The Gleaner
Nanette Workman

The Blame Game

Thank you so much for your emails. Here is a question from Elisa Shepherd: “If you could record or perform a duet with any artist that you have never performed or recorded with, who would it be, and why… and what song would it be?”

I would have loved to record Tears in Heaven with the incredible Eric Clapton.

In 1991, Conor, son of Eric Clapton, only four years old, died in a fall from the 49th floor window of a condo in New York City.

I was furious and wanted to blame everyone for his death, from the owner who had not installed window guards, the cleaning lady that left the window open, the baby-sitter or the parents who were not watching him. Conor’s tragic death deeply affected me, as my son was the same age. I could not imagine losing my baby like that. For that reason, I suppose, I took it personally and had a deep contempt for Clapton.

That was an unthinkable tragedy that inspired the song Tears in Heaven.

But even after hearing the song, I remained judgmental. I thought if anything like that would happen to my son Jesse, my life as I knew it would end. I could never sing or even listen to music again. The fact that Clapton could go on singing and playing music after the devastation of losing his child was beyond anything I could comprehend.

Then, two years later, something totally unexpected happened to me.

I was not making much money in the music business in those days, so I decided to take a real estate course to supplement my income. I was hired by Remax as an agent and the very first house that I sold was a gorgeous property in Howick in August 1993 to my friend, Normand Brathwaite. I was so excited!

My son Jesse was turning six on the 23rd of that month, and I organized a birthday party at McDonalds in Valleyfield. We went to pick up one of my son’s classmates to bring with us to the party.

It was really fun for all the kids, but all I could think about was my first sale and all the work I had to do later that day to get the accepted offer signed. After the party, the parents picked up their kids and we left to go straight home to get my documents ready for the transaction with Normand.

As I was driving through Chateauguay, I got a call from McDonalds that a little girl from the party had been left behind! Oh my God, I’m gonna faint! I quickly called a friend, Guy, who was a policeman in Valleyfield, to check on the little girl. She was just fine, having ice cream and enjoying being spoiled by the McDo staff. But I was close to having a heart attack!

I called the family right away, turned around and went back to Ormstown as fast as I could. The parents were furious with me. I couldn’t blame them. I would have felt the same, had the tables been turned.

I was so distracted and preoccupied with the thought of my meeting later that day, that I totally forgot that I had the responsibility to return a little girl safely to her parents.

After all that, I thought about my feelings towards the people that I felt were responsible for the death of Conor Clapton, and I realized that something like that could happen to anyone. Quick reality check!

A renowned American psychiatrist, Dr. Phil Stutz, wrote, “The highest expression of a human being is to create something new right in the face of adversity. The worse the adversity, the greater the opportunity.”

The perfect example of this expression is Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.

If you have a question for me, send it to nanette@the-gleaner.com.

Always looking forward,

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Ormstown, here I come!

Nanette Workman

1 Comment

Phil Norton 2024-02-16 at 10:20

Thank you for sharing such a powerful story and personal experience. I can relate to your “judgemental” thought process when I hear of a neglectful parent forgetting their child in a car. I know a singer-songwriter whose life and career basically ended when her beautiful talented grown daughter died of cancer. She should hear this song and back-story.

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