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Friday, February 18, 2011

Debate: The dead have a right to speak

Debate: The dead have a right to speak

'Friends Not Forgotten'

There's no question there remains alot of mystic about the dead. It's time to get over it. The dead have been shrouded in mystery since the beginning of time and in every country, in very culture. Some say they can communicate with the dead from the other side -- note that 'the other side's' location is not clearly defined. I've always wondered about 'the other side' and today its location or geography remains very vague.

I recall certain incidents involving the dead when I was young. My father was well known in St. Stephen, NB and he had many, many friends. It seemed to me that he went to one funeral or another every week or so. From about the time that I was six years of age, my dad would ask if I was interested to tag along for an evening prayer service. This was my chance to introduce myself, say a few words quietly to the deceased and bid him or her adieu.

In the early stages of this custom, my father promised that the deceased would likely not rise up. At least, he said he had never seen it happen. That was good enough for me. His promise gave me solid assurance.

So, I got climatized to being around deceased persons from a very early age. And, as I grew, I did not feel particularily nervous. Mind you, there was alot of teasing among my pals about the degree of trust in the promises given to me by my father -- I did not, for example, volunteer to spend a night in the local cemetery. I loved my dad, but I knew my limits.

Over the past several years, I've been dedicated to finding and listing our deceased members of the Force in the National Database. Seems innocent enough and naturally I trusted all the volunteers to give me good data. In fact, I would be hard pressed to recall any mistakes or errors in the data given to me by our wonderful volunteers.

Well, maybe I can think of one case. Not long ago, I began to receive messages from a family in Alberta. Years ago, they had been friends with a member who had been posted to their town. They saw saw his name on the database and they felt very, very sad. The family told me about all their fond memories of the Vet and how he had almost become a member of their family. The daughters loved him. They even recalled his nickname. I accepted their condolences. Sad, I said, eh?

A few weeks later, I received a call from the 'deceased'.  He had been told that Healy had him listed dead. The 'deceased' Vet told me that he was truly not deceased but I had listed him listed in the database along with a photo of his grave marker. His conversation turned to humor and I was very grateful as I had not intended to offend him. Or, to scare his wife. I quickly deleted his name off the database.

I can react quickly for the presumed dead. But, in this case, I was actually speaking with a Vet whom I presumed was dead. Afterall, I had him listed. I had been sent his name plus the photo. Guess, the devil was messing around with me.

I called the family in Alberta. After a short story, I apologized for my error. They were generously relieved to be told that their friend was not deceased. I provided them with the Vet's phone number. They intended to renew their friendship.

In this case, I'm thankful the 'deceased ' spoke up. We've shook hands. He's as warm as a summer day.

Close call for me, eh?

'Maintain Our Memories'

J. J. Healy,

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Dear Friends,

Thank you for your note. Please be assured that I will reply, but some e-mails require a little more research and time or reflection. If your comment hinges on policy for graves, the e-mail may have to be referred to the RCMP for an authoritative response.

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Yours truly,