Taylor: Relationships we build

Connection with lost friend feels like a resurrection.

In the space of three days, I lost one old friend and found another.

At my age, old friends seem to be an endangered species. One after another, they exit into the wings and don’t return for the curtain call.

The most recent departure was Bob Scott, aged 84. I remember Bob principally as a performer—whether in front of his classes at Seneca College in Toronto, in the choir at Parkwoods United Church, or dominating the stage in plays and musicals put on by the local theatre group.

For decades, his rich and rumbling bass anchored the church choir. Admittedly, not all the choir directors appreciated his irreverent sense of humour or his boyish delight in puncturing balloons of pretension.

As a thespian, Bob starred in the play Inherit the Wind—the dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925—as the bombastic Matthew Harrison Brady. Although Brady’s theology was far from Bob’s own, Bob threw himself into the part with a passion that made Spenser Tracy look like a bumbling amateur.

Bob and I played rivals on stage, and became friends in life.

No one will ever be an understudy for Bob Scott.

And the old friend found again? That’s a longer story.

In 1971, I was sent to the impoverished African nation of Malawi, to help an ecumenical consortium of churches there develop print materials to help them solicit funds from European aid agencies. To learn about their work first hand, I was sent out in a station wagon with a driver, a photographer, and a young man named Sam Nazombe.

We slept on beaches under the stars, in borrowed beds, in stuffy tents. We tramped through shoulder-high grass to draw water from hidden springs and pumped water from deep boreholes. We hoed fields of vegetables, counted pills in ill-stocked medical clinics, and kicked soccer balls with shrieking school children.

Sam decided he wanted to be a journalist, like me. Two years later, he came to Canada for an apprenticeship of sorts.

The bewildered kid from Central Africa arrived in a snowstorm in January. He left in a snowstorm in April. During his three months in Canada, he never once saw a green leaf or blade of grass. But he wrote stories. He met other journalists. He boiled maple syrup in the bush. He rode a toboggan down a ravine.

After Sam returned to Malawi, we sent letters back and forth for about seven years. Then Sam vanished. I heard he had died.

Like singer Peggy Lee, I wondered, “Is that all there is?”

No, it isn’t. Sam’s son, Anthony, tracked me down through the Internet. Anthony now lives in Australia, with his wife and infant daughter. He wants to stay in touch with me.

It felt like a resurrection.

It confirms my conviction that relationships often last longer than the individuals who formed them. For good or ill, they will surface again, unexpectedly, unpredictably. And they will continue to affect lives.

Fare thee well, Bob. Welcome back, Anthony. To old friends, and new friends, l’chaim!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read