Monday, April 22, 2013

Saying Good-bye to Nova Scotia's Queen of Hearts

Rita MacNeil
Arms outstretched in welcome
Looking like the down-home royalty she was, in her gorgeous red frock!

In just under 15 minutes,(2:00 pm EST) folks back home will bid their fondest farewell to Rita MacNeil at St. Mary's Church in Big Pond Nova Scotia.  I am there in spirit.  It is just so hard to say a final good-bye to her  but given all the music she has left us, I suppose we don't have to, thankfully.



She embodied all that we as Nova Scotians hope the world sees in us; honesty, humility,  a passion for hard work, respect for others, love for family, community, a good ceilidh , and the ability to let down our hair, kick off our shoes and testify to the goodness of God! One news report noted that Rita's cremated remains have been put in a white teapot that bears her name.  It seems appropriate and I think she would have smiled demurely and loved the simplicity of it. Something tells me it might even have been her idea! A woman after my own heart, was our Rita!

In my research over the past few days, I came across an on-line video of a young Rita, perched on a rock at a beach somewhere ( I am assuming a Cape Breton beach) singing away like the song bird she was, accompanied by a lone guitarist.   It was truly something to hear, not the Rita of her famous later years, (her beloved voice tempered by experiences, many of them painful and heartbreaking).  The vibrato was  untempered, the quality naïve, youthfully hopeful, and full of potential.  A beautiful, buxom lass,  her dark hair in two braids, her complexion like polished porcelain, and always the shyness reflected there, but not as yet OUR Rita. Ah, girl, you aged well m' dear and we all were the better for it. 
Thank you, generous lady, for sharing your life and your beautiful music with us.  We were hungry and you gave us bread, we were thirsty and you gave us drink.  God has noticed.  Rest now in the bosom of your beloved homeland, you queen of Nova Scotia's heart.  RIP Rita.                  

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