Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today I went to the funeral of the man who first taught me to read and write Danish. Fittingly, the service was at the Danish Lutheran Church here in Calgary, and was partly conducted in Danish. I didn't know Ralph really well. But I knew that he was THE Danish language for adults teacher in Calgary and had designed the curriculum used for the language programs for both Calgary and Red Deer. And I knew that he was a bachelor who lived with his dog. That he was a painter by trade. That he wore wooden shoes and liked his brandy. And that he had funny little mannerisms that made Brent and I smile and enjoy coming to his class. That he was passionate about Danish culture, language and organizations here in the city. I didn't know that he was 54; the same age as my dad. Or that he was born here in Canada, to Canadian born parents (of Danish ancestry) and had picked up his passion for Danishness by association, kind of like I have. It occurred to me that I never told him I passed my Grad school Danish language test with flying colours on the first try, largely thanks to him. Or that we went to Denmark, or that I'm about 1/3 of the way done my thesis. I would have liked to make him proud. Calgary has lost an integral contributor to its Danish community. Who will paint the Danish float in the Stampede parade this year?