Edward Alastair Haythornthwaite was diagnosed with cancer early in 2015. He lived with it till today and today- December 14th 2016- he died of it. That’s what happens. He focused during the intervening time on enjoying his days and seldom dwelled on his illness.
He will be missed and mourned by his family- his partner of 45 years, Eden, his children – Gabriel and Lloy, Jordan and Julia, John, Sam and Nika and Lily and Scott, his grandkids – Sophia, Celia, Max, Edward and Kira and his sister Caroline. He loved them all and wanted the best for them.
His loving and kind-hearted friends made this time sweet despite the sorrow.
Alastair worked on the shop floor as a machinist for 35 years and spent the last nine years of his working life as a business rep for the Machinists Union. He was always a good trade union man who did his time as a shop steward and cared for the safety and working conditions of his fellow workers.
Alastair was one of those people who seemed to coax machines, appliances and vehicles to run better and work properly just by standing beside them. You hear about people like that but you don’t see them everyday.
In his working life, he skilfully built and repaired machines which in turn could be used to build and repair other machines. He was a proud man of the metal trade. He also was a model train enthusiast and loved the age of steam with all his heart.
In a program sponsored through his union he completed his BA in Labour Studies in 2013 thus fulfilling a long wished for goal.
Alastair was a long time member and supporter of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and ran as their candidate in Cowichan in the last federal election. He did remarkably well in that endeavour and he enjoyed every minute of the experience.
He was the founder of the Joseph Mairs Memorial Committee and as such presided over an event dedicated to Mairs’ memory and the pursuit of working class political advances every January for almost 2 decades. It will continue without him as he would have wanted.
In his stint on staff with his union he trekked all over Canada and the US. Last spring, he returned with his sister to England, the land of his birth and travelled by rail up and down the country revisiting many places for the first time in over 50 years. Despite the great pleasure and curiosity with which he greeted these opportunities, he always arrived back on the island blissfully delighted with his home in Cowichan. He swam its rivers and hiked its forest paths over all the decades he lived here. He adored this place.
He was our father, grandfather, husband, brother and friend. He could be sharp tongued, tactless and cantankerous but he cared fiercely about the world and he did his bit for it.
He would want us to warmly thank our wonderful family doctor – Lyn Pascoe – who was compassionate, frank and thorough. He would also have wanted us to gratefully acknowledge the kindness and skill of the Home Care Nursing staff as well as the lovely care aids of Island Health whose dedication allowed him to remain at home to the end.
He wasn’t much for flowers so please don’t send any – however well meant. Instead give a few dollars to the local animal shelter or other community effort or better yet take a few friends to the pub and hoist a glass to Alastair’s memory. He’d like that.
“…one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an’ he foun’ he didn’t have no soul that was his’n. Says he foun’ he jus’ got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain’t no good, ’cause his little piece of a soul wasn’t no good ’less it was with the rest, an’ was whole.”
-John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath