For months we’ve all hoped that Maurice would – somehow – beat the odds and pull through. How does one even begin to thank a recently departed for a lifetime of friendship with only a few words?
I’ve known Maurice for about 40 years. We met during a time when life was not especially easy for me. Maurice helped me with shelter, transportation and friendship. He was generous and didn’t keep score. I’ve always found him willing to help people if he could, and to do so with sincerity and humility. We had fun and got into a little trouble too. We took turns being the mature older brother, something neither of us were all that good at but we worked on it together.
Maurice was never a complainer, and I was too immature and self-absorbed at the time to realize it, but this was also a difficult time in his life too. I don’t think Maurice could ever make his peace with a universe that would snatch his dad away when it did. Like many of us, Maurice feared the pain of loss, or the fear of being the cause of such pain.
We met while working together at a camera store / studio / lab in New Minas, Nova Scotia. The store’s owner hired many eclectic and talented people, and many of them are accomplished photographers practicing to this very day.
Maurice was the best people photographer of the lot of us. He had a rare eye, one with a keen empathy for people. He could make people look the way they wanted to look, at a physical and emotional level. He treated everyone with dignity and decency in his work, even if he had never met them before, or after. Maurice could strike up a conversation with anyone. People sensed and appreciated his sincerity.
Maurice had a few jobs, but only one that might pass as a career. He was creative, and talented – very talented – at many things. He enjoyed building and fixing things. He could operate anything with a wheel or a stick, and loved doing so. Maurice’s approach to jobs, and life, was one of adventure. Adventure could be grand, from flying an airplane or scuba diving, or it could be road trip or even a trip to the coffee shop. He was entrepreneurial in his own way too. If he couldn’t afford adventure, he’d find a way to make himself useful, usually by teaching other people.
What he wasn’t especially good at was doing the same thing, the same way, in the same place all the time. These are skills that are often necessary to become a deeply specialized cog in the machine – an expert. He spoke his mind, sometimes to his own detriment. Unless you are a great politician, and Maurice was way too much of a straight shooter to be one, these things can hold you back.
The film industry was in many ways the ideal workplace for Maurice, and he did well in it. It’s one of the few industries where being good at many things, an out of the box thinker, effective in constantly changing circumstances, and having a bit of an issue with authority are all requirements for success.
Life has a way of pulling friends apart over time, entirely by accident. You get busy. Time passes. In the 30 or so years since Maurice and Lynn moved to the West Coast, they have never missed a Christmas with us. And we’ve logged more than 10,000 miles on our annual motorcycle drive with my daughter and a few other good friends. Wonderful times.
Maurice and Lynn were also here to help after our daughter was born, another wonderful but also difficult time for me.
Over the last 15 years, Maurice has made the odd comment about the film industry taking another friend. And not long after that I’d see an obituary on fb. I noticed that folks were often in their 50s, and died of heart attacks or strokes. As great a opportunity as the industry provided to him, I wonder if asks too much in return.
Goodbye my friend. To say you’ll be missed doesn’t even start to cover it.