This week, the world lost a magnificent human being, in the form of Dave Milliken, a man I used to know just as "Millie."
He was my first city editor when I was a student reporter at the Ottawa Journal and he taught me a lot about the visual nature of journalism. Millie could always make a dog story about a fishing derby pop off the page. He had an eye for layout that was unbelievable; he was a photographer's dream editor, and a reporter's best friend.
He was also incredibly hot back in the day with a head of curly hair, accented by ass-enhancing jeans, and torso hugging t-shirts. He could never really leave behind his previous life as an honest to God rock legend.
We little kids had no idea about his rock star past. After the night shift, about 3 a.m., Millie refused to touch a guitar or keyboard even when tempted by the sultry tones of Meg Leonard doing a spot-on imitation of Joni Mitchell.
You see, the thing about Millie was he closed doors. The Townsmen were over, and Mill was never one to cry over spilled milk.
When the Journal folded, or was it before? Millie moved to Toronto to become a big shot with Canada Newswire, and traded the tight jeans for sensible business togs. He got rid of the curls and became GQ, baby, all the way, and climbed the corporate ladder to become a leader in the public relations business.
What remained was the happy smile, the twinkling eyes, and the good-to-go attitude that we, who were fortunate enough to know the guy, knew he could never hide.
When Millie was in the room, the disco ball shone on him, until it dimmed today.
What will I remember about Millie?
The million dollar smile that made a girl feel like she was the only person in the room.
The kindness, the good humor, and that famous giggle.
He kept it all up, even when he was dealt that horrible blow, that cancer thing that make us all want to beat the shit out of cancer. He posted about his hospital visits, like a good reporter, detailing the good with the bad.
He took his diagnosis with verve. He played music. He spent time with his family at the cottage.
He frickin' lived. And that's what pisses cancer off the most -- that he chose life.
The other day, I saw a photo posted by his daughter Melissa from the cottage.
I knew the end was near.
I am sad for all of us, and especially for his wonderful family.
Musician, editor, journalist, mentor, friend.
You were a helluva guy.
Dave's on the right.