My mother, bless her kind and gracious soul, used to pull out some real pearls of wisdom when needed.
One of her favourites was, “Behind every cloud there is a silver lining.”
I use to think that was corny. Today, so many years later, I find myself spouting off the same lines on a regular basis.
I often pull on her words of wisdom and strength when the chips are down, when I reflect on things both past and, well, not so past, like the recent local municipal election.
It’s been two months now since voters booted six former council members, one of which was me, out of office. The large majority of sting and self-pity has faded away for me.
Enough at least to write about it with some open-minded thoughts.
When I decided to run for re-election, I naturally began to rally supporters to help with my campaign.
I’ve never been a fancy Dan, a big money man, or a card carrying member of the elite groups or ‘Who’s Who’ social clubs around town. However, I’m very blessed in having a huge number of friends.
I did not amass a large crew of campaign workers. In fact, my team of workers probably numbered no more than a dozen, but they represented a large demographic of our community.
Grant spent hours on my website and waved signs at polling stations in the freezing cold.
Lifetime best buddies Curtis and Jim helped out with entertainment, sign production and strategy.
Lucille handled the college crowd and helped with rally events.
Wanda did my financial books. Kenny, Pete (and his family and friends) and a couple others went door to door to hundreds and hundreds of homes delivering flyers.
The list goes on. It was humbling and yet incredibly inspiring. I will never forget their kindness and willingness to help.
I probably feel worse for the loss because of their work than I do for my own letdown. They deserved a better result.
And of course my wife Teresa was the overall number one supporter.
However, the person I will never forget was a total stranger who became a lifelong friend. I call him ‘The Hammer.’
His efforts and dedication will stick in my mind to my grave.
The Hammer is a street person. To some he’s perceived as one of our “homeless bums.” It is not an accurate assumption, but then Hammer couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the labelling by others.
He is use to it—even though it is not accurate.
The Hammer has a home. It’s called Kelowna. But he does not have a house.
He lost his home many years ago when his job ended and shortly after so did his wife.
He fell into a tailspin then and shortly after became extremely physically ill.
He was hospitalized and quarantined for six months before finally having the strength and health to return to the world.
When he was finally ready to return physically, he had no mental desire any more. He’d been kicked one too many times to play the game again.
The Hammer has lived on the street, sleeping in alleys, tents, or wherever for the past couple of years.
He has a small inheritance and so does not live off the system.
He does not collect welfare or any money from the government or taxpayer, instead making a living doing odd jobs here and there and collecting bottles.
I met him through my buddy Jim.
Over a few conversations I got to know him better.
Because of my own health issues, I needed some help putting up my campaign signs, so I asked Hammer if he would like to earn a bit of cash helping me.
He agreed, saying that: “I have no use for politicians, but you seem like an OK guy so I will give it a whirl.”
For the better part of six weeks we spent a lot of time together driving around town hammering in signs and later taking them down.
I’d drive, he’d hammer. Then we handed out campaign brochures together.
During that process we talked a lot—and laughed just as much. We shared stories, swapped lies and had a lot of fun in the cold, lousy weather.
The Hammer opened my eyes a whole bunch and I’d like to think I did the same for him.
He spent several hours as well waving signs outside advance polls during the election.
On election day, Hammer voted for the first time in his life—and he did so proudly.
We got a lot of strange looks from folks over the course of that six weeks and neither one of us really cared.
We became buddies. Few folks have ever helped me as much in my life as The Hammer.
So, when all is said and done, I may have lost an election but I gained some wonderful lessons and insight. And a new friend.
To every cloud there truly is a silver lining. Hammer is one of them for me.
Bless you Hammer.