He had an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (September 7, 2002)
In terms of mortality statistics, only 5% of the people who have one of these events survive them. In terms of his life path, this may have been one of Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘exit’ points.
When Lightfoot entered the Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium, inside the 102-year-old Opera House, it was still four hours to curtain. Before sound check, he made his way down two flights of stairs to the dressing room, wincing with each step. His band members were already on stage, cracking jokes while waiting for the boss. All of them had been concerned about his condition the previous night. Haynes had told him he should cancel the next show, but Lightfoot waved it off. There was no talking to him.
Time ticked on. Lightfoot still hadn’t appeared onstage. Lightfoot’s sister, Bev, arrived in the auditorium. Seeing everyone twiddling their thumbs, she asked in her no-nonsense way, “What the fuck is going on around here? Where’s Gord?” Racing downstairs, she opened the dressing room door and saw her brother prostrate on the floor. “Gord, ya stupid fuck, what the hell are you doing? “Well, I don’t feel good,” he managed to say. Bev launched straight into big-sister mode: “You’re going to the hospital right now.” She and Haynes helped him to his car and they drove the six blocks to Soldiers’ Memorial, a hospital with just two emergency beds.
Lightfoot’s blood pressure was right off the charts. Bev stayed with him. Haynes and Keane waited nervously outside. When a hospital alarm went off, Lightfoot’s bandmates knew something dire had happened. Twenty minutes later, Bev emerged looking worried. “Gord went into some kind of convulsion. They’re not sure what it is.” “There is not gonna be a show,” Haynes declared. “We’ll be lucky if he lives.” Everyone knew Lightfoot needed to be moved to a bigger, more advanced facility, but no beds were available. Just then, another alarm and flashing lights signaled a new crisis. The doors to Lightfoot’s room flew open and in went the nurses with heart paddles. They’d lost him, but were able to bring him back. Lighfoot was suffering from massive internal bleeding and required immediate surgery to save his life. Suddenly, news came that a bed had opened up and, at one-thirty Sunday morning, he was airlifted to Hamilton’s McMaster University Medical Centre.Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings (pages 251-252)
This may be pure astrological speculation on my part, but I believe the exact crisis point when the hospital staff ‘lost’ him and then brought him back was 6:58 pm. As Uranus was conjunct the Aquarius Ascendant at that point, my impression was of Gordon Lightfoot being greeted by a heavenly choir, even if it was only a few moments in terms of earthly time. (And as he’s never spoken of what happened during his six-and-a-half weeks in an induced coma, I can only quote what he said when he regained consciousness on Halloween:)
On the morning I woke up, the sun was shining and I heard, right out of thin air, a beautiful rendition of my song “Minstrel of the Dawn.” It was a sort of hallucination. Happened just as I came to and one of the nurses was filling up my feeding apparatus. The whole song with me singing, but sounding much more pristine than on the record. It was the most amazing thing.Lightfoot (page 253)
I honestly think that song says it all. (I’m not going to be able to add any more value to it, except to say that the documentary did not touch upon this life-and-death ‘event’ at all.)