Memories of my Father

As I wrote my Christmas post in November, my father had been hospitalized for just over two months. At the time, we were waiting for a bed to open up in a long term care facility.

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t make that trip. On December 16th my 97 year old father passed away quietly. It was early in the morning and I’d like to say I was sad and shocked. But, I wasn’t. He lived a long, happy life. He and my mother shoved five children in a small three bedroom house in Toronto that was supposed to be a starter home. It turned out to be their forever home.

My dad was born just 26 years into the 1900’s he was the youngest of six children. His oldest brother served during World War Two. His sisters would go on to be teachers and correspondents in papers in the Washington D.C area. My grandfather was a cartographer and a business man, my Dad inherited the construction business my grandfather started. Dad would live through several important events that had impacts on our world in later years. He was an avid story teller and loved to share stories about his time in Chepstow and then in Toronto. But one of my favourite memories of his was the day he started telling me about the lunches he’d have with “some author” who lived near his house in Toronto. He couldn’t, for the life of him, remember the name of the author. He finally shouted “she wrote books about PEI” it took me all of five seconds to realize he might mean Lucy Maud Montgomery. So, I asked him, and after I got the affirmative “yeah, her” I asked him if he realized who he had met with. To most people, that would be pretty amazing. He was very nonchalant about having spent time with “some author”. To him, as a young boy, he was simply having lunch with a neighbour. I would have been pretty tongue tied, and for anyone that knows me, that’s an accomplishment.

Reflecting on his life made me think about my own past. I was the youngest of five. I was also a foster child. Eventually my parents decided I could stay. (my mother liked to joke that I just never left)  I was often told that because I was adopted I was special. I don’t think I was. I was just very lucky. I had a rough journey through school. Which is why books became such an important part of my life.  One year my mother decided to sign her very introverted teenage daughter up for dance lessons.(we thought about singing lessons, but,  no one wants to hear me sing unless it’s to get large rodents away from grain silos)  I was actually really excited. But, in her haste to get the sign up complete, she inadvertently signed me up for an advanced dance class. We all very quickly realized that I was a) not an advanced dancer and b) about as coordinated as a giraffe on skates.   My father, upon hearing the story of my disastrous first day, told me a story that centered around him trying to operate his father’s classic car. Let’s just say he was no longer allowed to touch his father’s car. But years later, he had several classic cars, one included a 56 Bel Air Hard Top.   He would have loved the classic car shows in the area.  I often took legions of pictures to show him. I can vividly remember him knowing the year and make of most of the cars I showed him. He also shared an anecdote or two, and one hilarious story of him being stopped at the border because the border guard wanted to ask him a question about his car.  I believe it was a rather rare Corvette. 

In that reflection, I also realized that I may have inherited my love for the strange. I love gadgets, which I think is both my father and my mother. My Dad loved collecting model cars. The stranger the items collected the better (looking at you creepy talking ambulance with dying batteries) , and the more illogical the funnier. We learned to fly trick kites at the cottage in the summer, we crashed more times than I can remember but I didn’t care. Because my father laughing each time the kite tried to crash into us was worth the running up and down the beach trying to catch enough wind to throw the kite in the air.  We also had an affinity for remote controlled vehicles. I was never happier than when I  brought a remote control helicopter up to the cottage so he could watch me fly it.  Fly it I did. Right into the deck. I thought my father was going to explode because he laughed so hard. 

He also was an avid hockey fan. When I was 10 we went to a Leafs game together. Guy Lafleur and the Quebec Nordiques (I am that old). We had seats in what you’d call the nosebleeds, and the players looked like teeny little ants on skates but we had so much fun. My father was very creative with his words when he’d watch hockey. My favourite exclamation was usually reserved for a shot missed that my father felt should have been easily done….it was something like “oy a loo loo chooba”  Watching hockey was serious business for him. And every Saturday night we’d load up on snacks and watch hockey together. It’s always going to be one of my fondest memories of him. 

We’ve laid my father to rest as of this writing with a short service that he requested. I still hadn’t really processed the grief until I went to lock the door in my childhood home for one of the very last times. I turned the key and I suddenly realized that I will no longer have that home to return to. To open the door and see my Dad reading the paper in the living room or my mom rug hooking in the sun room. So, I went back in for just a few minutes and looked around each room and committed some small thing to memory. I listened to some small vestiges of my childhood. House full of kids, pets, parents, and memories. Then I turned around, locked the door, and said my goodbyes.

3 thoughts on “Memories of my Father”

  1. Hi Carla

    We have so many wonderful memories to remember our parents by. If only we appreciated them at that time. I miss my parents and there isn’t a day go by that they are in my thoughts.
    My aunts and uncles are all gone now too and that is another memory too of not appreciating them when they were alive. Such is life.
    See you Saturday.

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