Bill Longworth, April 17, 2008
Vast crowds of well-wishers entered the church to the formal strains of violins, violas and organ performing Chopin’s 3rd Movement Piano Sonato #2 in B flat minor, Opus 35.
Their gaze immediately caught the rich closed casket at the front of the church upon which had been placed pictures of myself and my family as well as things emblematic of my life: My retirement school bell as a long time School Principal; My Rotary Club Paul Harris Medal awarded for contributions to the club as Past President and Past District Governor’s Representative for all clubs East of the city; My Gold Masonic Apron representative of membership in one of the oldest lodges in Canada; My Macdonald-Cartier Award presented by the Prime Minister for contributions to the Progressive Conservative Party and for carrying the party banner into the 1990 Federal By-election; A sampling of my oil paintings; Pictures of my work in China, England, and Egypt, and so on.
Many of the crowd gathered around the casket to pay homage or to feign a little interest in my life.
At the anointed hour, the distinguished and aristocratic preacher, standing divinely behind the pulpit, began the service in his soothing and melodious voice.
“Dearly Beloved! We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Bill Longworth whose oft quoted statement, ‘The Purpose of Life is a Life of Purpose’ characterized everything he did.”
“Bill was dearly beloved by everyone he touched,” the Minister pronounced. “He contributed time and effort to make the world a better place. He was a man of many talents. He was a man of many successes. He was a man truly admired by all. The world is better because of the life he led. We are all sad to see him leave our world but we are comforted knowing he is now in a better place.”
“All that’s a bunch of hogwash,” whispered a staunch gentleman in the fourth row to a woman sitting beside him with a wicked smile of pleasure plastered all over her face. “I think he had this coming to him. Only trouble is he seemed to go so peacefully.”
“Don’t chin so loud Horace,” murmured the women with difficulty disguising her obvious joy. “His family is sitting just in front of us. As his business partner, you’re sure to get a good portion of his loot. We’ll be sole owners of the business. We’ll be rich!”
Some in the crowd found it difficult to maintain their composure at the thought of a world without me. Some burst into tears of hysteria. Most of those gathered were in a profound state of mourning. A few, of course, like that stoutly gentleman in the fourth row were quite indifferent to my death and were there to simply relish in the event.
Those in my immediate family in the front rows were of the first ilk; they were in sincere and tearful despair about my demise.
Others in the crowd, particularly Oshawa City Politicians, were in a more celebratory and jubilant spirit rather than the sombre and solemn mood one usually expects at funerals.
The Minister carried on, “Bill worked hard to make Oshawa politicians a more honest and accountable bunch.”
Hearing this, some Oshawa Council politicos squirmed uncomfortably in their seats while others in the crowd happily paraphrased Richard Nixon’s famous assertion by exclaiming, “We’re glad he won’t be here to kick us around any more.“
These politicians, like my business partner, relished in my demise rather than mourning it.
One politician was heard to whisper, “With Longworth gone, we’ll have no more of his blog, oshawaspeaks.ca. We’ll be able to rest comfortably knowing that he won’t be around to expose our self-serving manipulation of voters to implement the general vote. We’ll now be assured of our council seats until our death or resignation. It’s comforting that we can rely on getting that half million dollar windfall over each four year term as long as we want it.”
In the contrasts of the growing whisperings and tears from various quarters as the service went on, the minister called for the eulogist to come forward.
And then to the amazement of all, I entered the room from a side entrance and walked to the lectern to address the crowd.
“This has been a test for you all,” I announced, now very much alive in front of the astonished crowd. “This whole thing was theatrical. I was the director and the whole thing was set up as a movie shoot with hired actors to play the parts.”
It’s amazing that no one checked any of the details of this service…false obituaries in the paper, forged death certificates, our rentals of the casket and hearse, the actors checking into the legitimacy of their parts, the church rentals for a movie shoot…Everything was fake. But all of the procedures of a real death were followed to get a true response from all who attended.
“I have tried my best to live the good life meting out rewards and punishments as best I could according to basic Christian values. Everything said and done here today has been videotaped with directional mikes to catch everyone’s sentiments toward me as accurately as could be done.
The economic and financial proceeds of my life work will ultimately be decided and distributed following analysis of the footage filmed today.
The admissions by politicians as to their real motivation for introducing the general vote will be played on my website to expose their self-serving actions for the people of Oshawa.
Those of you who have been true to me will prosper. Those of you who have debased, defaced, debauched, degraded, and abused our democratic principles in Oshawa will be exposed.
All the world’s a stage…and all the people in it merely players…don’t they say? And all of you here today have been true to your feelings and attitudes and motivations, all of which will have real consequences to your lives…something I can assure while I am still in this life!”