Hughie Langin (1933-2012) experienced life differently. His unabashed honesty and love for music was unrelenting throughout his 79 years. Brain injured at birth, Hughie was institutionalized as a young adult – a custom of earlier times. But his life changed at age 48 when the opportunity arose to become a member of the wider community by moving to a group home.
It was then that Hughie was truly born. He reveled in his freedom and could be seen walking, hands jammed in his pockets, all over Halifax. He volunteered at the YMCA every week for more than 20 years, and spent his spare time listening to music and reading.
Having a mental disability did not mean Hughie lacked wit or wisdom. He had a wickedly dry sense of humour with drop-dead timing. He could see any situation clearly and sum it up succinctly, and had an innate ability to see the goodness and talent in those around him.
Hughie adored live music. He loved the musicians who performed in the city and they loved him. He was happiest when circulating among them, dancing in front of the stage, especially at Stayners Wharf Pub and Grill, on the Halifax waterfront.
He enjoyed playing the piano, congas and singing to the crowd while the other musicians joined in, blending their music with his. His musicality was often startling, organic and poetic. It came from his soul.
Hughie was the ultimate improviser, in both music and life. He was an inspiration to all who knew him.