If I were the entrepreneurial type I would have created and marketed Paul Wellstone masks for this Halloween. I wish I would have had the time and forethought to do it for fun.

I hope no one is offended by my using a Wellstone “mask” in the graphic for this column. I’m sure some people are. Poor taste can be one of my strong suits.

Those of you who dress up for Halloween, and, especially the trick or treating kids, couldn’t have gone wrong with a Wellstone mask this year. The caricature possibilities are perfect.

For the kids going to houses that are still pained by Paul’s loss, the outpouring of love, and goodies, would be tremendous.

At houses where the occupants were not fans of Paul, the types with the “He’s dead, Get over it” bumper stickers, the horror would be precious even if the goodies were lacking.

And the political/social education for the kids would be fantastic as you talked about it later at home while eating their candy.

Sitting here one year removed from the tragic crash of his airplane, I’m having trouble not being one of the “What Would Wellstone Do?” types. Everything seems to be pointing to him as we try to not get pulled back too deep into grieving his loss.

He would have somehow been involved in local elections all across the state. He would have somehow gotten to the picket lines in the Twin Cities and Duluth to support the striking University of Minnesota clerical workers of AFSCME Locals 3800 and 3801.

Saturday is one year since Paul Wellstone’s plane crashed. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old but it seems like it’s been at least two years. So much seems to have happened since then. I feel bad that it doesn’t seem “like it happened yesterday.” That’s the way it still is for many of his friends. Maybe I just move on quicker than some.

God, this country misses Paul Wellstone. Look at the terrible turn we’ve taken in one year. He would have fought the shift to the right hard as he always did.

I keep running into photos I took of him as I recycle files. They’re like small treasures now. I really enjoy giving the pictures away to whomever else is in them with Paul. A couple of years ago we had a meeting with him at the Pickwick and I was taking pictures. All of sudden I blurted, “Hey, I want my picture taken with Paul, too” and I handed off my camera and posed with my arm around his shoulders. It’s priceless to me.

I received a hardhat he wore when he toured the Underground Mine in Tower. I almost wore it one day for a photo shoot on a construction site but I couldn’t get myself to change the adjustment because he was the last one to wear it. He still is.

Every year October 25 will come and we will remember and be pained again. The date will bump into general elections and Halloween for the rest of our lives. What a curious combination of gut wrenching loss, hope for the future and nonsense it will always be for many of us.

The last issue of October each year I’ll continue to try some poor play at Halloween humor with a graphic for this rant. It won’t work as this one may not have. It worked before, for me anyway.

Paul would have been so good at giving strength and courage to the secretaries on strike at UMD. Go do it for him. And for them. Let it be your activist offering to the Wellstone Legacy this year.

He would have been telling them to “hang in there.” He would have asked them questions about their families and jobs.

The pain of his loss will undoubtedly soften over the years, but not this year.

Larry Sillanpa is editor of the Duluth Labor World, Minnesota’s oldest labor newspaper. It now can be found on line at www.ibew31.com/laborworld

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