When Samantha Monckton thinks of her father, Garry, she remembers one night more than 30 years ago.

He sat in front of an organ in his music room, surrounded by souvenirs from his travels across Africa, the walls papered in leopard print. He was well-dressed, like always, and a cigarette dangled from his mouth. Garry was nearly blind, and his eyes were cast down toward the keys in concentration. He played By the Light of the Silvery Moon, one of his favourite songs, as young Samantha sang along beside him.

Died on April 2, 2020
Vancouver, BC

Age 77

Garry went blind in 1979, at age 36, after years of complications from being hit by a motorcycle when he was four years old. But he didn’t let his sight loss define how he lived his life. He did it all: music, travel and a decades-long career as a physiotherapist in Vancouver.

“He was very stubborn and he was very fearless and that was quite an interesting combination for a blind man. Especially when he was trying to fix the lawn mower,” says Samantha.

Garry loved the arts and pushed his two children to hone those skills, too. Samantha recalls begrudgingly taking piano and organ lessons as a small child. As she grew, so did her love of playing music.

Days before Garry died, Samantha stood outside the Haro Park Centre in Vancouver playing By the Light of the Silvery Moon on her trumpet for him. He lay in bed, smiling.

This story was first published in MacLean’s as part of a collaborative project with Canadian journalism schools to document the lives of people who have died from COVID-19. To learn more about the project and to read the other obituaries, click here.

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