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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day, 2013

First Father's Day without Dad...

Dad died nine months and two days ago. In honour of the today, I'm going to share my thoughts of him. These were the words I shared with friends and family at his memorial service last September.

Dad’s Memorial Service; September 27th, 2012.

I would like to share a few thoughts and memories of my Dad. I’ll read them, as speaking off the cuff will be a little difficult right now.

Dad taught me many things over the years. He encouraged me in many pursuits, even the ones that were of little interest to him. And he always shared with me his observations of what went on in the world, our neighborhood and our family. 

Here are a few of the things he taught me;

Dad taught me how to light a fire.

He taught me how to polish my shoes and boots. Dad also taught me, no, instilled in me the importance of polishing one’s shoes and boots. First, they will last longer and second, many people will judge you by the state of them.

Dad taught me how to tie knots, and also how to tie a tie, properly! Ties were very important to Dad. I recall meeting him at Union Station one morning as we were going to the Auto Show. Even though he’d been retired for a few months by this time, he still couldn’t leave the house on a week day without putting on a tie. I insisted he remove it. Reluctantly he did so! 

For Dad, wearing a tie seemed almost as important as having a good shine on one’s shoes.

Dad taught me to drive standard.

He also taught me how to use simple hand-tools, but most importantly to put them back from whence they came! 

Dad taught me that having a good sense of humor was a very important tool for dealing with one’s problems, easing a difficult situation or putting others at ease. Dad’s wit, not unlike the tools on his bench, was always so very sharp.

But Dad’s sense of humor, his witty responses or observations, they were never meant to harm. His joking, or “pulling of one’s leg” were always in good fun. Always “joshing” and never aimed at someone who couldn’t handle it.

Dad didn’t tell jokes though, he told funny-stories, he made light of serious situations. He did this to put you at ease, break the ice, or simply to get a rise out of you.

Dad loved to go for a swim. Whether it was a “dip” in the Roses’ pool or a “paddle” in the sea, he enjoyed a swim. Many years ago, when I was maybe 9 or ten we used to go a couple of times a month to the local public pool. He also took me there for swimming lessons. This was one of those instances where he “encouraged” me as opposed to “taught” me. I was curious to know how Dad had learnt to swim, so on one of these outings I asked him.
Well, where Dad grew up there were no public pools at the time. All the kids went down to the local canal and their parents taught them to swim there, by just throwing them in. Only thing was though, while all the other kids had bathing suits on, Dad had a sack full of rocks!

I don’t think Dad had an easy childhood. Growing up through the war, the threat of bombings and having been moved around so much was difficult. Making light of these difficult times was Dad’s way of dealing with difficult situations. For as English as Dad was, and as English it is to have a “stiff upper lip,” finding humor in what otherwise might be bleak can be very therapeutic. 

Something else Dad taught me, which again finds its roots in his early years, was the importance of being on time. Something even more important than having a good shine on one’s shoes! Dad was rarely if ever late. He NEVER left the house without his watch.

Photography was a hobby Dad encouraged me to pursue. Dad’s interest in photography though was not an interest in the actual art or science of it. Dad took pictures to record an event, or for a recollection of the places we had been. Later though he took less pictures and his interest in the equipment involved grew. Many times I would show up at Mum & Dad’s with a new camera and Dad would enquire if I was leaving it for him to look after. Most of the time though I think this was simply in response to me asking him if he wanted me to look after his Rolex! 

Dad taught me many lessons over the years. Some very important ones. Dad taught me to have a strong work ethic. He taught me to take responsibility for my own actions, especially when they affected others. To say you’re sorry when it was your fault. Own up to your mistakes, admit it when you’re in the wrong; unless of course I was involved in a car accident. 

Mostly though, I was taught by my Dad through the examples he set and by his actions; not often by his words. The “Old Guy” never said to me “I told you so,” or “What did I tell you.” Never commented “Should have listened to me,” or “That was stupid!” But he always asked if he could help somehow. 

Dad loved my Mum, loved her dearly, treated her like a Queen and taught me to do the same. Most of all, and certainly most importantly, my Dad taught me respect.

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