Photo - Norm Hacking

Norm Hacking's Prose
Race Track Hack:
"A Small Celebration"



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Taxi News, August 2007, Vol 23 No 8 p.19
© Norm Hacking 2007

“Enter with humility.
Continue with integrity,
Purpose, courage and passion.
Love the truth and seek it always.
Of its many lessons
Hold kindness and forgiveness
Closest to your heart.
Depart with grace...”
- N.H.
“Quiet does not become death.
Rather, give me loud tears,
And joy filled laughter,
And shouts of true celebration.”
- N.H.

It was definitely time for celebration.

July 11th was to be the Amazing Kathy O’s 85th birthday. It would be the first birthday (as it had been the first Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.) since Oct. 4th 2006 when Kathy O. grabbed the tail of a comet and took it for the next ride.

My son Ben stepped forward to help, as I flirted with a nervous breakdown, and became incapable of dealing with “the process.”

Kathy O. was cremated, but we could not afford an urn for the ashes, or a chapel rental, with minister.

So months passed, and soon it would be Kathy O.’s birthday, and, suddenly, it was clear that celebration of a life was long overdue.

I know so many people who have lost parents in the past months, I thought it might be important to relate my experiences July 11.

I had no idea what might be appropriate. Kathy O. was beautifully spiritual, and believed in God. She shunned organized religion, I think because most religions treat the worshippers of different religions as misguided souls destined to hellfire.

Mom couldn’t swallow that, and neither can I.

So, a wonderful soul, LiANA, who is a non-denominational minister, agreed to bless Kathy O.’s ashes, in a little park on Danforth just across from the Renaissance Cafe.

Then, the plan was to cross the street for hors d’oeuvres, and birthday cake, and a champagne toast.

Suddenly the universe took over.

In poor health, I had nevertheless performed at the Brampton Folk Festival a week before.

After my Mainstage show, a young couple from Quebec came up to me and gave me a piece of wood-carved hand made jewelry. They said the carving hanging from the leather necklace stood for “spiritual warrior.” It’s crazy, but it made me feel empowered somehow.

Then a gentleman who had purchased one of my CDs from the CD tent, sought me out to have the CD signed, which I always gratefully do.

Myself and my manger and friend Shirley, and other friends Sara Belmont, and the fine songwriter Glen Hornblast, were sitting around a park bench discussing July 11th’s upcoming birthday party, and our newly made friend, whose CD I’d signed, was happily included in our conversation.
I mentioned I still needed to find a beautiful urn that we could afford.

The following week the gentleman who had joined us to have his CD signed, called me, drove all the way in to Toronto from Brampton, and presented me with a magnificent urn worth $800. Serendipity.

So, on July 11th, 20 friends gathered to celebrate the life of a fellow human being, the amazing Kathy O. whose ashes now rested in a beautiful funeral urn.

After an oration, under the trees by LiANA, I looked at the circle of people around me.

They were there because they understood loss, and friendship, and its power to achieve renewal.
I looked around that circle of beautiful friends, and then at my son Ben, and said to him: “The family has gotten so small. There’s just you, and I, and your lovely wife Kim now.” Then I looked around the circle of people standing there, some still holding hands from the prayer, and I had a rather obvious revelation.

“Or maybe the family is growing bigger.” I smiled.

Then, we all walked across the road to the Renaissance for birthday cake and a champagne toast!
Kathy O. had always wanted a daughter, too, so her birthday present was a daughter - Dalin Lim, a beautiful young 5 1/2 year old girl from Cambodia, who is part of “Plan,” which allows you to help a child in a foreign land grow up despite the odds.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and I am especially grateful to my friend and Taxinews publisher John Duffy, who found time to join us, and take a few photos.

So many thank you’s, but, mostly just this: our stay on Earth is a shadowy thing. Only love gives us substance.

We are but shadows cast by love.

May we all join hands and share the ache of humanity together.

Happy Birthday Kathy O. I LOVE YOU.

Kathy O. Hacking Photo Collage in TaxiNews Aug. 2007

Photo collage re Kathy O. Hacking
clockwise from top - Kathy O. Hacking, a beautiful professional model!
Kathy O., a young Norm, Norm's grandmother
Norm's son Ben serving birthday cake July 11, 2007 (photo by John Duffy)
Dalin Lim of Cambodia, 5 years old, newly sponsored (photo from Plan)

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 2006 column "Vigil", his October 2006 column "A Song at Midnight", his November 2006 column "Never Goodbye" 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 the current issue archived in .pdf format at (check the last few pages of the 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 Hacking's website October 2, 2007