I’m breaking with my own personal tradition and devoting this column to several random thoughts, rather than giving you nearly 800 words on a specific subject.

It’ll be a nice change of pace for both you and me, and it will make more sense once I get to the last random thought of the column.

So, here we go…

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to ask about Cathy’s health following my column about the stroke she had on Good Friday.

I’m extremely happy to let you know that she started driving again last week, ending a month-long motor-vehicle absence ordered by her medical team. And this past Thursday evening, she led a First-Aid demonstration for the Port Hawkesbury Girl Guides – her third time serving as a Guide leader since she was discharged from St. Martha’s Hospital just over a month ago.

She is getting back into “real life” and, while we don’t want to assume everything is fine, we’re grateful for all that God has done for her over the past five weeks, especially for the kind people He has put around us during that time. We can’t thank you enough, folks.

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A Conservative MP died last week.

You might have missed seeing it in your social media feeds, which were – as usual – clogged up with gripes about carbon taxes and hilarious memes about Justin Trudeau.

But it’s true: Ontario Conservative MP Gord Brown, who had won the past five elections in his riding, was found dead in his Parliament Hill office after having a heart attack on Wednesday morning. He was only 57.

My condolences go out to Brown’s family, friends and colleagues. But they also go out to the people who couldn’t stop posting carbon tax gripes and Justin Trudeau memes long enough to recognize that a veteran Parliamentarian – and one who shared most of their views – had passed away.

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The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) held its 30th-anniversary awards ceremony in Halifax last Thursday, with the ECMA Industry Awards wrapping up on Sunday.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and to everybody who shared the spotlight in our provincial capital for what looked like an extremely busy and colourful Nova Scotia Music Week.

I didn’t make it for several reasons, including the rehearsal schedule for a local theatre show that I’m doing later this month in Guysborough County and next month in Port Hawkesbury, but I hope to return next year and I’ll always be grateful to ECMA for the exposure they’ve given me and so many other artists-on-the-bubble over the past three decades.

I’m still ticked that CBC dropped the awards-show broadcast on the eve of its 20th anniversary in 2008. So now, if you want to see it, you have to be a BellAliant FibreOp customer. (No offense meant to either BellAliant or CBC, but that one will always sting a little.)

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I’m writing this column the morning after Game 4 of the Winnipeg-Nashville NHL play-off series.

No matter what happens from here on in, I think we can agree that hockey has gotten a lot more exciting since the Jets made their mark in this year’s post-season and I look forward to seeing what happens to this talented, hard-working bunch in the next few years.

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The reason I chose to write a “random thoughts” column this week is the departure of my long-time colleague at The Reporter, Matt Draper.

Matt had already been at his post for nearly five years when I returned for my second go-around at the Port Hawkesbury newspaper office in late 2007, and he quickly impressed me with his ability to turn out quality news stories.

For starters, Matt handled upwards of 90 per cent of The Reporter’s crime reporting, including some of the most difficult subjects for anybody to follow, the Fen MacIntosh case and the court proceedings surrounding the crew of The Twin Maggies. He also wrote extensively about economic and petrochemical development in our area, and he tackled everything from municipal politics to entertainment, and even sports, along the way.

His often-cynical and sardonic approach to day-to-day life masked a delightful dry wit, a knack for remembering classic quotes from The Simpsons and WKRP In Cincinatti, and an underlying sensitivity and kindness that occasionally crept out in his memorable “Moment of Clarity” columns (even the “random thoughts” editions).

After 15 years, one of the most dedicated and hardworking journalists our region has ever seen is moving on. Not moving too far (to 98.9 XFM in Antigonish), but I’ll miss him, and I think you will too.

Well done, Matt.