Sunday, October 13, 2013

Golden Boy

I've known him half his life now.

And I am compelled to say that in the last 25 years he has never let me down; he has always been only a phone call away when I need him, my source for careful listening, wise counsel, and unquestioning comfort.

I've watched him come into his own, from a determined young man struggling to stay alive to a callow first-year law student tiptoeing into his initial vin ordinaire gathering; from a jubilant law school graduate to a harried articling student in an office where, if you crept in after hours with only the dim corridor light flickering, your heart would stop as you were confronted by a figure in a full coat of armour appearing ready to accost you; to the day when he had a launch party in his new 17th-Avenue digs, the ones where his name is listed first on the door; to the evening, earlier this year, when he gave me the grand tour of his beautiful home, and noting that what he was most excited about were the rooms for his kids.

I remember the days of eating steak sandwiches at Caruszo's and discussing the genius and humanity of Bruce Cockburn; working out guitar cords in the basement of Kathy Nichols' home; enjoying the sun and the view at Calgary Cannons baseball games; watching with gathering indignation the final episode of Seinfeld (really? we cut short our dinner for that?!); tasting (and admiring) the results of his new-found baking skills in the days when he was forced to adhere to a restricted diet; shopping for a black suit to go on articling interviews; breaking speed limits to find a clear spot where we could catch the last song of the Northern Lights; going to the law school grad banquet; feeling horror and gratitude a couple of days later when his car was totalled by a deer clearly not apprised of his new academic status.

Gary Kirk, it occurs to me that you are one of those rare people, completely true to yourself. You charted a course for your life and - against all odds, sometimes to the accompaniment of protest and discouragement - you have succeeded. You are healthy; you are wise; and you are a success - in your profession, with your children, and to your friends.

I've been thinking about you a lot these last couple of weeks, and I've been reading Mary Oliver. Her words have captured you like no feeble attempt I could write in tribute:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.

I am so proud of what you have accomplished - oh, not professionally necessarily, although it gives me great pride when I hear people say, "He's a really good lawyer ..."; but when I see how you have set the bar high for yourself and how you have been equal to every challenge thrown at you. 

You are a man of sterling character, of exceptional resilience, of uncanny acumen, of great good humour, of enormous heart.

So this October 12 especially I want to say Happy Birthday to a true friend. May these first 50 years pale in comparison to the success, joy and love I wish for you in the next 50!


  1. Happy 50th Gary. You have done so well!! You were a great neighbor and friend so happy to hear of your success.

  2. Our family friend, We love you and send our best wishes, thanks Karyn for this shared articale.

  3. That was worth waiting an extra day for! At a loss for words, as usual. Thank you, Karyn.


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