March 6, 2020
Thirty years ago today, my Dad went to meet his Lord. He was just 59 years old.
Paul was born January 4, 1931 in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. His full name was Paul Innis Gallant; by those initials, you will quickly discern that his mother was illiterate.
Paul was raised by his grandfather, who in the classic terminology was a “tough old S.O.B.” You know the type: When Dad came home crying after being beaten up on his first day of school, the old man let him know he had better learn to take care of himself, or he’d get it worse at home. Or there was the time that grandpa Cormier, who was legally blind, was attacked by a bunch of twelve year old boys. What they didn’t know was that he could see shadows, and he laid a good licking on them with his cane.
The family was a familiar sort of devout-not-devout Roman Catholic one where nobody goes to church except on Christmas and Easter, but God forbid you go a different religious direction (when my Dad converted, his aunt told him to get out of her house).
Growing up, my Dad was not exactly the studious type. The teachers used to get him out of their hair by sending him out to get them cigarettes (these were the 1930s and 1940s, okay?). Eventually, he ran away at 14, having achieved a grade three education. He was functionally illiterate in those years; he used to say that he “had a hard time with a Donald Duck book.”
After a rough and tumble life as pretty much a hobo, in 1958, Dad was in the southern U.S. It was winter, and from what I recall of the story, he went in to sort sort of church service to warm up. I’m sure he heard something of the gospel there, but he didn’t really indicate so.
It was the next day on the highway (Dad was an inveterate hitchhiker) that it all went down.read more »