On Wednesday night, I brought my 13-year-old son to Parliament Hill to pay our respects to the late Jack Layton. He had asked me to take him, something I found remarkable.
Over the years, he has shown some interest in politics and the key players. Like so many of us, he enjoyed Jack's sunny disposition, his honest and hardworking nature and even the feistiness that emerged during leaders' debates and at other times.
The public viewing was a historical moment, and he knew that and wanted to be part of it. Moreover, he wanted to thank Jack for his work and his fight for families.
And so we did, waiting an hour and a half in line outside until we finally entered the foyer of the House of Commons. He was intrigued to see the place where so much of the work of Canada's politicians is done. In the condolence book, I watched as he very carefully printed, without any coaching, "Thank you Jack, for your amazing work as the leader of the NDP."
As we approached the casket, and bowed our heads to say goodbye to someone we'd never met, but admired, I saw his eyes moisten with sadness. It seemed the realization of life's fragility had dawned on him, for the first time. He has never experienced the death of a loved one or attended a public viewing or funeral service. This was an important moment for many reasons, and I was glad we had come.
As for the lengthy wait in line, we spent the time just chatting. I loved the quality time. And then the questions came: he wanted to know how party candidates were chosen and how they came to represent their constituents, and how members could rise to the top to represent their parties. I tried to explain all of this, but I don't know how well I did.
Absorbing it all, he paused for thought for a few moments. Then he spoke, to articulate a sentiment that without a doubt, would have had Jack Layton beaming proudly: "Maybe I'll join the NDP."