The amazing Ron Harris by lifemate


									Guelph Mercury ❙ Saturday, March 28, 2009 ❙ HERE, E2

                                                                                                                                                                         Dear Ellie

                                                                                                                                                     Yes, you’re hurt,
                                                                                                                                                     but try to proceed
                                                                                                                                                     as caring parents
                                                                                                                                                     Q.       Our son, 33, and his fiancée just informed
                                                                                                                                                             us we’re not invited to their city hall wed-
                                                                                                                                                     ding. They’re only having two friends stand up
                                                                                                                                                     for them.
                                                                                                                                                        We’re crushed and cannot understand nor ac-
                                                                                                                                                     cept this decision. We’ve told them both we’re
                                                                                                                                                     thrilled for them, but totally hurt.
                                                                                                                                                        Please tell us what we can do or should we do
                                                                                                                                                     to persuade them otherwise. There’s no urgency
                                                                                                                                                     for their choice and finances aren’t an issue.

                                                                                                                                                     A.      You’ve said how you feel, now proceed as
                                                                                                                                                             caring parents rather than as hurt, unin-
                                                                                                                                                     vited guests.
                                                                                                                                                        If there’s some reason they’re not giving —
                                                                                                                                                     such as a desire or need to exclude her parents or
                                                                                                                                                     other relatives, you’d like to know in order to un-
                                                                                                                                                     derstand their decision or help find another solu-
                                                                                                                                                     tion. Otherwise, they have a right to marry in any
                                                                                                                                                     manner or place they wish; you have a right to be
                                                                                                                                                        How you move forward is what matters. The
                                                                                                                                                     couple may’ve wanted to distance themselves
                                                                                                                                                     from the influence of family That can be a wise
     Ron Harris, 93, a doctor of homeopathic medicine and a retired teacher, gave up most of his worldly possessions                                 start for newlyweds, without meaning disrespect.
     to travel the world assisting people in need. He recently returned to Waterloo after spending two months in India.                                 You can ask if they’ll consider a small recep-
                                                                                                                                                     tion after their civil ceremony If not, wish them
                                                                                                                                                     well and toast their happiness at the next chance.

         The amazing Ron Harris                                                                                                                      Q.       I recently got back with my ex-boyfriend
                                                                                                                                                             of one-and-a-half years; he’d been out of
                                                                                                                                                     work then recently found a job with much oppor-
                                                                       he knew, remarkable given he had not been in India for                        tunity; but I feel threatened because he wanted to
        Waterloo senior is devoted                                     years and even then only for a short stay  .                                  hire an ex- girlfriend (and former business part-
                                                                           “They worshipped him there,” she said.                                    ner) from the time when we broke up.
        to helping others                                                  Harris was born in England and met his wife, Joan,                           I said I’d not be secure enough in our relation-
                                                                       there just before the Second World War. They felt a con-                      ship if they were working together again. A week
        By Valerie Hill, Record staff                                  nection but once he had shipped out for military service,                     later, he said, “We’re breaking up now because
                                                                       all contact was lost.                                                         she starts work tomorrow.”
        WATERLOO – Last fall, propelled by a renewed sense                 Then, in 1964, Joan was working in a youth hostel                            The next morning he called to say he dreamt
        of energy Ron Harris left his Waterloo home for the last       and happened to be atop a ladder, paint pan in hand,                          about me being with another man, couldn’t sleep,
        time, carrying only a few possessions. By January he                                                                .
                                                                       when Harris wandered in looking for a place to stay He                        and that he and that woman agreed they’d be
        was in India touring hospitals, schools and ashrams,           was shocked to see Joan there, but not as shocked as she                      strictly business partners. Am I crazy for want-
        providing financial support and homeopathic care to            was and he wound up covered in paint. It was love at                          ing to continue to be with him and believe him?
        the needy Now, after two months of non-stop travel, he         first drenching and the couple, both widowed at the                           He’s never done anything where I couldn’t trust
        has returned to Waterloo and his homeopathic practice.         time, got married almost immediately     .                                    him.
           He’s living with friends and has one foot out the door,         They moved to Alberta in 1967 when Harris was of-                            How can I ensure it’s strictly business between
        eager to embark on his next great adventure.                   fered a job there as a science teacher. Canada seemed                         them?
           Ron Harris is 93.
           “On the 22nd of November, I disconnected my tele-
        phone and walked out with six shirts and six pants,”
                                                                       less appealing after Harris witnessed the brutal murder
                                                                       of a native man, however, so the two left the province,
                                                                       riding bicycles to Montreal where they purchased an old
                                                                                                                                                     A.       There are no guarantees, only actions.
                                                                                                                                                             Give him a chance without hounding him
                                                                                                                                                     with questions or making wrong assumptions if
        he recalled during an interview. He told himself, “I’ll be     car and toured North America before catching a                                he works late. If you monitor too closely and act
        like a gypsy he said.                                          freighter to India, with a side trip to Vietnam.                                                ,
                                                                                                                                                     from insecurity you risk pushing him away     .
           Harris is a slight man, straight and quick. He ap-              In India, they opened a youth hostel in the Himalayas                        However, his statement about “breaking up”
        pears to be at least 30 years younger than his age. If         where they stayed until the place was flooded. Canada                         because he hired this woman was insensitive.
        there is a fountain of youth, he has gulped its waters,        beckoned again, this time Nova Scotia where they                              Though he corrected himself, let him know (gen-
        but like his hero Gandhi, he remains modest, interested        opened a hostel and campground. They moved to Water-                          tly) that this situation of his working closely with
        only in what he can do for others. When he visited a new       loo in 1989 and they ran an 18-bedroom                                        an ex requires delicacy and sensitivity from all
        facility for orphans and one for handicapped children in       student building attached to their                                            three of you.
        India, he left them with substantial financing. And at         home.
        schools he set up $500 and $1,000 scholarships in the              Joan died in July 2007 and Har-
        name of his deceased wife, Joan Harris.
           Harris also proved to be a clever problem solver. At
        Sri Rakum School for the Blind he suggested that rather
                                                                       ris began planning the next stage
                                                                       of his life, donating the house to
                                                                       Wilfrid Laurier University for
                                                                                                                                                     Q.      Whenever we go to our cottage — even for
                                                                                                                                                             just a weekend — my wife ends up creating
                                                                                                                                                     a busy social calendar for us.
        than donation dollars be applied for staff to care for resi-   use by international students.                                                   I just want to escape into a book or do my own
        dents, siblings of the students could offer the same care          At a time in life when                                                    thing. I need some down time from work pres-
        in exchange for an education. As well, he set up a pro-        most people cling to                                                          sures but she’ll start inviting a crowd over, so that
        gram where anyone in the world could have their birth-         the accumulations of                                                          I have to get involved. How can I stop her from
        day celebrated at the school, and watch the event via the      their life, Harris is                                                         taking over what’s supposed to be our free time?
        internet, in return for a donation of $20.
           ”I got the message out to all my patients, all over the
        world,” Harris said. “We raised $17,000.”
                                                                       shedding every-
                                                                       thing material.
                                                                           “I feel very hap-
                                                                                                                                                     A.       Our free time means she wants your
                                                                                                                                                              company too. Take your nose out of the
                                                                                                                                                     book and do something together. For the rest of
           At his side during the interview was Bhagyavathy            py he said.
                                                                          ,”                                                                         the time, negotiate ahead.
        Patel, a Burlington obstetrics nurse and former stroke             “I feel at peace. If                                                         Instead of waiting for her to do as she’s always
        patient of Harris. When she learned of his trip to the         God gives you the life,                                                       done, and then reacting against it, discuss your
        country of her birth, took a leave to join him.                you keep on going.”                                                           mutual needs openly   .
           “It was a wonderful experience,” Patel said. “The                                                                                            She loves company; you don’t. She relaxes
        amount of work he can do, at his age. One night in Bom-                                                           with people; you prefer solitary time. Then work
        bay he was seeing patients til 11 p.m. I had to tell him,                                                                                    out a reasonable plan, For example, schedule one
        ‘We have to go.’ I was exhausted, but not him.”                                                                                              event that you willingly co-host, with the rest of
           Everywhere they went, Patel said, Harris met people                                                                                       the time clear.

       Ron Harris of Waterloo, a doctor of holistic medicine, recently                                                                                  Email Ellie:
       returned from India, where he helped provide care for the blind.

                                         heads, our wives are so impressed
                                         they decide they better take us           Dad’s got                                for years and to join now would be
                                                                                                                            like trying to audition for a spot
                                                                                                                                                                        As I expected, I am in way over
                                                                                                                                                                    my head. In class, I’ve heard the
                       Chuck             home.                                                                              with the Rolling Stones, I told         instructor tell the dads to do things
                       Brown                But unlike me and my raw,
                                         intuitive style of modern dance,
                                                                                   two left feet,                           Emma.
                                                                                                                                “The Rolling who?” she coun-
                                                                                                                                                                    like a “soutenu.” Apparently we’ve
                                                                                                                                                                    been learning how to do a soutenu
                                         my daughter is able to combine her
                                         passion and emotion with formal,
                                                                                   but he’s OK                              tered.
                                                                                                                                For a good three years I have put
                                                                                                                                                                    since September and six months
                                                                                                                                                                    later I had to Google it eight differ-
    My youngest daughter is a            classical training. She has been a                                                 her off, delayed and denied and         ent times to get even remotely close
dancer, always has been.                 serious student of dance for five         mine take the stage with their           hoped dance registration would          to figuring out how to spell it, let
    “You can’t just dance,” she told     years. She goes to class every week       daughters in something called the        pass, at which time I could at least    alone what it is.
me the other day “You have to feel       for the whole year and in the early       “Dad’s Dance.” My laughter was                               ,
                                                                                                                            answer honestly “Awww. You                  On Sunday we stepped up to a
the music. If you don’t, it just won’t   summer all of us parents buy tick-        never mocking. Even though I             should have asked me sooner. Sign-      new level, beyond even the Dance-
look right.”                             ets and pack an auditorium for a          vowed I would never do that, could       ups are all done. It’s too late now.”   travaganza. I skipped hockey and
    I know she’s never seen Foot-        big dance extravaganza (also              never do that, I admired them for            This fall she asked me again        we all auditioned for a spot in a ma-
loose or Flashdance or even Satur-       known as the Dancetravaganza but          having the calesitas to get up there     about Dad’s Dance. When she did,        jor dance show. It was the kind of
day Night Fever. She’s nine and          only in my mind, it hasn’t really         in front of hundreds of people to        I kind of thought about how I’ve        audition where you go went on
she’s already philosophizing on          caught on yet . . . but it will).         waltz, twirl and even do a little hip-   watched as Dora the Explorer has        stage and looked into the bright
dance like she’s Johnny Castle.             At the big show, that full year of     hop with their little girls. And un-     fallen out of favour, how even the      lights to see only the shadowy
    And she’s right. I have “felt” the   hard work pays off when our kids          like the wedding reception, there is     Bratz are now blah and how even         figures of a panel of judges who
music many times, like at wedding        step out on stage under the bright        no open bar at the Dancetravagan-        the great Hannah Montana is close                               ,
                                                                                                                                                                    sat, silent, and judgey while we
receptions where, after enough so-       lights and perform the routines           za.                                      to becoming washed up in my girl’s      soutenued and did other moves I
cializing, I tend to “feel” songs like   they’ve practiced and honed. Or               A few years ago, Emma decided        eyes. After years of her asking me      haven’t yet learned the names of.
Old Time Rock and Roll or the            sometimes they run around or              she liked the look of this Dad’s         to dance, it struck me that the day         We still don’t know if we’re in
Chicken Dance and they move me           point to their parents in the crowd       Dance thing and asked if I’d do it.      will come way to soon that she will     the show but afterwards the dads
to liberate my necktie from my col-      and stop the show to say something            “I can’t,” I told her.               stop asking.                            were as giddy as the daughters as
lar and put it where it feels like it    important like, “Hi!” Whatever                The thought of getting up in             So this fall, I said, “OK.”         we dissected what went right, and
belongs, around my head. That            happens, it’s always worth the            front of people kind of scared me.           Emma was shocked. My wife           wrong, and what our chances were.
sometimes moves a few other guys         price of admission and tuition.           The thought of telling the hockey        was shocked. My mom cried. But          I’m kidding. We weren’t as giddy    .
to also feel the music and after            The Dancetravaganza also               team I can’t make a game because I       just to be clear, my mom will cry
we’ve all felt the music together, all   always provides me with a good            have to dance kind of scared me.         over a well-made toasted western.       Chuck Brown can be reached at
of us with neckties around our           laugh as I watch some friends of          Plus the dads have been doing this       She’s a little emotional.     

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