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"OHA" 2003 Obituary


O'HAGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-12 published
Craig Andrew O'HAGAN
By Vince BERETTA, Friday, December 12, 2003 - Page A28
Son, brother, twin, friend, athlete, adventure-seeker, angler, photographer, naturalist, engineer. Born December 13, 1972 in Brampton, Ontario Died October 17 in London, Ontario, of Burkitt's lymphoma, aged 30.
One of a handful of truly earth-connected souls, Craig took a leave of absence from his position as a mechanical engineer at FAG Bearings in Stratford, Ontario, to fill himself with the ultimate example of what made him an unforgettable person; his defining "thumbprint" adventure of a lifetime.This would not be Craig's typical accomplishment. Not the run-of-the-mill northern experience, seeking leadership skills with Outward Bound or a dog-sled adventure or a backcountry ski experience or the thrill of a white-water kayak or the serenity of a multiple-portage canoe trip. Nor would it be challenging the elite ranks of competitors at a Nordic ski, triathlon, or mountain bike race.
This was different -- a yearlong solo sojourn peregrinating around the world. He set out just before the New Year 2003 with his ski equipment, his excitable eyes, a heart-warmed smile, and a calm demeanour -- all of which made it easy for him to connect with other soul-driven people.
He began in England, Ireland and then Scotland, found his way to the mountains of central Europe, and then Sweden, Finland and Norway to seek more of his favourite season -- winter -- and to cross-country ski.
By March he found himself in the dangerous "no-go," Golden Triangle region of northern Thailand near the Laos and Myanmar borders. There he stayed with a family, assisting them to build a bamboo house with nothing more than a hammer and a machete.
That was so Craig -- he would always take the time to remove himself from the beaten path to touch the local culture by living with the rural people of the land.
By May he had changed continents and landed a job at a million-acre cattle ranch in Drysdale Station, demarcated by a building or two in the middle of Australia. There he worked as a ranch hand learning to fix whatever was broken with what ever they had, and herd cattle by Jeep, often driving hundreds of dusty, bumpy kilometres a day.
Craig was in his element when surrounded by nature and interacting with people and the planet. He captured this in his near-professional photography and various e-mails to his parents Mike and Mary, his brother Jeff, his twin sister Kelly and a large contingent of fortunate Craig-following Friends and relatives.
In the middle of June Craig fell ill and by July he would be airlifted to a Darwin, Australia, hospital where doctors discovered a rare and aggressive cancer; this would become Craig's next challenge.
He was flown home to fight with great optimism and never once asked "Why me?" Craig approached this like the rest of his life he let his heart lead him and he never attached himself to an outcome. This allowed him to instinctively know what mattered, and when it mattered, and he never faltered in his outlook.
Tragically, Craig lost his battle. At his standing-room-only funeral his ex-wife Becky delivered his eulogy. This fact speaks volumes, not only about Becky but about Craig, too. In a world of choices and mistakes both of them had the strength and maturity to face their heart's truth and chose to serve each other apart as Friends -- and, like Craig, there was no ego in that. With Becky, Craig pondered this thought: "What will be my thumbprint in life?"
Well, Craig, it was your silent lead to trust that the heart finishes first if we are courageous enough to listen to it.
Vince BERETTA is a friend of Craig.

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