"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

My Friend and Co-Worker, Ed Spaans, RIP+

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One of my dear co-workers and friend, Ed Spaans, died today in the University Hospital ICU. Three weeks ago he completed a hearing, then went home because he wasn’t feeling well – I’m told that was his first sick day in his entire professional career. That night he was admitted to the hospital, was diagnosed with leukemia, entered the ICU with pneumonia late last week, and died this afternoon (May 16, 2012) at age 68.

I suspect I know the exact moment of death – 1446. I was filling up my coffee cup and had a moment of intense spiritual experience, and my first thought was ‘Ed has died’. I said a prayer which was equally spiritually active. It wasn’t a surprise when my work neighbour’s phone rang about 45 minutes later with the news. This sometimes happens to me when I’ve been praying for a person with particular focus. I would much rather have the ‘he is healed’ experience resulting from my prayers, but it seems my encounters are more focused around death (certainly glorious confirmation that God heard my prayers, but still…).

Ed was my mentor when I started at the Appeals Commission, a time when I was struggling with a transition out of full-time parish ministry and still mourning the loss of my military career. He was a constant support to me and we shared many jokes around the life of the uniformed. Ed served 38 years with the RCMP, retiring as a superintendent and CO of K Division here in Edmonton. We shared many common facets, as is always the case when military and police meet, including one touch point around the 2002 G-8 conference at Kananaskis – I had planned and directed the aircraft ground operation in Cold Lake while Ed was on the ground with the security force at Kananaskis (man we loaded and unloaded a lot of missiles over those 4 or 5 days).

I used to jokingly call Ed a ‘real’ Canadian, unlike me. His family brought him to Canada from the Netherlands when Ed was a young child (9 years old). He really manifested the Canadian dream through serving Canada in the RCMP, and then continuing to serve at the Appeals Commission. That sort of story is one that I take for granted now, as a 3rd or 4th generation spoiled rotten son of Canada. Ed had on the wall of his office a copy of the immigration certificate from his parents, a reminder of that heritage.

Ed was also a real wizard with technology, what would be called an ‘early adaptor’ when it came to tech stuff. He would often put me to shame, bringing up new things that I had not even heard of. He also passed to me a fair amount of surplus computer parts that I passed into a rehab program to provide computers to inner city families. Like most of Ed’s lifetime of service, that was done quietly and without recognition.

That model of service is another one that strikes me as a rare thing – an icon to all of us of what it means to be a citizen, a co-worker, a friend. Ed was always the organizer and motivator at work…and coordinated our Christmas auction for charity each year along with our annual golf tournament. He also acted as an informal leader in our little group, insisting on bringing us together even when we were tired or disheartened. A lifetime of service to his fellow humans, and a reminder to me what citizenship really means.

Ed leaves behind his wife, and four adult children (and of those five, two also served or serve with the RCMP). My prayers are with them.

I sat in his chair at work for a moment today, and prayed the commendation for my friend, my last offering of service to a man who lived life well, and died too young.

Well done, true and faithful servant. Enter into your rest. We will miss you.


Written by sameo416

May 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Beautifully said and echoed.


    May 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  2. I worked with Ed in Vernon on G.I.S. section of the RCMP and I remember him were well as being very thoughful and a great person, May he rest in piece Keith Bienia Kamloops,b.c.

    Keith Bienia Kamloops,B.C.

    May 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm

  3. […] had written previously about the untimely death of my co-worker, Ed […]

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