By Greg Price
The Town of Taber lost a good man last month.
That fact was made apparent at the packed funeral mass at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church for Paul Marcel Giroux.
I’m not going to pretend I knew Paul to any great extent, bumping into him the odd time at the golf course as he hung out with his ‘coffee crew.’ But, I felt like I did as I listened at the two-hour funeral service as the priest, his ‘coffee crew’ and family gave their testaments to the man’s life.
Maybe that’s the draw of small-town life, even acquaintances can feel like friends at times with how close our community is connected. Giroux had a life filled with many health struggles, including being the longest living heart transplant recipient in the province along with a donated kidney from his daughter 10 years ago.
After his heart transplant, courtesy of an 18-year-old donor, Giroux was quoted in the Edmonton Journal in 1987…“I was saved by a young man, I promise I will make my life good for him.”
But despite all the challenges, Paul kept his sense of humour and importance of family in place. As some of the zingers were recounted at the funeral mass I thought to myself, ‘this man has my kind of sense of humour.’
It was that same sense of humour that belongs to his daughter Steph, the one I am most connected to through the newspaper. As I sat down to take in the Gold Medal World Junior game with friends at Boston Pizza, Steph stopped by to say hi.
She did your regular pleasantries anyone does in which she inquired if I had a girl in my life. Given any steady relationship I have had in my life with members of the fairer sex occur with as much frequency as U.S. presidential campaigns, she was perhaps a tad shocked when I said ‘yes.’ “She’s not one of those girls you have to inflate is it?” she inquired.
I answered no, going even so far as to say she doesn’t even charge more for the hugging and kissing. As I said, Steph and her father Paul have my type of humour.
I’ve really only known Steph recently through her determined charity work that I have helped publish in the newspaper like the Bernice Giroux ‘We Have Not Forgotten’ Memorial Golf Tournament, the Girls Just Want to Have Fun 80s Theme Charity Golf Tournament, or the 12 Days of Christmas campaign.
Through Steph’s efforts, $34,950 was raised for Linden View Alzheimer’s and Dementia Cottages for blood pressure monitoring kits and a bladder scanner to go with $1,700 worth of recreational equipment and games that are specially designed for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Organization like TCAPS (Taber Community Action Prevention Society), the Taber and District Handibus Association, Safe Haven Women’s Shelter, Taber Food Bank, animal shelter, and the importance of organ donation have all got greater awareness with ventures Steph has helped spear head.
With a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ attitude and her determination, I wonder if those were some similar traits she inherited from her father as both traits would have served them both well in the newspaper business.
Steph’s connections would serve the newspaper business as well. I was amazed when I played in the Bernice Gioux ‘We Have Not Forgotten’ Memorial Golf Tournament, the prizes she was able to secure for the fundraiser. I do not think there was a single golfer that left the tournament without a prize as I saw Paul MC part of the banquet afterwards, once again using his humour to bring smiles to people’s faces. People say I am connected in this community, but I do not hold a candle with how Steph is in the ground roots level of this community.
As I have got to know Steph more this past year-and-a half, and listened to the testimonials at Paul Giroux’s funeral, I can see how his traits have been passed on and how his legacy continues through his friends and his family.
It may sound cliché, but clichés continue to exist because of their truth. While we pass on with our mortality, our immortality comes form the impression we leave behind with our loved ones.
Judging by the outpour of emotion and testimonials at Paul Giroux’s funeral, I would be both honoured and humbled if when I leave this earth, I had a mere fraction of the impact Paul had on so many lives.