Filled with music, family and lots of love from the community, the memorial held in honour of Milton Parent July 25 was a true reflection of the great man’s lasting impact.
Over 200 people made their way to the Nakusp Arena Auditorium for Milton Parent’s memorial service which was truly a celebration of his life and his legacy.
The stories started rolling right off the bat when Hillary Bitten from the United Church recalled Milton’s advice for how to be silly in the Rube Band.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get it,” he told her, putting her at ease and in the mood for silliness with his confidence and kindness.
Music, central to Milton’s life, was on the program, and everyone stood up to raise their voices with the song “We’ll meet again.”
Milt Parent had a few other aliases, those of us who had had only brushes with him learned. Back in days when his younger sister Judy was naming the world for the first time in her life, she couldn’t articulate “Milt,” and dubbed him “Bin” instead. The name stuck.
And when his first grandchild Cassia was born, Milton had been called away, but he left a letter for her telling her that he was too young to be called grandpa, so she could call him “Pabin” instead. That one stuck too; in the course of the afternoon, many Parent grandkids came up and remembered their Pabin with enormous tenderness.
It almost seemed genetic, Milton’s deep love of music, in the way that it had passed on so strongly to the next generations of Parents. Young composer Corey de Baat, one of Pabin’s grandchildren, had reworked themes from the piano concerto that Milton had written into a piece for flute that he played in memory of his grandpa.
Rosemarie Parent, Milton’s life long love and wife remarked afterward that, if you knew the concerto, you knew the piece Corey played on the flute was very true to the original.
Ruby Cameron, who had been friends with Milt from practically the very beginning remembered his dedication and focus. When he was young, he would bring her his compositions for piano that he could write, but couldn’t play, and get her to play them for her. She also spoke about Milton’s mastery of the trumpet and his “brilliant ventures” into writing that earned him a Lieutenant Governor’s award for historical literature in 2001 for his book “Faces of the Past,” and said that his achievements were “possibly limited only by time.” Cameron finished her tribute by saying how much Milton, “our glorious star,” will be missed.
Adam, Tim, Joel and Cassia Parent, as well as Davin Josephson and Taya de Baat all got up and displayed the musical talent that flowed through their veins. Milton, their Pabin, had always had time to jam, and it had instilled in each one a love of music that they carried through their lives.
Milton’s musicianship provided the score to a slideshow of snapshots from his life that began with snapshots of a knitted sweater-swathed baby that was clearly the young Milton.
The slides charted his Kootenay youth–complete with obligatory nude shot–and the people and places that shaped his life. Rosemarie made an early appearance in a boat on the water, and from thereon in was a fixture either in the frame or behind the camera. Kids, grandkids, and community were all in the picture, with the final photo of Milton looking pensive and satisfied on the couch.
More than once, Milton’s diminutive physical stature was compared to the vast effect he had had on both his family and the community at large. He was a short man with a huge heart, and a fresh view of life. His sister Judy remembered her introspective brother as looking at the world as though for the very first time, every time.
Speaker after speaker got up and told stories about Milton that pointed to the great man who inspired everyone, including Pat Parent, who got up and launched into a rendition of “Hello Dolly,” fudging his way through the words with great enthusiasm and humour.
For the final song, the Parent family got up on stage and played “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a longstanding family tradition, as was the conga line that Doreen Durocher led around the Arena. Everyone stood and sang and clapped, taking part of the silliness and seriousness that embodied who Milton was, and let us all join in the celebration of his life.