I hadn’t talked to Gillian Trumper for several years when I heard that she had died on Friday, Oct. 11th, and I was shamed and without excuse.
On countless occasions, I had reminded myself to give her a call “tomorrow.” Always tomorrow. Always. Never today, and ultimately, too late.
It wasn’t that we were great old friends. Just friends bonded by politics and journalism. We crossed paths via Alberni Valley connections where she served on the school board, and as a city council member, as Mayor, and for one term, as MLA. In fact, there were not many locally known committees or commissions Gillian Trump didn’t sit on and serve well.
Whether as the local coroner in a relatively small community where local tragedies quickly became family affairs or exchanging ideas with members of the Federal Advisory Council to the Law Commission of Canada, or chairing an Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District meeting, she made her mark.
There were half-a-dozen other local boards to which she took her personal brand of common sense and goodwill. A gracious lady, tough when she needed to be but high in the possession of the qualities writer Rudyard Kipling once said were required by people who would always stand tall among their fellow citizens.
Actually, when Kipling wrote his famous “IF” poem, he had men only in mind. His last line in the epic poem is “and what is more (if you acquire the attributes I recommend), you’ll be a man my son.” Were he still alive today I’m sure he would have heard from Gillian and others in the growing army of women who could firmly claim membership on his list of people, not just men, who could “keep their head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you … Or being lied about don’t deal in lies … Or being hated don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise … If you can dream and not make dreams your master; if you can think – and not make thoughts your aim.”
An imposing list that could be intimidating for many, but not to Gillian Trumper. She was always able to walk with crowds and keep her virtue; to talk with Kings but not lose the common touch.
She acquired most of those qualifications from a strong family life in her youth and the added strength of family built with husband Michael and their four children – Owen, Michael, Carolyn and Trish. If the family had an objective rule for problem-solving, it involved heavy doses of common sense. Just common sense quietly spoken, always recommended, never commanded. And mostly with a genuine, face-filled smile.
Already honoured years ago – named Citizen of the Year and granted the rare distinction of being granted Freedom of the City of Port Alberni, there is talk of a more permanent memorial to this lady of quality. I’m sure the suggestion list will be long. Maybe it could include a quiet corner of a smaller, easy-to-reach park where future generations could sit and remember where on Friday, October 11, 2019, in her 83rd year, a remarkable daughter, wife, mother, counsellor, lady, Gillian Trumper, found what poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) simply entitled – REST.
The travelling, the talking of problems and their solutions, is over. The last enemy can no longer pain or threaten. She rests now as Rossetti wrote:
“…..with stillness that is almost Paradise.
Darkness more clear than noonday holdeth her,
Silence more musical than any song;
Even her very heart has ceased to stir:
Until the morning of Eternity
Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
And when she wakes she will not think it long.”
And if this small tribute to a friend has prompted you to remember a phone call you should be making or quick note you should be writing – you’d better get on with it. Tomorrow could be too late.