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Max Keeping memories: Give back and embrace life

By Peggy Taillon in Ottawa Citizen

Re: Senators’ rink ‘right size’ for Max Keeping memorial, Oct. 9.

Whether you knew Max Keeping personally or not, you most certainly felt that you did. He was everyone’s champion, he lived with great empathy and he felt honoured to tell our stories every evening at 6 p.m., which is why he became such a strong advocate, a voice for those in need. He couldn’t tell the stories and not be moved to action.

I’ve had the pleasure of having Max in my life and the privilege of calling him a friend. I have so many stories and wonderful memories. One in particular that personifies who he was in my life and my son’s life happened while I was in Kenya fighting the adoption process and the government to adopt my son and bring him home to Canada.

It was September 2007. I had been in Kenya working through the process for nine months and had just had a call with horrific news that despite all of my efforts to that point, I could be in Kenya beyond Christmas, Easter even Mother’s Day and even still may not be successful with the adoption. I was told: You may never get to court, they may just turn you down. I was shocked, panicked. Max was part of a large group of friends, family and co-workers I would send email updates to — when I sent this update, it was clear to all that I was devastated.

Max got the note and immediately called me in Kenya. I could barely speak, I was so upset. He said: “It’s okay, you don’t have to say a thing, just listen: I know you feel trapped and that this is never going to end, but it will. You will be home with Devlin, you will. Embrace this time you have in Kenya, life is long, just believe and enjoy everything that surrounds you. I promise someday will look back at this time day fondly, you will get home as a family, just believe.“

Just believe. Max had great instincts, he knew what kind of stories would move us, connect us and engage us to give back. He used his life and his platform to tell meaningful stories, put a spot light on the things that matter to us and even more so, the things that should matter to us and he made us care about them.

Our community is stronger because of Max, his passion and love for the Ottawa Valley, his belief in the goodness of the human spirit and his contagious zest for life. He connected us, bound us together with an infectious pride in our city, our region and the people in it.


So as we continue to hear all of the tributes and remember Max, remember, believe, embrace every moment as he had, give back, serve others and have fun doing it.

Peggy Taillon, Ottawa, President and Founder, Hera Mission, President, Bruyère Foundation

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