Five Years On – Ernie’s Gift
Cathy McNally writes on the fifth anniversary of Ernie McNally's death. Ernie was a much loved man who led many programs at The Haven. As well as people, Ernie loved cars, as the photo shows!
Friday March 1st 2019 marks five years since my dearest Ernie died. It is hard to believe. I have been wondering how to mark this date. A few days ago, I came across a handwritten ‘quote’ from him that I haven’t seen before. It warmed my heart. As I was re-reading it, it struck me that this is the message to share. From him to you, to me, to all. Yet another gift from this lovely man.
The day after I found it, I attended a workshop on storytelling. We were invited to select a ‘story’ from a collection of photocopied short stories on a table. “Although you might discover that the story selects you!” the workshop leader added with a smile. I scanned the stories quickly and was drawn to several before seeing the name “A Drum.” That was clearly mine. (Ernie again.)
We were asked to take the stories home and read them before arriving next morning. In the morning, I was stuck by the simple beauty of the story and its message of ‘kindness.’ This was a hugely important part of life for Ernie. How perfect. I smiled and decided I would like to discover who the writer of the story was. So I went to my computer.
As the mystery unfolded my heart began to beat faster and my eyes prickle with tears. I could not believe it … Margo McLoughlin. I know her. We (Ernie and I) met her, loved her stories and her drum, and her wonderful voice and presence as a truly gifted ‘storyteller.’ Oh my! She was Mark Nepo’s invited guest at the workshops Ernie and I attended with this talented and very personal writer, poet, and teacher. She and Mark ‘danced’ together in the weaving of magic, space, love and humanity.
Later in the day at the workshop I shared this ‘story-about-the-story’ with this group of no-longer-strangers; their listening was yet more kindness.
Closing the loop on this journey, in the storytelling workshop one participant asked about the ethics of personalizing a story when telling it (along with honouring the source). Ernie’s quote speaks to this. He wrote:
There is nothing “new.”
Creativity is finding
a unique assembly
& expression of what
What I hear is him encouraging each of us to express ourselves, fully, without holding back. Even if we think “others have said it before,” maybe they have, but your voice is new. Do it anyway. Give your gift anyway.
Since he died, I have never stopped hearing from people that Ernie visits them in various ways, shows up in their dreams, comes to mind at the ‘perfect time,’ and so on. Although he did not want to die, he told me – with his eyes wide and a big smile on his face – that the one uplifting thought was “Then I’ll be able to love everyone, and be with everyone all at the same time!”
His face, sharing this joyful thought, comes to me over and over in my life.
I am so grateful to have known and witnessed such loving and kindness.
May you find something in this story, or in your own stories, of kindnesses, caring, creativity and magic. May you love well and not miss a moment. May you step into life and really live it.
Wishing you blessings and joy,