Words and images by Jack: a legacy of wisdom for the journey

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 24, 2018

Jack Tennant, here sporting his journalist and Santa hats, celebrated wisdom for life’s journey through his words, life, and photos such as this black-and-white legacy-affirming image of a derelict car, colourized by Janet Armstrong. Photos of Jack by Warren Harbeck

It hangs prominently in my home office, Jack Tennant’s constant photographic reminder of the value of legacy. Yes, that old car carcass had experienced many miles of wonders and wounds along life’s way, but like Jack himself, it speaks now of hope and beauty for the future, if we but pause and reflect.

This past weekend the founder of The Cochrane Eagle newspaper himself has become a wisdom-affirming memory for all who knew him. Sadly, his aging mortal body wore out, but his legacy in words, images and example has assumed a new vitality that reaches into timelessness.

Mary Anna and I first encountered Jack’s black-and-white photo-painting, colourized by Janet Armstrong, at her Just Imajan Gallery & Studio in Cochrane. Its hope-filled mystery, hidden in the decrepit, once-vital car body, immediately took hold of our imaginations, and we knew it had to be part of our office prayer altar. Beneath it in our office we mounted a line from Psalm 90: “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Now, every time I enter the office, that artwork serves as a potent reminder that we mortals, too, have only so many days in which to serve our earthly purpose. As Jack’s and my treasured Stoney Nakoda proverb also says, Nîbi ne dohâ ptenâ wanch – “This life is very short.”

That old car has become a key to unlocking Jack’s legacy, especially in the following three areas of life:

Seeing the beauty in the easily overlooked or scorned – for example, this derelict car;

Humbly drawing on one’s own life struggles to reach out to others with similar struggles – for example, his role with AA and his creation of the SUNshine Fund to assist the Salvation Army in their Christmas outreach to the down-and-out;

And the importance of gratitude. About this last lesson, the man of perpetual gratitude that he was, I can just imagine Jack arriving at the Pearly Gates and, with a twinkle in his eyes, greeting his eternal hosts with his trademark expression: “What a ride!”

Yes, Jack, what a ride. Thanks for bringing us along by word, image and example.


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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