Danishes are better than muffins

Jack Layton’s farewell letter may inspire copycats. So here’s Scott Feschuk’s first draft.
Danishes are better than muffins
Everett Collection; Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Sarah Mackinnon

Jack Layton’s state funeral raised important questions such as, “What is the future of the social democratic movement in our country?” and “What happened to the rest of the Parachute Club?”

But more important, the New Democrat leader introduced to many of us the concept of the “farewell letter”: a final piece of correspondence to be released upon one’s passing. As Layton demonstrated, this is a powerful way to say goodbye, shape one’s legacy and maybe try a little bit to kiss up to voters in Quebec.

Jack’s letter is an example worth emulating—and given life’s tenuous nature, it’s never too soon to get to work on that first draft. The only problem is that few of us will depart with the accomplishments and public regard of a Jack Layton, so our letters may fall a little short as inspirational documents. For example, mine:

Dear Friends,

A number of Canadians have written to me recently, offering such heartfelt sentiments as “1.9 per cent interest rate for the first six months” and “Dear Occupant.”

Unfortunately, my time with you is at an end and I have succumbed to: (circle cause of death) a) falling out of a golf cart while trying to run over Nickelback; b) something less awesome. I trust that I passed my final moments with all the dignity and composure you’d expect from a man who wept while watching the latest Shrek sequel.

I don’t want to leave this Earth without making a couple of recommendations:

Like Jack Layton, I recommend that Nycole Turmel carry on as interim New Democrat leader. This is because I vote Liberal.

I also recommend the band The National, Threadless.com and the strip loin.

To my family, I say with a heavy heart: I don’t know where I left the remote. Have you looked under the sofa cushions? Sorry.

To the young people of the world, I say: why exactly do we need to reboot Spider-Man for you again? We basically just rebooted it with Tobey Maguire and he was a totally okay Spider-Man. Can you simply not endure without a version in which Spider-Man and the Green Goblin have their climactic confrontation via tweet? @Spidey MWAHAHAHA!

To the people of Quebec: I have never understood your taste in comedy, music or beer. But long before the Internet came into my life, your TV channels showed nudie movies after my parents went to bed, and decades later I still feel the connection that forged between us.

To my fellow humans, I say: did you know Steve Guttenberg takes himself very seriously? I read a thing where he was talking about how he was working on two movies at once and he said, “I guess that’s just an artist’s life…I paint when I want to paint.” To be clear: STEVE GUTTENBERG said this. In fact, he used the term a couple of times—artist. I guess in his mind he’s just like Picasso, in that Picasso was also a really terrible actor. Anyway, my point is: do you want to come across like this guy? Don’t take yourself too seriously. I never did—that’s why I’m leaving it up to you to decide how many statues of me you want to build.

A word about the service to mark my passing: Jack Layton’s funeral was a beautiful celebration. It also taught us the incomparable value of having Conservative cabinet ministers nearby after we die. Please invite them all to my funeral. At times of sadness, everyone could use a laugh, and nothing beats watching the faces of Conservative cabinet ministers as people go on about social justice—and John Baird and the rest can’t figure out whether to clap. Also, maybe get the reverend who presided over Jack’s funeral to talk some more about his gay husband. I thought Vic Toews was going to pass out.

Please always remember: optimism is better than despair. Danishes are better than muffins and even certain cupcakes. And love is better than anger, except when some jackwad cuts you off in traffic or you think about how much money Charlie Sheen has been paid in his life. So let’s split the difference: love is better than anger about 80 per cent of the time.

Please ensure my estate gets a percentage of the revenue from all posters you sell with that quote on it.