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The Island Way

A funeral at the Kirk the other day caused me to ponder on our traditions of respecting the dead and sharing our sympathy with the living. Traditions run deep in this Island. We go to wakes. We go to funerals. We go to funerals in bodies when it is someone who worked with us - or even if it's a close member of their family who died. We send food. We stop at the side of the road and wait until a funeral passes by. We're closely knitted about funerals.

Traditions have changed. For instance we have very few wakes at home now. We don't hang flowers on the families' house anymore and we have not worn black arm bands for a long time. We do carry pain in our hearts, though.

"Lord God Almighty, before whose face the generations rise and pass away..." When one spends so much time on Island history and genealogy, it is hard not to see each celebration of a life in the connection of family and community.

Bill Burnett whose funeral I attended at the Kirk on Friday had a name that was synonymous with the Guardian for all the days when we were growing up. At the beginning The Guardian was routed in Presbyterianism - and Conservatism. It's first issue was on December 16, 1890. J.E.B. McCready took it over in 1896 and then with a little pause the Burnetts took it on.

Bill's father became editor in 1912 and from then until the Thomson family took over in 1954, the Burnett family played the major role in directing the editorial comment of The Guardian and directed it well. Through those years they were supported by Frank Walker, Ellen's Diary, F. H. MacArthur, Neil Matheson, Agricola, and on and on.

My tradition is strong in reading the Guardian every morning without fail - even tho' my mother , a dyed in the wool Liberal would, in our house, not go to bed without reading the Patriot - the "Liberal" paper. It was so bad that if she needed to put papers on the floor for some reason or other, they would NEVER be the Patriot.

I don't believe an Islander can be a true blue [that is a bit of a pun] without reading the Guardian and I have enjoyed my relationship with so many of their players - Bill Hancoxs, Gus Flynn, Audrey Jenkins, Lorne Yeo, Walter O'Brien, Bill Ledwell, Walter McIntyre and now Gary MacDougall and his crowd. I know from personal experiences that The Guardian does cover the Island like the dew!!!

Written Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 09:44 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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