"Death don't have no mercy in this land.
Well he'll come to your house, but he won't stay long.
Look in the bed and somebody'll be gone." Gary Davis
Death don't have no mercy in this town. It's a constant visitor, capriciously and uncaringly ending dreams of glory, turning holidays into nightmares, good times into bad, plans into memories. It takes young and old alike, fit and flabby, pure-adrenaline adventurer and timidly cautious. It strikes suddenly and it lingers in shadows, torturing its victims like a cat with a mouse.
It's easy, sometimes, to shrug it off, like a cold you hope you won't get, but you know sooner or later it will get you or someone close to you. Partly that's because people come and go in Whistler; the landscape of faces change as often as the seasons.
If you live here long enough your memory begins to play tricks with you, blending all the faces and names of the people who have come and gone into a slow moving river of familiar obstacles and unknown dangers. "Oh, that guy," you vaguely remember when someone mentions a name. When did I know him? Last season? Ten years ago? So many people; so few who stick out.
Kinda like the night sky. One of the pleasures of the autumn shoulder season, especially on a day when the snow lets me down by not falling, is gazing at the stars in the night sky. After a summer of still-light sky late at night, autumn's early and deep darkness opens up the Milky Way's infinity of shimmering lights amid inky blackness once again.
Getting lost in that vastness is particularly easy up in the Cariboo where no light intrudes. The sky is velvet and the stars are blinding. Yet, in the millions of shining lights, a few stand out. Sirius, Orion's big dog's nose, shines brightest. Arcturus isn't far behind. Vega, Rigel, Betelgeuse, a few other's whose names I can recall, jump out of the pack and draw my attention.
Same with people. Some burn brighter, last longer, make a greater impression. Become a beacon for another form of navigation, a touchstone for how to live your life.
But death don't have no mercy and one of those lights stopped shining late last week. Whistler lost its Nana.
Lil Goldsmid — Nana G, or less formally simply Nana — died Friday. Efficient to the end, she "shuffle'd off this mortall coil" to see what dreams may come only hours after being told palliative care was the only option left for her tired heart. No one was going to accuse Lil of being a layabout, even in death.
Certainly no one accused her of it in life. Tireless fails to begin to describe this human dynamo. I didn't know Lil when she was working alongside Howard in the butcher shops, didn't know her when she was B.C. downhill skiing champ, didn't know her when she was raising Leslee and Bruce and living life between Vancouver and Whistler in those early years when driving up for the weekend was high adventure.