LETTER: The Tragically Hip have a really special place in my heart

"A photo of my Dad (Bill McKay) from June 1992 while he was at the Toronto General Hospital awaiting his transplant. He looks so healthy, you wouldn't think of what was ahead of him on February 16, 1993 when he finally received his lungs," writes Lesley McKay.

(Leslie McKay is a longtime Stittsville resident and shared this story about her family’s connection with The Tragically Hip.)

"A photo of my Dad (Bill McKay) from June 1992 while he was at the Toronto General Hospital awaiting his transplant. He looks so healthy, you wouldn't think of what was ahead of him on February 16, 1993 when he finally received his lungs," writes Lesley McKay.
“A photo of my Dad (Bill McKay) from June 1992 while he was at the Toronto General Hospital awaiting his transplant. He looks so healthy, you wouldn’t think of what was ahead of him on February 16, 1993 when he finally received his lungs,” writes Lesley McKay.

 

When my Dad was awaiting his double-lung transplant in Toronto (waited 18 months 1991-93) he lived with Gord Downie’s wife Laura’s parents Nancy and Barry Usher in Toronto. Nancy is a Bradley (daughter of Muriel & Grant Bradley) from here in Stittsville and was a nurse.

Just thought you might like to know that The Tragically Hip wrote two songs in 1993/94 on their Day for Night album for my father. They wrote Inevitability of Death and Greasy Jungle for him. IofD was written for when he received his lungs from Terry and when he passed away from his double-lung transplant, hence the ending of the song. GJ was written after they attended his wake and funeral in 1993 at Tubman’s Funeral Home (my cousins by the way) and coming to our house.

At the time, my sister was on the gymnastics team at Queen’s – lyrics “soulful gymnast above the snow” in our backyard. They also made a really special t-shirt for Dad which I have and the notes they wrote when he received his lungs.

While in hospital, the guys would come to visit Dad, and we could always tell when they were there. The nurses and doctors came from all over the hospital to see them to get pics and autographs. Dad loved these guys so much. He went to Gord and Laura’s wedding and they took him to concerts with them on the tour bus and everything. He had a great time with them all. But Gord was like the son he never had.

Doing this tour just shows the true ‘Courage’ he has and how much he loves Canada and the devoted fans who have followed them all in their adventures in life throughout the years.

We have lots of good memories of how well Dad was treated by all of the band members and it is so sad what is happening to Gord and I can only pray for a peaceful journey for him.

This is a bittersweet time for me, as my Mom passed away in 2009 from the same brain tumour that Gord has and she also had surgery.

Leslie McKay
Stittsville

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11 thoughts on “LETTER: The Tragically Hip have a really special place in my heart”

  1. How did I miss Hazeldean Rd being mentioned in Greasy Jungle?

    Thanks for sharing this story. Great to hear the back story to these songs and nice to see a local connection to the band.

  2. This is so touching, Leslie. Thank you for sharing. References are made to getting lungs from Terry. Who is Terry? I’ve previously heard that the Terry in the song was Terry Fox. Can you clarify please?

  3. Powerful stuff.

    Much has been written/published on the Hip over the last few months, this may be the most moving. It will give new meaning to those songs the next time I hear them. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Leslie … Neighbour 🙂 I’m so glad you shared such a beautiful story with all of us. You are one of the most interesting people I know. Your knowledge with the past and people here in Stittsville and neighbouring community is fascinating . Thank you again for sharing such a personal story …. Written so beautifully btw…. ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Lesley,
    What a great story, about Billy!! How wonderful to see your dad’s face!!! I was delighted to see this . Your dad came to see my dad (Mick) at my mom’s (Shirley) wake – sadly she was not a candidate for a lung transplant…. I spoke to your mom on the phone after Mick passed. I have such fond Christmas memories of you and Shelly and Lorraine at your home on Elm Street I am in Stittsville as well and think of you all when I pass the house. All the best.

  6. Leslie, I used to work with your mother. She told me of how good the boys were with your father. And the songs they wrote for him. I’m glad you’re sharing this story with a larger audience. A few years before your mother retired, I got a job in a different area and she got a banner made to wish me luck. I lost touch with her and it was years later that I heard that she passed on. I was quite sadden. Over the years and of the hundreds of people I worked with, your mom is one of the few people that I am glad our paths crossed. She was a wonderful soul, forever with a smile.

  7. Oh my goodness – THANK YOU all for the touching comments you have written and the links you included. Cindy – you’ll have to get in touch as your Mom & Dad were my Godparents. James, your comments about my Mom were warmly appreciated. Belinda – my wonderful neighbour – thanks! As usual, cousin Ellen – your emails are always appreciated.

    To the person asking about Terry – this was the beautiful 19-year old from Alberta from whom my Dad received his lungs.

    Our family was very fortunate to have this connection to The Hip and I encourage everyone to sign-up as an organ donor because you never know when you might need a transplant or who’s path you may cross or friendships you will make.

    Sincerely,
    Lesley

  8. Thank you so much for the beautiful story about your Dad and his relationship with The Hip. Touching, moving, inspirational and informative. I now know what to listen for when I hear those two songs, and I’ll have a sense (albeit very, very distant) of some connection. Thank you, again. Your story deserves wider distribution. Have you ever thought about writing a short bio of your Dad?

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