It’s Been A Long Time

Greetings of peace dear friends,

Several years ago, even prior to the onset of COVID 19, I made the intention to step away from writing, recording and performing. There were so many complicated reasons why, that I did not know how to publicly explain the decision. Almost three years later, I still don’t!

During this extended hiatus, it has been heartwarming to receive so many cards, letters, and messages from friends and supporters of my work around the world ~ wondering where I am, how I am, if I am still writing and whether or not I will ever be accepting bookings to sing again.  It has been humbling to see young people performing my old songs and posting them on platforms like Youtube!  It has been amazing to see the numbers of monthly listeners to my old albums on Spotify consistently high month to month, even though I have been “off the road” for so long!  And it has been touching to have some folks even send anonymous donations my way in support of my work ~ urging me to keep writing!

Though I do not yet have the words or time to unravel all the mysteries of why I needed to put a spoke in the wheel of my artistic endeavours, I am able to clarify one important reason for now:

In 2011, my family and I quickly resettled in Canada after several years abroad, to be with my mother who had taken ill.  Upon my mother’s passing the following year, it became imperative for us to stay in Canada, providing comfort and companionship to my aging father.  Over time my father’s needs increased, making travel and recording more and more difficult. Though I tried to maintain this blog, local Community Music engagements, occasional events with Abraham Jam and a handful of studio projects, it was still hard for me to juggle my responsibilities.

Eventually, as daily care for my father intensified, my actual interests in writing , singing and recording dwindled.   Seeing to my father’s mental, physical and spiritual well-being embraced me completely.  Though I looked back fondly at the friends I made, adventures I had, projects I participated in and travel I experienced ~ they all seemed like nostalgic garments, somehow ill-fitting to who I was growing to be each day.

Following a very special, sacred and intense year, my father passed away on May 26th, 2022. From The Creator’s loving mercy we come, and to the Creator’s loving mercy we must all return. (Those of you comfortable with the request ~ please keep my father Howard in your thoughts, prayers and meditations as you read his obituary below.)

A loving shout out to my dear sisters and brothers at Sound Vision. The Sound Vision family took a chance on my little songs almost thirty years ago (before there were many songs available for English speaking muslim families!) and never gave up on me. They have remained my bedrock over these past several years ~ believing in me, supporting my need to care for my father and keeping my old songs accessible to new generations through numerous on-line streaming services.

With time, I may be better able to shed some light on the other complex reasons why I remain on hiatus.  When it becomes easier for me to update this blog with those details, or with new articles of interest, I will most certainly do so.

Until then, a heartfelt Thank You to all of you who have continued to stay in touch.  I owe many of you follow up letters and apologize for being so backlogged!  Thank You for continuing to share my old poems with others (especially those of you who grew up on my songs and now have children of your own) and Thank You for continuing to work hard at changing your local communities for the better. . . one song at a time.

With peace,

Howard “Howie” Wharnsby
1936 – 2022

Dear friends and neighbours of Howard “Howie” Wharnsby ~ with heavy hearts, Howie’s family share the news of his passing on May 26, 2022, at the age of his 86.  The humour and wisdom Howie taught will be passed along by his three children, his seven grandchildren and his great-granddaughter.  Howie is also survived by his nephew and numerous cousins.

Howie was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on May 20, 1936, grew up in the downtown core and knew the streets better than the back of his hand.  Every curb and corner held a memory for him.  As a boy he delivered the local newspaper and was a devoted alter-server at St. Mary’s Church.  As a youth, he enjoyed “hoober-hackin’ ” with his friends, often ditching classes at school to embark upon independent study adventures ~ one teacher deeming him “Dean of Absence” in the school yearbook.

Though he had little interest in classroom lessons, Howie was a hard worker and devoted student to the School of Life.  His punctuality, commitment, work-ethic, integrity, fairness and interpersonal skills were respected by all who knew and worked with him.  He was a valued stock and delivery boy at a neighbourhood grocery store as a lad before apprenticing as an electrician during his mid teens.  In his early twenties, Howie worked for several years with Brinks Canada, then began a 30 year career with the Kitchener Fire Department, which he carried out with great honour, devotion and pride. From time-to-time Howie moonlighted with various moving companies and RV retailers, generating additional income and new friendships along the way.

Howie and the love of his life, Mary (1938 – 2012), met in their teens while roller skating and married in 1959 ~ her name tattooed on his arm and always upon his lips until his passing.  As a son, brother, husband and father, Howie went out of his way to love, encourage and support his entire family with every ounce of who he was. He was a man of joy ~ notorious for his friendliness and first-name basis relationships with everyone ~ mechanics, grocery and hardware store clerks, bank tellers, letter carriers, waiters and waitresses. “Hi Howie!” rang out in his direction almost everywhere he went and each car that passed his house had a warm wave out the window for him.

As a hobbyist, Howie was a talented, self-taught woodworker, jeweller and tinker. Throughout his life he was also a collector of coins, cars and antiques of all sorts. He enjoyed being involved with Southern Ontario’s community of classic weapons collectors ~ treasuring the many friendships in those circles even more than his old flint-locks, powder flasks and Civil War memorabilia.

A lover of life’s simple pleasures ~ Howie would never turn down old western films (especially those of Wayne, Eastwood or Bronson), cheeseburgers, milk shakes, cabbage rolls or chicken noodle soup. He carried music and merriment wherever he went. The quintessential “Happy Wanderer”, Howie whistled while he walked, jingled pocket-change while he waited in lines, hummed while he ate and even sang in his sleep!  He was a man of steady, simple faith who honoured, respected and supported his many friends and family members of diverse spiritual paths.

Howie’s family wish to thank the countless friends and neighbours who enriched his life over the years ~ calling, checking in on him, dropping off food and shovelling his snow. Thank you also to the numerous nurses, doctors and pharmacists who saw to his care, especially over the last year of his life.