The Fish Killer

Charles Reginald Gamble (known to his friends and clients as “Reg”) was one of the first people whom I met when I arrived in Almonte in June of 1976.  He visited his close friend and my new employer, Michael J. Galligan QC, at the latter’s home on Church Street not far on the same street from where Reg and his wife Gail lived atop the funeral home then called Gamble & Comba in the erstwhile Galbraith mansion.

The building is an impressive 4-storey structure built in 1854 by Daniel Galbraith. Galbraith was a lumber baron and a lawyer. He served as the area representative in the federal legislature. The distinctive and well known edifice features solid oak wainscoting, moldings and doors, a stately old 1/4-cut oak fireplace, impressive turn of the century stained glass and high ornate ceilings.

This evening I was shocked to receive from Reg an email in which he candidly related the medical misery he has had to endure since late last August.

After a series of trips to Ottawa Civic and a number of tests they determined I had/have blood poisoning. The poison has made its home in the L 11 & 12 of my spine, thus the back pain. I was released only after having learned to get out of bed on my own and be able to care for my personal needs, which I can do, but with great difficulty. The big concern of the team of Doc’s taking care of me is that poison in my blood may attack my heart and especially the newly replaced valves. That being the case…I should start to line up pallbearers.

From the instant I met Reg I recognized his ineffable sense of humour. Like many successful businessmen his apparent abandon did not entirely disguise his more intense and serious side. He is however neither Janus-faced nor duplicitous; rather, as I have often suspected in the past and as I have confirmed by this evening’s email, he is a man of many parts.

Being buoyant about illness is no small compliment. In the email which Reg shared with a number of us he exemplified his unending waggishness. Although one cannot but recoil at the penalties which he has lately had to handle, he maintains (at least superficially for those of us who are less hardened to the prospect of misfortune) an air of nonchalance. I view his aplomb as two-fold; viz., it is a credit in general to others (who as I say maybe haven’t the stomach for such peril) and it is a credit to Reg in particular for surmounting the obstacles with undeniable gusto.

I don’t for a minute imagine that he anymore than the rest of us is impervious to these afflictions; but I must acknowledge his fortitude. I also know Reg would dissolve in comedy to conceive that I were in the throes of composing his obituary.  Far from it. Indeed his resolve and unbroken humour continue to inspire!