Monday, July 19, 2010

My Dad

I suppose I should start from the very beginning, with the stories told to me. I may get some of it wrong as they are stories from my memory after all but I will do my best.

My mother and father met in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He was doing his Doctorate in Neuro-Phychology, she was finishing a Bachelor of Science and working as a Nurse at a hospital in Detroit. She would cross the bridge to the States each work-day.

Apparently the first date was a double date, mum and her room-mate & dad and his room-mate. I think mum was supposed to be with dad’s room-mate until, as the story goes, dad pulled out his harmonica and played. My mum fell in love. If you saw my father play the harmonica, or the passionate way my father does most things in life, you might fall in love too...

My Dad
... grew up in a little mining town on a little island on the east coast of Canada where the wealthy people were the ones who had shoes
... was the 4th boy in a family of 6 children
... was the son of my French Acadian grand-mother and my German-born grand-father who came over to Canada as a baby on a ship captained by the same Captain who later sunk the Titanic
... had to eat fast growing up if he ever wanted second helpings
... got 1 present on Christmas morning, maybe a paint-set, and before afternoon all the paints were all used up
... loved to draw, paint and play ice-hockey
... was very proud of his father who worked his whole life as a Coal Miner, a hard-working man with strong values. My grandpa didn’t drink alcohol but as I am told, many a pay-day he would wander down to the local pub and take the money from the miners who did… and walk it back to the wives of the drinkers before it was all used up... so that they could put food on the table for their families…
... is passionate about music… singing and listening… and sings me some of those songs sung to him by his father… heart-felt sad Celtic-like ballads such as … the Eastbound Train was Crowded. Sometimes I sing them to my daughter…
... left home at 15 and went to be a Franciscan monk in the state of New York
... lasted 7 years and has more good stories from the Monastery than bad
... learned cooking, carpentry, electrics, gardening, farming at the Monastery as well as playing pranks on the other monks
... left the Monastery at 22 years old, before being ordained, and returned to his home town to finish high-school and went on the University of Saint of X to study Engineering
... drove a bull-dozer during the summers to pay for University, clearing forest for high-ways.... Many years later, passionate about nature... he apologised to the trees he brought down...
... switched from Engineering to Psychology and went on to the University of Windsor to do his doctorate... where he met my mother
... never does things half way...
... got so into skiing so passionately in his 30s and went on to win many gold medals in Masters racing
... races the Peak to Valley downhill almost every year at Whistler and reaches 70km per hour on skis (did I get that right Dad or is it faster?????) and he is 71 years old!
... got into sailing at one point so passionately that he took off suddenly to crew a small sail boat crossing the Atlantic ocean one summer... he wrote me a journal along the way
... has always and will always be an inspiration to me… with his passion for life... his sense of adventure... the twinkle in his eye & childlike wonder... his love for life... the 100% way he dives into whatever he does... his respect for nature… ability to live the moment & enjoy the route... capacity to enjoy just being next to me in silence... humility... integrity... his choice to not live his life driven by money… his respect for all living things... his simplicity...

I was 15 years old, and staying with him for the weekend. “Jen! Listen to this song! You gotta hear this!!” He put on Working Man, by Rita McNeil, a wonderful singer from his home-town. He took me into his arms danced me around the candle-lit room as he told me all about his father. He showed me his mining hat and lunch box, which he keeps on display in his living room. Proud. Humble. Loving. Passionate.

I was 33 years old when I left for Spain this time... Dad came to Ottawa to see my daughter and I off at the airport... and to help me pack yet once again. My dad is a master packer and is a valuable and memorable part of all of my many house moves. The day we left - his only daughter with his only grand-daughter moving to Spain - he didn’t say much but I could feel his emotion... just as I was about to board he grabbed me and hugged me and whispered in my ear, “Jen, I support you in everything you do. Have the time of your life.”

You are part of me Dad. I love you. xo

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