Father’s Day: Ode to a Partner

He was merely curious, at first.

He wanted to meet the girl who had the guts to have led the first high school student sit-in in Canada.

He was merely curious.

He went to the dance held by the Waffle (before it was kicked out of the NDP) and was introduced to her. Slightly annoyed, he saw she was with some guy.

He decided to ask for her number. 

He was curious.

He and the girl had dinner at his place.  Then they went up to his lavender-painted room. From that day on they were an item.

He was not cautious. 

He knew she had walked out on the first groom on the day of their wedding.  She had simply never showed up.  Her father had boasted they’d all had a good party without her. Her father had warned at the next wedding, there would be no expensive French champagne and no caviar—only Andrés Baby Duck champagne, and fare from Shopsy’s delicatessen.  Her father was true to his word.

Still the partner did not back out.

Even when her father took him aside just before the wedding to say, “She’s my problem, but she doesn’t have to be yours.” The partner only shook his head and smiled.

Even after she suffered a traumatic injury, a long hospitalization, and a dismal prognosis, still the partner stayed, visited twice a day and urged her never to lose hope.

Even years later, when he himself fell seriously ill, he did not despair.  Because she was there for him.  The only thing he wanted was for her to get an education and a secure career in case worse came to worst.

She did that – twenty years after dropping out of her first degree, she earned two degrees, and got a job as a university professor.  In part so he wouldn’t worry.

Larry Haiven at Humboldt University in Berlin. “The philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways.The point, however, is to change it.” Karl Marx

With the ups and downs of child-rearing, he was there.  He never found the two sons a burden, or too much to handle.  And for two years, while she studied abroad, he had to raise them alone.

He never minimized his partner, or put her down.  He never tried to compete with her. He never blamed her for things that went wrong for them.  His trust was limitless.

He wanted –more than she ever wanted – her to succeed.  Canada’s People’s Poet, Milton Acorn’s famous poem, You Growing, sums up what he wanted and continues to want for her.

"Wherever you are be fearless;
And wherever I am I hope to know
You're moving vivid beyond me,
so I grow by the strength 
of you fighting for yourself, many selves,
your life, many lives... your people." 

Her partner made it all possible for her to do exactly that.


Featured Image: Janet Cardiff, Forty‑Part Motet , 2001. 40‑track audio installation, installation dimensions variable. Larry and I heard it years ago when it was installed outside Ottawa City Hall. Now it is at the National Gallery of Canada and you can listen to 3 minutes of the motet here. (credit: National Gallery of Canada).


  1. Hi Judy,

    This is lovely – I`m sure Larry was touched by your very fine tribute. Lucky that you both have found a wonderful partner in each other.

    Judy, some weeks ago I wrote a somewhat longish email to you after I hear Max interviewed on the CBC radio Sunday morning program by Pia C. It was a terrific interview and Max spoke so well – he is very articulate. I enjoyed learning about his book “Palm Oil – Grease of Empire” – quite fascinating. There have been others writing about the downside of palm oil recently as well. You must be very proud of him. In any case I never heard back from you with I thought was strange so I searched my SENT Box and couldn’t find the email. I think it got lost with all my other emails. Dealing with my email is frequently overwhelming!

    I trust you are both well and enjoying all your advocacy activities.

    Warm wishes,



  2. a tribute wrapped in hours…minutes…and seconds of a life well lived together. Time that continues to roll into that shared fervour for justice and better tomorrows !


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