Photo - Norm Hacking

Norm Hacking's Prose
Race Track Hack:
"Never Goodbye"



past gig links

When Cats Go Wrong













Taxi News, November 2006, Vol 22 No 11 p.15-16
© Norm Hacking 2006

Never goodbye. That was the deal.

It got to be an ongoing joke between us.

My mom, the amazing Kathy O., and I would be on the phone and one or the other of us would forget, and accidentally say, “goodbye.”

It would draw a playfully sharp reprimand from one of us. Never goodbye. That was the deal.

When I close my eyes I remember a day at Grandma’s house, over half a century ago. I was maybe four, playing with toy cars and trucks on the dining room floor.

My Mom, Kathy O., was ironing the laundry a foot away from me.

For some reason, sitting and playing with toy cars at my mother’s feet, I was suddenly struck with the horrifying truth that everybody dies.

I asked her about it, and she assured me that would not be for a long while.

This didn’t satisfy me.

And so, mortality was the “Sword of Damocles” that provided a sense of urgency and impatience in my life.

Kathy O. had the patience of a saint.

In a world full of people running around trying to “get theirs,” Kathy O. looked after people.

She was never happier than when others were happy.

She really believed in “Do unto others as you’d wish them to do unto you.”

What’s particularly astonishing is she found a way to live her life that way. If the whole world could embrace that attitude this would truly be Heaven on Earth.

She came to Toronto from Winnipeg, went to Harbord Collegiate and sang in operettas. Major Brian S. McCool, a Canadian war hero and a big shot with the Royal Conservatory of Music, called her “The Jenny Lind of Canada” (Jenny Lind being a Scandinavian virtuoso dubbed “the Swedish Nightingale”).

She modeled in Toronto and New York. One year she was on the Pontiac billboard, another she was the RCA Victor billboard girl, with a beautiful head shot of Kathy O. in the middle of a vinyl record.

To her, it was no big deal. She was taught by her parents that your looks weren’t something to be proud of - they were handed to you at birth. What counted was what you did, and how you treated other people.

When she married, and I came along, we all lived in the same house with her parents. Then we moved to Scarberia and my father went AWOL. Mom and I had become an encumbrance, so Dad left and went out to “get his.” He became a very wealthy man. If he’d stayed, he would have been rich.

I owe my entire life, or at least all that is good about it, to my beautiful mother Kathy O.

My last two columns have been about Kathy O’s last stand at Scarborough Grace Hospital.

When I told the editor I wanted to do this column, I said I wondered if three columns in a row about my Mom might be too much.

He said, “No, it needs closure.”

Kathy O. Hacking passed on Oct. 4 at 3:48 am.

I was by her bedside.

But it bears repeating this story.

Several days before she left, I arrived at the Hospital about 10 pm. It was rainy and cold and blustery.

She was weak as a kitten, barely able to raise her arm. She was sleeping, but as I shivered and shook my jacket, she woke up and smiled the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.

50 years dropped off her face.

And then she sang me a song:

“Button up your overcoat
when the wind blows free
take good care of yourself
you belong to me...”

Then she slowly raised her arm, palm forward, fingers spread, and she whispered, “My best pal.”

I put my palm up against hers and whispered back, “My best pal.”

She gave me the most beautiful moment of my life.

The Amazing Kathy O.

Photo of Kathy O. Hacking
Kathy O. Hacking
1922 - 2006
She lit the shadows

P.S. Kathy O. leaves behind a strapping grandson Ben Hacking, and wife Kim, T-Pot the Cat and a 56 year old son Norm Hacking Jr., who will love her forever.

Never goodbye. That’s the deal.

Webmaster's Notes:

Norm's beautiful mother Kathy O. "slipped away" peacefully in the early morning on Wednesday October 4, 2006, with Norm at her side. He had spent most of his time the previous weeks with her - see his September column "Vigil", his October column "A Song at Midnight" and the words of "Olya Katarina", the song he earlier wrote and recorded for her.

See the list of Norm's on-line lyrics, poetry and prose, including other "Race Track Hack" columns for Taxi News. Norm has been writing his monthly column since February 1992.

Taxi News website is with Norm's current monthly column at and usually a few archived issues in .pdf format at (check the last few pages of each issue). Taxi News is a monthly publication with news and commentary on Toronto's taxi industry and is available by subscription or free at distribution points.


Added to Norm's website November 6, 2006