• ambrosia,  music,  poetry

    how to say

    Listen to Glenn’s poem, “How to Say,” set to music by Jeff Enns and sung by Jennifer Enns-Modolo, with Loren Shalanko at the piano:

    How to say
    (May 24, 2009)

    The way to say “I love you” to someone
    is to say “I love you” to that person
    This has come to my attention
    recently
    “I love you” means “I love you”
    and merits
    being said
    to the person
    for whom you feel that love

    Various gestures and clipped phrases
    do not
    actually
    say “I love you”

    As lovely as a home-cooked casserole
    or cheque for some needed money
    or gift certificate for an indulgence
    is
    and is loving, nurturing, caring

    It is not the same as saying
    “I love you”
    it is not

    “Love ya”’ or “You’re my girl”
    or “You’re the best wife, mother, daughter”
    or some Hallmark equivalent
    is
    nice and perhaps true

    But it is not the same as saying
    “I love you”

    Do not mistake a gesture for the
    declaration of love
    nor heavy sentiment for its
    clear articulation

    Do not misjudge the brevity
    of our existence
    in missing the opportunity to say
    “I love you”

    Nor misjudge the simplicity of the
    clear statement
    with empty blathering, over-repetition
    to meaninglessness

    Do not wait until your voice has dried
    and your sunken eyes
    mournfully cry “I love you”

    Do not wait until your deathbed
    or someone else’s

    Do not give expression to love
    in the heat of passion
    nor as an act of contrition

    Like any real gift, give expression
    freely, under no duress,
    with no sense of obligation
    or awkward burden

    Tell all those that you love
    that you love them
    not just your spouse, your lover,
    your beloved

    Tell them now or certainly soon

    Say to each person that you truly love,
    where your mutual love
    is a bond beyond
    the nature of an ordinary relationship,

    “I love you”

    For the only way to do this
    I know
    The only way to say “I love you” to someone
    is to say “I love you”


  • ambrosia,  poetry,  prose

    I am Keats as you are: a young physician’s journey to final enlightenment

    Glenn Peirson walked boldly and compassionately in this world, blazing new pathways, dreaming new dreams into being, and main- taining beautiful relationships. The complications of cancer treat- ment suddenly claimed him in November, 2009, after a three year heroic battle. His deepest devotion was to his God and his family: his exceptional soul-mate, Dr. Mary Peirson; his twelve year old daughter, Theodora; and his nine year old son, Henry.

    Glenn was born in Kingston, Ontario, and raised in Guelph. He was a scholar, athlete, musician, spiritual giant, poet, gardener and great lover of the Land of Narnia. Before he completed secondary school, he was admitted on scholarship to the University of Guelph. During this time he was tenor soloist at Metropolitan United Church in Toronto. He received research grants, in particular, an NSERC grant in brain laterality and music. He was the Winegard Gold-Medalist at his convocation.

    Glenn went immediately from his studies to McMaster Medical School in Hamilton, Ontario. In the entire period of medical school and residency, he sang with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Or- chestra’s Chamber Choir, Toronto. Glenn also created practicums that took him to Moose Factory and further north, to Kapsowar in Kenya, and to St. Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. It was in his residency at McMaster that he met and fell in love with Mary Beingessner, who had studied medicine at the University of Toronto. They married in 1991, in their final year of residency and while Glenn was Chief Resident. In 1992, they spent two months in Malaysia, running a preventative medicine research project they had designed.

    Glenn and Mary moved to Guelph in 1994. Mary established her career in public health medicine. Glenn worked as a palliative care physician, a community health centre physician and, in 1999, estab- lished a private practice in Cambridge, near Guelph. He was also the Addictions physician at Stonehenge Therapeutic Community. He maximized a life-style that included time for his highly cher- ished home-life, his music, his faith and finally his writing. He was a founding member of Tactus Vocal Ensemble, and a wine and spa writer for North American Inns magazine.

    Finding and encouraging artistic gifts in children was a great joy for Glenn. His children have participated abundantly in the Guelph Youth Singers, Operetta Camp, the Kiwanis Festival and the South- ern Ontario Suzuki Institute’s summer program at Laurier Univer- sity. He was a vital member of Dublin Street United Church in Guelph, relishing it as a spiritual community for his family and as a place of spiritual growth and healing for all who attended. Our friend Evelyn once said, “Dublin Church is the platform for the ar- ticulation of Glenn’s soul.”

    Glenn’s spirit continues to be strong. As he said, with a gentle touch, to every patient at the end of an appointment: “Be well.”

    website: physicianmusician.com

  • ambrosia,  poetry

    cancerwords compulsion

    Poetry is the only way to touch upon the experience of cancer. It is also the only way to find the beauty in the beastliness. And for me, it was the only way to express my grief and allow healing into my life. Grief is a many-layered thing. It unfolds and refolds away from and over itself multitudinous times and in varying manifestations. To say that grief will fade away is misleading. To say that it will ameliorate and become an acceptable part of the griever’s psyche is a truth… as long as the griever intentionally grieves.   Because grief begins with the diagnosis and because so much of my experience of watching a loved one suffer was beyond words, I set out on my intentional grief journey through writing.

    cancerwords is a record of Glenn Peirson’s three year battle with a rare sinus cancer. Glenn, diagnosed at stage 4, did his elegant utmost to stay here for his wife and children, the joys of his life. As mother of this remarkable man for all seasons, I was seized by a need to write poetry and take photos on my prayer-walks. These two disciplines became my prayer forms. For me, they reached through the madness to a silence where pain is transformed into resilience. And I was sustained. And I was enabled to be what Glenn, Mary, Theodora and Henry needed me to be.

    It is my hope that this book will speak to others, particularly parents. For when the death-order is violated by an intruder, it is almost too much for a parent to bear. I learned that I could survive what I had always said I couldn’t. I learned that I will never cease to be wondrously proud of and inexplicably connected to my son in whatever dimension he happens to be. And I learned that artistry, which resides, I believe, in the imagination, is the soul of healing.

    There is a way for everyone. This is mine.

  • ambrosia,  music,  poetry,  prose

    I am Keats as you are by glenn

    To suggest that Glenn Peirson was indefatigable would be an enormous understatement, for he retained his trademark sense of wry humour to the end of his days. “Please understand,” he wrote a few months prior to his death, “the tall, hooded fellow with the black robe and boney fingers and long sickle isn’t hanging around me. He might be in the other room, but I would just as soon find him and throw him out of the house head first . . . ” And again, just nine weeks prior to his death, he ended a note to family and friends with this marvellous perspective on life and living: “Until we next communicate, we wish you the same revelry in life’s many unsplendoured and often-overlooked day-to-day jewels.”One of Glenn Peirson’s many friends is Howard Dyck, a noted Canadian conductor and former CBC Radio host. He wrote of his accomplished friend: “He was a rare one, was Glenn, a perfect blend of saint, clown, philosopher, pixie, artist, scholar. All of us who were privileged to know him are immeasurably richer for having walked with him.” I am Keats as you are is Glenn Peirson’s parting gift.