inappropriate for him. But then a friend pointed out to me that it did reflect much of how he lived his life. For my father did rage against social, political and economic forces that worked to diminish the light in people’s lives. Much of what motivated him was outrage when people were not treated decently or fairly. His work, his political involvement and much of his community involvement was driven by a commitment to social justice for all, especially those who were marginalized or silenced. More recently he raged against economic and political decisions which threaten the environment and the lives of future generations.

Even his social activities, his involvement with music, playing polo, sailing, building things, working in the garden were not trivial endeavors. Although they offered relief from the anger he often felt about economic and political matters they were still matters to be pursued with intensity. Even his leisure activities were opportunities to build community, create beauty, encourage the human spirit. He did not go gentle into any good night.

His passion was not always easy to live with. There were times when rage spilled out over us and times when it felt like Dad’s commitments to these bigger causes took priority over his family. And yet we were drawn into and shaped by his passions. In our owns ways Mom and Nicki and I share Dad’s passion for justice and beauty and community. While we may have found him at times infuriating he was not a trivial or a boring man and we are immeasurably changed by our life with him.

Many years ago I first read Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen there was one part that reminded me strongly of Dad’s way of living his life. The main character Reuven is worried about that his father is working too hard when he should be looking after his health. His father responds,

“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?”…I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”

Dad’s life was filled with meaning and he was worthy of his rest. But his dying was not just an end to that full and rich life. Even his dying itself was invested with meaning.

Dad has never been one to talk much about personal feelings and for most of my life he wouldn’t talk about death. He didn’t visit friends when they were dying and he hated going to funerals. Something significant shifted in him, however, when his sister Ruth died and I think it casts light on his choice of Thomas’ poem “And Death Shall Have no More Dominion”. When his only sister was diagnosed with cancer he phoned and visited her often and the week she died he flew out to be with her. When he phoned me to tell me Auntie Ruth had died he told me all about the week. He described how people had come to say goodbye and how it all felt. He told me how he felt being in the house and being with her. So out of character was this, I remember thinking, “who are you and what have you done with my father?” For most of his life I think he feared death but in that week spent with Ruth and her partner Joy and all their friends something changed in him and death had no more dominion.

After that he visited his friends when they were dying. He told me of one visit, how they had talked about their friendship and what they meant to each other. He expressed regret when another friend died before he had a chance to say goodbye. He was a changed man, a better friend, and in his own dying he was able to be a better husband and father. For whatever fear he may have had about dying he was not paralyzed by it. His big worry was us and how hard this was for us looking after him. Yet he was able to accept our help. He was able to allow us to care for him. Death had no more dominion.

And I think I can say for all of us, for my Mom and my sister, for our family and friends, who gathered with him that week that something has shifted in us because we walked that final week with him. Afterwards I met with a friend who lost her father two years ago. We shared our stories of what it was like walking on that holy ground: she said, “your heart is breaking but it is also breaking open.” Dad allowed us to care for him in a way we had never done before and in the process our hearts were broken open to love for him and for each other. And Death has no more dominion.