Tuesday, January 30, 2018

To what do we aspire in life ?

What is a life well lived ?   

In our youth to what do we aspire ?  

In old age how do we look back and determine the success of our lives ?

 What is it that gives our lives meaning ?

Wray Hart was not what many of us would immediately judge as "inspirational" if we saw him trundling his shopping cart laden with empty refundable cans down the street.   But if a life well-lived is to be judged on lives touched, then Wray is the epitome of what we should all aspire to.

It should not be about the dream job, the financial success or fancy acquisitions but in the difference we made and the lives we touched. We never know the impact our kind words and deeds have on others.   

Early last Saturday morning Wray had gone out to find some bottles so he could buy a friend some cigarettes; sadly a car driven by a drunk driver mounted the sidewalk and killed Wray.

Photo credit: Tim Krochak / Chronicle Herald

I have been touched and surprised by the outpouring of grief for his untimely passing and the many grateful stories from those whose lives he touched. 

He was a fixture on Spring Garden Road, often sitting on a bench in front of the old public library where people would stop to sit for a chat and share a sandwich with him.

A memorial page in his memory is filled with tributes to how Wray touched their lives:
I first met Wray as a kid, with my dad and likely my sister. We'd have a coffee or some fries and just "shoot the shit". As the years passed I'd bump into him countless times with friends, usually Danielle and Kay and he would always remind us to "stay out of trouble". As more years passed he would ask me "where's the other Musketeers", unlike the other two I had not stayed out of trouble. In fact those of you who know me best know I found lots of trouble during "the lost years". Mid to late 90s I found myself sitting with Wray quite often, having no idea he spelled his name with a "W" he never told me much about himself. Instead he was more interested in where I've been sleeping, if I had been eating and made sure to tell me when he thought I was hanging with a "dangerous bunch". Over the years we saw less of each other but always made time to catch up when I was blessed enough to bump into him. After our last visit, and meeting my first born, maybe second I don't remember...I do remember his smiling face looking at me with pride..."you did good kid, good for you". Thank you Wray, for always being a smiling face, for always looking out, and for giving our city a Hart. You will be remembered by so many xo
Ray, I first met you as my teenage self, sharing my lunch with you sitting on the Halifax Library wall. You noticed when I left for school, commented when I came back home, shared your stories with me, & left your imprint on my soul. You will be missed
He looked out for everybody, regardless of his own situation.  He helped everybody. He never said no to anybody. He had a really hard life and he struggled a lot but he remained positive, through every bit of it.
Rest in Peace Wray, downtown Halifax will always be less without you...I will always remember when I was working the stone on the Basilica our chats over lunch and the Kellogg's nutrition bars you loved so much..I had my wife pack and extra one everyday in case you were around that day......God Bless you friend to all.. 
It was with great sadness that I read this story this morning. I have known Wray for about forty years. I worked with him for about a decade in Burnside, back when his life was better. He had a wife and children back then. Things then went bad for Wray, his life changed a lot and he eventually ended up on the streets. He was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. He was tireless when it came to work. He was a good natured, honest and giving man. I will always remember Wray as will anyone that had the privilege and took the time to get to know him. He was a fine human being that tried to make the world a little better every day. He will be missed by many. Rest in Gods Peace,   Wray.
Photo credit: Trent Erickson

There is a empty space in this city that will never be filled.I had known Ray since the 90's.He was the kindest man you'll ever meet. Who cared for those who were kind to him and showed it by his ability to remember the details of their lives and the stories they shared with him. The hardest working man in Halifax. 
We had many conversations but one I'll never forget was the time he took me aside to speak privately. He said in a low voice, so only he and I could hear. He said,"Caesar.. I don't know how to say this but.... Well I haven't seen your wife in a while. Is everything ok?"... He was truly concerned. So when I told him everything was good and that she was away in NL for a while minding our nephews, he gave out a nervous laugh of relief then said "Oh I'm glad to hear that.. I thought you guys might have broke up .. " ha... 
He left an impact on a lot of people's lives, he always had a very positive demeanor and attitude, and a smile about him.
M________ said one of her friends recounted making a point to go by the library while walking home from downtown because she knew Hart would be there.
"He was watching for people and he was watching to keep people safe. So she always felt safer walking home when she passed him," she said. "That was him, his presence was always here."
Last fall, G________  had worried about Hart as she hadn't seen him in some time. When she tracked him down she learned he had a new apartment. He had a fridge to store his food safely and had bought a radio, she said.
"He was in really good form. He was really upbeat … He told me he had arranged his bed so he could look out the window at the stars when he was listening to the radio at night."

If well wishes, condolences and great memories were cold hard cash, then Wray Hart was a man rich beyond measure.  You will be missed here in Halifax, my friend. He was a fixture in downtown Halifax.  Always had a kind word and a ready smile when we met him in our travels

When the drunk driver was escorted from court on Monday a friend of Wray's shouted:

"His name was Wray and he was a ... legend !"

Photo credit: Elizabeth McMillan / CBC

Here is a link to  Wray's memorial page on FaceBook


  1. What a heartfelt tribute and outpouring of love for a community figure on the more humble end of the scale. When I lived in Winnipeg many years ago, there was a similar homeless man who lived in the trendy downtown part of The Peg who became a well-known and well-loved citizen. He was scruffy and mentally ill, but kind and gentle. Everyone knew him as "Jesus of Osborne Village." The community mourned when he passed away too.

    1. I think what we all wish for is to be mourned by many for whom we "made a difference"

  2. Wray sounds like he was a beautiful man, Sybil. And you are so right about his life being one to which we could aspire. It's not the size of our bank account, but the size of our heart. Sounds like his heart was so big. Thanks for sharing this. I can feel your big heart in this post.

  3. Very sad. I wonder if Wray knew during his hard life how these people felt about him, if they told him.A life lived well it seems. Never underestimate the touch of a person on a life, no matter who they are.

    1. Exactly. I hope he knew.

      Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming ... this world ... but seeing his example shows how we can each make a difference.

  4. What a beautiful tribute! RIP Wray...

  5. How incredibly sad! And definitely a reminder not to judge people based on their appearance.
    A beautiful tribute to Wray, Sybil. xx

  6. Thanks. It's a lesson I too must learn.

  7. What a story, Sybil. Often we don't know what people are really going through, so this story of Wray and how his kindness touched people's lives, was quite humbling. Thank you for sharing it.


Thanks for stopping by. I really do love to read your comments.