Boats 05

Captain Onslow Keeping (Retired)

July 13, 1940 ~ August 14, 2023 (age 83) 83 Years Old


Peacefully, at home my dear husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, and a friend to many, has set sail for the final time. Onslow passed away on August 14, 2023. He was a joy to his family and will be greatly missed.

At Onslow’s request, there will be no service of remembrance. He will be buried at sea at a later date. For now, he is off to medical school.

Donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in his memory.

A True Friend by Al Moores-Warren

A wise person once said that a true friend is a friend for life.  Onslow was such a friend. While he and I were still in our pre-adolescence years, on three occasions I had visited the nursing station to have the nurse extract a troublesome wisdom tooth. On those same three occasions I left the Clinic with my aching tooth still very much intact. I shared my dilemma with Onslow.  He was very receptive, his response was, “Yeah, why did you have to leave without having your tooth taken out?”. I said, “Onslow, I am scared”. His reply was, “I will go with you next time and have a tooth pulled too”.  The next time soon came and off we go. This time was different: I went with new-found courage.

I remember the “kitchen chair” in the Nursing Station. The same chair on which Onslow and I took our respective turns sitting on.  The needle, that long large needle, and the intimidating extracting tool. This scene remains vivid to me to this day.  Like a true soldier, or almost, I went first and, just as we agreed to, Onslow followed.  And in so doing had his perfectly good wisdom tooth extracted.

For Onslow, this was no big deal. He opined the tooth extraction with a keen sense of purpose.  He reasoned that the wisdom tooth that he had just gotten removed likely would give him trouble sometime in the future anyway.  It was, simply put, forward thinking. My take on our dental episode differed somewhat.

The courage on full display that day in the Nursing Station demonstrated to me that fear was nothing more than an emotion and that fear, like all emotions, must be managed.  Onslow knew well that I could conquer my fear and he selflessly showed me how I could do it.  The lesson that I learned that day in the Nursing Station has remained with me throughout my entire life.

There is, however, an interesting and not totally surreal twist to this story. When Onslow arrived home and relayed the day’s activities to curious family members, he got mixed reactions. It seems that not everyone appreciated the good deed that he had extended to his cousin.  His dad, I learned later, was one of those who was not so understanding and supportive as other family members. His mom, my Aunt Ethel, thought it was an honourable and heroic thing to do.  I could always count on a warm, friendly smile from Aunt Ethel each time I appeared on scene. His dad, my Uncle Norm, as the story goes, expressed dismay at both Onslow’s and my thinking. In short, there was little doubt in my uncle’s mind that our collective action and our reasoning leading up to what we had done.  Uncle Norm, I understand, did express some empathy for me.  For Onslow, well, not so much.

Onslow and I were brothers from different mothers. We shared many experiences throughout our life.  Experiences, some of which I could talk about if I had the allotted space to do so. Others I could not talk about even if I had the allotted space, entertaining as though they may be.  Onslow and I spoke on the phone every other day for years. Towards the end, by design, and for obvious reasons, we limited our conversations to just a few minutes. I last spoke with him two days prior to his passing. The conversation went as follows.

When I answered my phone, his voice, now somewhat diminished from the norm, said, “There is something you must never forget” I queried, “What’s that?”  He replied, “That I love you, you can’t ever forget that.”  I responded, “I love you too, Buddy and I promise, I won’t forget”. His response was, “Don’t send me any roses.” I said, “No Buddy, I won’t send roses.” Those were the last words spoken to each other. We ended our conversations with a chuckle as we always did.

I should point out that it was not unusual that Onslow and I could see humor where often case others could not.  Laughter came easy to both of us. We were cut from the same cloth and often case, it showed. Onslow and I have done our share of travelling the globe. Still, both of us remained steadfast in our favorable view of our home island.  Both of us were always proud to lay claim that Ramea remains, in our view, by any measure, the most beautiful place in the world.

I miss the phone calls, the laughter, and I miss my brother. Life has taught us that only the hurt will diminish with time, the void created with your departure can never be filled, nor should it be. Peace be with you my friend. As promised, I will again keep my promise, I will not forget. I will shed tears, and I will try to laugh again.


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Heart and Stroke Foundation of Prince Edward Island
180 Kent Street, Charlottetown PE C1A 7K4
Tel: 1-902-892-7441


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