Hodge: Time to start digging in the garden

Not only is Easter a chance to visit with family and friends, but also the opportunity to turn some turf.

I contemplated crafting a rousing and titillating column with an April Fools Day flavour, but I decided when it comes to an April’s fool there was no way I could beat Donald Trump.

Besides, I waxed on profusely last year recalling some of the best media inspired April fools pranks in recent memory.

I am confident nothing will ever beat ‘metric time,’ or creating the myth that downtown Kelowna was built on a thin, narrow shelf of land poised at any moment to slip into Okanagan Lake.

Therefore, this year I will leave any such fun tomfoolery to other ink stained wretches.

I do admit, however, feeling euphoric over the calendar flip and recent warm weather indicating spring has finally sprung.

Easter has always marked a special time of year for me aside from the religious connotations.

Not only is it a chance to visit with family and friends, but also the opportunity to dig out the gardening equipment and turn some turf.

As I write this, Tez is busy in the yard prepping the ground for a bundle of newly purchased raspberries. Can summer be far away?

Of course, Easter is way more fun when one is blessed with having a six-year-old granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren, ages two and three, who believe in the Easter Bunny and relish the goodies said bunny brings.

Tez and I maintain the greatest joy of being grandparents is being able to stuff the offspring’s offspring full of candy and covered in chocolate, and then send them home to mom to clean up.

Unfortunately, this year the joys of Easter were somewhat dampened by the loss of three wonderful influences in my life.

Like many, I was saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Kelowna icon Ben Lee.

Volumes have already been written about the many marvelous contributions to our community that Ben unselfishly bestowed.

Ben not only served on Kelowna city council for more than two decades, he was a leader in multicultural awareness and events, a consummate community man, well-loved school teacher, artist, and overall a top-shelf human being.

It is a special sort of man that has the ability to silence a room by merely walking in.

Last year, Ben quietly entered the city council chambers part way through a meeting and despite his humble entry, Mayor Colin Basran noticed his arrival and paused during his commentary long enough to acknowledge Lee’s presence.

Such a scenario has rarely if ever happened before or since in the council chambers, a gesture that reflected the respect Mr. Lee garnered.

There are simply not enough superlatives to properly acknowledge the value Ben had in our community.

I was also deeply struck with grief last week at the passing of another remarkable human being.

Mike Motschko was never a city counsellor or a high-rolling business person, however he was a tremendous inspiration and motivation for many who knew him.

Mike had a heart of gold, a quick wit, and a calm reassuring presents.

I had the pleasure of knowing Mike since elementary school.

Though our paths seldom crossed, there was always an affinity and respect for one another.

Last year while hospitalized with pneumonia, which significantly impacted my emphysema, it was Mike who was my greatest inspiration to battle through it.

He was stuck in the next bed to me at KGH and it was apparent even then that he was struggling with cancer.

Mike was never willing to concede he was in trouble, instead choosing to focus positive energy not only on himself but everyone else as well.

Shortly after I was assigned to his room in a groggy state from medication, Mike contacted my wife to let her know I was safe and sleeping in the room next to him.

Mike knew full well Tez was worried and not aware whether I was out of emergency or not. That was the kind of sensitive and caring man he was.

During the next week of my hospital recovery, Mike and I shared many chuckles and tall tales, while also sharing quietly a few of our fears.

I will never forget your kindness and strength Mike. Bless you and your family.

On a far less tragic but still sad scenario, Kelowna also said goodbye this week to the old Paramount Theatre on Bernard Avenue.

As a kid growing up in Kelowna, the Paramount was the only theatre in town.

Like thousands of other youngsters, I saw my first movie in that old building, complete with luminous wall lights with fish designs on them, rickety old seats and the best popcorn in town.

My mind reels recalling numerous youthful dates and special evenings at the Paramount Theatre over the years. I shall miss the grand old building as will many others.

On a positive note, Kelowna gains two new wonderful residents this spring with the arrival of Dan and Louise McGauley.

The McGauleys, among their many other claims to fame, owned and later operated the bed-and-breakfast at the infamous Blaylock Mansion in Nelson for the past two decades.

I am not sure how Blaylock Mansion will possibly survive without their tremendous hospitality skills, charming personalities, quick wit and hard work.

What I do know is that Nelson’s loss is Kelowna’s gain. Welcome Dan and Louise.


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