My employer, Lieutenant Governor Lois E. Hole, died yesterday.
I wouldn't presume to call myself a friend of Her Honour, but I had tremendous respect, admiration, and affection for her, and I hope that she felt the same way about me.
Unlike many Albertans, I was barely aware of Lois' existence before I started working for her. But I quickly discovered what a genuinely warm and caring person she was, and I appreciated her willingness to allow a stranger to work on her autobiography. Lois always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when they'd wronged her.
Lois was unfailingly kind and generous to me during the years I spent writing in her voice; even when I made a mistake, she rebuked me so gently that I was doubly motivated to do a better job next time. She met Sylvia twice, and treated her with incredible solicitude. She made her feel welcome, and I think Lois was genuinely happy that I had a girlfriend.
I am not emotionally devastated by Lois' death. I was not a family member; I was an employee. To indulge myself in an overabundance of grief would be, I think, disrespectful to those who have far more cause to mourn: her loved ones.
But I am sad. I'm sad that she didn't have the chance to meet the Queen again, nor to participate in Alberta's centennial celebrations. I knew that she was really looking forward to the big events of 2005, and she really deserved to be there. And I think the people of Alberta would have enjoyed the centennial all the more if she had lived to take part.
Moreover, I am deeply saddened that this most conservative of provinces has lost a great liberal voice. She was making a difference in our political culture, a positive one from my point of view, and I wish that she'd had that extra twelve months to get her simple message out: care for each other. All the speeches about libraries, about schools, about multiculturalism, the arts and health care boiled down to that simple point. We're here for each other.
Or we should be.
The really hard thing about death is that life goes on. Someone important vanishes, and yet we who live on still have to drive home, wash the dishes, pay the bills, get our homework done, go back to work the next morning. Life doesn't stop to mourn.
Lois, thank you for giving me the chance to realize a dream. Thanks for helping me help others, thanks for caring, and thanks for speaking out. You make me wish I believed in an afterlife.
Earl, Her Honour and Sylvia at the 2003 L.G. staff Christmas party.