Laird Brown, Sutton’s Wizard

Un texte de Sarah Cobb

Paru dans le numéro

Publié le : 14 novembre 2022

Dernière mise à jour : 14 novembre 2022


Laird Brown was a mensch, a unique human, a brewer of tea, a baker of shortbread, a life coach, counsellor, stepdad, partner, friend. He died on September 25, 2022.

Laird Brown
Laird Brown

Laird Brown was a mensch, a unique human, a brewer of tea, a baker of shortbread, a life coach, counsellor, stepdad, partner, friend. He wasn’t perfect. There was a gleam in his eye that I’d guess told the tale of frustrated teachers trying to get him to toe the line. But his imperfection was, in part, what made him so relatable.

In earlier days, he was a talented cabinetmaker (think furniture as love letter) and passionate canoe-tripper. As his health deteriorated, he shifted his gifts for precision and balance from the physical to the emotional realm. If I’d been asked to create a business card for him, it would have read “Reluctant Healer”. He had something. Like an expert canoeist, whose smallest gesture keeps the bow pointing in the right direction, Laird’s words seemed able to gently correct the course of one’s life.

He helped so many members of my family and so many of my friends come to grips with who they are. And he helped them to forgive themselves when they fell short of who they felt they should be. Like his bottomless pot of ginger tea, he was warm and endlessly comforting, but with an edge. Laird was NOT chamomile.

He’d defuse moments of awkwardness by asking if he could take off his leg. Turning the focus to his “weakness” and in the process making his guests feel better about revealing theirs. He’d pop his prosthesis off, reassuring you that he wouldn’t be chasing you around the room anytime soon. If you asked, he’d tell you about the bits and pieces that were no longer his. Toes and foot and shin : living his too-short life with Type 1 Diabetes.

When I went to see him about trying to regain my courage, he talked to me about what it was like to go down on my motorcycle. He asked questions which I soon noticed were directed more at my belly than my brain about how it felt. Much to my surprise, the feeling in my gut answered him and then promptly went away. It was unconventional. It was a bit confusing. But it worked.

He chatted to my teenagers about anxiety and upset and they always left his place buoyed and relieved. Knowing Laird was on your team seemed to do that for people. There was something about his line of questioning that gave you the impression he was harnessing something in the universe to pull for you. Panic attacks assuaged, worries put to rest, cravings suppressed, sleep training accomplished, his wise words brought a great deal of peace to Sutton. 

His death on September 25th leaves a huge hole — in our family, in our circle of friends, in our community.

As the band, America, put it: “Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have”. I think Laird Brown was a wizard for many lucky people. Maybe what he did was to remind us that the thing we sought was within us all along. 

Sarah Cobb