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by Pat Ruel

Paul must be smiling down on us right now because he knows that for many of us, this is the first time in years that we have stepped into a church.

I would like to thank Paul’s parents Matt and Christine for letting us have this service here in Canada. They realize that Paul had another family and that is all of us here today. When I look at all of you I realize that today is not only about Paul, it’s also about Matt and Christine, and the great job they did in raising such an incredible and loving son.

When I started to think about what I wanted to say, I thought about the challenge that our friend faced daily – would he go by Lolly or Paul? For me it’s always been Lolly so for those of you who know him as Paul, bear with me.

What we all have in common was the privilege of knowing Lolly. In the past few days several of us had the job of spreading the word of his death. I went through Lolly’s personal phone book and I came across a page devoted to birthdays. This did not surprise me but the amount of names on the list did. It contained 70 – 80 names, which meant that every week he was reaching out and making someone feel extra special. If you are one of the lucky ones, you know that he took this task very seriously. He made a great effort in finding the right something that would give the recipient joy. Music was one of Lolly’s favorite gifts to give and he would spend hours putting together a special compilation for someone.

I once told Lolly that he could be the poster boy for random acts of kindness. I never saw him walking by a beggar without reaching into his pocket. He volunteered for many charities and had long been a supporter of foster children programs. Lolly was very private about this part of his life and never made a show about what he was doing.

Even his most recent job at HandiDART was based on his personality. Helping the sick, disabled and elderly brought him great joy. A few months ago Lolly had to make a tough decision, and he chose to work part-time at HandiDART so he could free up his time to pursue one of his greatest passions: music.

The first time I met Lollly was at college. He was the annoying guy in the back of the class who was constantly tapping his pen against his desk. Then I realized that he had a definite beat and soon I discovered what a talented musician he was.

My fondest memories are of spending hours sitting on Lolly’s couch or lying on his bed listening to music. Lolly would turn into “super DJ” and play track after track. These nights were long enough when he had only albums and CD’s to choose from, once he bought what he came to call “Precious” there was no stopping him! It was like iPods were made specifically for him.

Not only did Lolly love listening to music, he loved performing it. He was an amazing percussionist, a fairly decent guitar player and loved to write songs and sing as well. His versatility led him to play with dozens of bands, from rock to celtic, folk to blues. His dream was to become a professional musician, and he did just that, winning a Juno with the Paper Boys and most recently touring with the Irish Rovers. Lolly was very modest about his talent, and I wonder if he ever knew how truly gifted he was.

On to one of Lolly’s other passions: football. Could you please raise your hand if you’d never heard about the Everton Football Club before meeting Lolly? (look at that, Lolly!) This tie I’m wearing is an Everton tie and a gift from Lolly. He was truly football mad and a devoted supporter of his beloved Blues. This year Lolly was blessed to have been in England where he attended a match on the sacred ground that is Goodison Park. He witnessed Everton defeat one of their rival clubs Manchester United. The last time this had happened was over a decade ago. Believe me when I say that this qualified as one of the highlights of Lolly’s life.

When I think of Lolly many things come to mind, but for me his ability to make everyone laugh is number one. He would without hesitation put himself in almost any situation to get a laugh. Sometimes it would involve costumes, props and skits, or a feeble attempt at a foreign accent. For me, my favourite was when he would walk into a room stark naked just to get a reaction.

The other trait that always made me laugh was how forgetful he was. Many of us here today would have had the call from Lolly looking for his wallet, cellphone or precious iPod. I would laugh at how cool he appeared to be knowing that he was in a panic. We’d have to trace his activities from the night before, and somehow to my amazement he always managed to get his things back.

Music, football, friends and family  were a big part of Lolly’s life but without a doubt, his faith was the most important. It was a very personal aspect of his life and meant everything to him. He was a devoted Christian and took great joy and comfort in the teachings of his Catholic faith. We spoke in great length about how his faith helped him deal with the challenging parts of his life and how it would bring him comfort in whatever his future would be. I would like to think of Lolly up in heaven, that is if he’s shown up yet (always late he was), although I know he would beg to differ!

I promised a friend I wouldn’t ramble on, so I’d just like to say that I see Lolly sporting an Everton jersey, cheering on his Blues, eating chips with gravy (commenting on the wobble factor of the chips), then finishing up and heading off to play a gig.

There was only one Lolly Lawton …….. go Blues!