Since you left Hutch, without so much as a goodbye, (I’m seriously still a bit mad about that), I have a few things to thank you for. It is a sad irony of life that one doesn’t say the good stuff until the people you care for are gone, so here is the good stuff Hutch. I know you’ll be reading this. You always read the paper from cover-to-cover right?
Do you remember when you were assigned as my student teacher and all I knew was a lawyer and a former pizza parlour owner wanted to teach school in Canmore? The day you walked into by Grade 2 classroom I already knew there was a side to you that could make Grade 2s howl with laughter.
The next day, you were assigned to teach the brand new metric system to seven year olds that barely knew the size of an inch. As you tiptoed in with a wig on your head and little girl apron tied high on your chest and told the class in a high squeaky voice that you were “Milli Metre, the smallest member of the metric family,” I knew we were in for a treat. As you changed clothes and wigs and worked your way up to Kilo Metre, the big granddad of the family, the kids and I were convulsed with laughter.
From that day forward no child in that class ever forgot one member of the metric family. Milli, Centi, Deca and Kilo were firmly etched in their tiny minds. And I? For the next 20 years, I taught the metric family exactly the same way you did Hutch, but in all honesty, it was never with the same “Lawrence Hutchings style.”
That was your gift Hutch, your gift to us all; your brilliant and sometimes irreverent sense of humour that always sent us away with a laugh. Yep, laughter is the best medicine and you gave out generous lashings to one and all.
Your love of acting and learning, and good books, and your immense joy in the delightful score of hundreds of “new” old books, brought the gift of reading to young and old alike, and especially to those of us who could not always pay $25 for a new book.
By the way Hutch, I saw you sneak more than a few free books to adults and kids you knew couldn’t afford more.
Best of all Hutch, you were the common man and I loved you for that. Rich, poor, humble, bombastic, you treated us all the same. You were the epitome of humility and quiet brilliance. How did you keep 1,000s of titles in your head, read the price with your one good eye, remind us we all had credit, give out a bit of legal advice, comment on a local politician, talk to your buddy Steve with only a look, and send us away with a laugh and a new visual of the love of your life… no, not Heath, but a coveted grandchild named Maile? Yes, you always shared your love.
And what about Heath? Oh yes, there was always a story about Heath, her latest golf score, the pride you had in her accomplishments, where you were traveling together and yes, we all knew, like you did, there would not be a Hutch without a Heath. We loved her too. You gave us that.
So I prefer to think that you are lying on a couch, with the people and the books you love surrounding you, and you have two good eyes and one heck of a smile on your face knowing you lived a rich and fruitful life and that best of all, you got to share it all with us.
We’ll be seeing you some day Hutch! In the meantime, keep the stacsk full for us.
And, like all the great people of Canmore that have passed this way, I will surely miss you!