Tooker Gomberg – A Tribute, by Sally Issenman

Read aloud at Earth Day Celebration, Edmonton, April 22, 2004.

Good afternoon everyone.

My name is Sally Issenman.

I have seen a lot of people here at the park who I know, and it is totally great to see and connect with so many friends and acquaintances.

Still, I don’t believe there are many here at all who know how much I love a good laugh.

I mean a good laugh where you’re laughing so hard your stomach is literally killing you and you’re doubled over hollering and screaming, and maybe you even totally collapse in a heap on the floor.

That’s what I call a good laugh.

That’s what I call a great laugh.

That’s the kind of laughing I was used to with Tooker.

Tooker Gomberg could get me laughing like no-one else I know.

We knew each other for 25 years.

We had a lot of laughs together.

He knew he was the funniest person for me and he played to it.

He cranked it up big time when we were together.

I was out visiting Tooker and Angela in Halifax just this past fall for my holidays, and the day before I left – I’m just realizing now that that was the last time I saw Tooker – the day before I left Tooker was being so over the top – he had me laughing so hard all day long that I was crying on the floor of their harbour-view flat in Dartmouth – begging him to back off so I could unfold myself from the pile I was in.

In contrast to all this hilarity; in contrast to the thousands of thrills and riotous times together, Tooker’s death is the most un-funny experience I’ve ever had in my life. Tooker’s death is a great loss to Angela, his family, his friends, companions, and the earth herself.

But really, I’m not saying all of this to be a downer.

I’m really not.

I hope you’re not taking it that way.

What I’m saying is that, even in my deep and profound grief, I feel my incredible good fortune and gratitude to have been such close friends with someone who we all know as brilliant, generous, kind, innovative, immovably devoted to his beliefs, convictions, and ideals, and for some of us – we had the added blessing and delight of Tooker’s totally dazzling, extreme, wild, passionate, and reckless humour.

How fortunate we all are – all of us here together today, all of the people in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax; friends and comrades in the States and Europe and everywhere where Tooker’s magic and grace and light touched this earth and her inhabitants – this is our strength out of which hope can flow.

These are our gifts.

This is our endowment.

May we use our unobstructed awareness and our open hearts as bridges to one another and as the inspiration and impetus to engage our world and to work hard and diligently for the vision that Tooker and all of us share.

May we all remember Tooker in our hearts and in our actions.

Thank you.