Robert Harnum – Rest In Peace

 Two boys, young 8 and 9 I believe. They were orphaned when their parents both died of TB in Newfoundland over 60 years ago. Their father was my grandmother George’s brother. They were my Dad’s first cousins. My father at the time was a young man caring for his parents (Pop had Beriberi) and his younger sister. He took the boys into his home and raised them to adulthood.


Sam and Robert were brothers. They were left parentless together. They went to work together, they had fun together, they had homes together (just across the brook from each other), they fought cancer together, and indeed in the past 18 months – they have died together.  


Today is a sad day for the family. But Robert’s battle these past weeks has not been easy. While all of us who knew and loved him are saddened and hurting, we have to be thankful that his suffering is over.


When I was a young lad we used to still have what we called “times” in the old church hall which was the one room school. “Are you going to ‘the time’ tonight?” you might say to your neighbour. One year, before the old school was removed, we had ‘a time’ on New Year’s Eve. I had a fairly new stereo – dual cassette deck – it was a classic. It was all set then, I would play the dance. I remember it well. All of the couples of Whiteway were there. What I can see today in my mind’s eye is Robert and Isabelle at ‘the time.’ I can still see him really having a great time. Enjoying a drink, a laugh and a dance. Robert had a great laugh – it was unmistakeable. There was lots of laughter that night.


These last months have not brought a lot of any of that. April 22, 2006 marked Isabelle and Robert’s 49th wedding anniversary. My family were gathered for my nephew’s wedding on that day. Isabelle was holding her husband’s hand in the hospital as he lay slowing dying. They were living out their marriage covenant. They were loving each other always, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. We only wished they could have been with us at ‘the time’ we were having.


I know that saying goodbye is hard to do. I had to say goodbye to Robert in April. I shall pray in thanksgiving for all that Robert was to his family, to my family and to his community. I know that he no longer is held slave to cancer but can now enjoy in fullness and in joy dancing and laughing and singing at the Great ‘time.’ At that ‘time,’ Robert is reunited with his brother Sam and his mother and father. We have lost but Robert has gained his freedom and reward. We can be certain that God sure knows how to plan a ‘time’ like no other. We still live in the glow of Easter – and by extension the glow of the promise of the resurrection. While we have lost our friend, we have to give thanks for the resurrection and pray for that time when we will be reunited with our brothers and sisters where every tear will be wiped away.   


To his children, Donna, Leonard and Trudy and to their families – please accept my deepest regrets and condolences. You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time.  Robert will be missed.

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