I have not written in my blog for a few months now. I’ve tried, but I am blocked. Although my stories are not chronological, there is one that must be told before I can move on.
My Father died on June 8th, 2017. The previous month he was golfing three days a week and driving himself to the golf course as if he was 35.
He was 95, and even though he was meticulously prepared for the event, I was not. For the last few years, time during many of my interim visits was shared with him reviewing his estate book with me; six inches of paper in a plastic covered three ring binder that described his estate holdings, expressed his dying wishes and planned his funeral arrangements. Last year, he asked me to write his obituary and while I procrastinated for months before starting, it was finished in time for him to edit and print the final narrative. Then he showed it to his friends! For Dad was proud of his life and accomplishments; service to his country during war, success at business in his prime and father to a strong loving family whose daughter and son modelled the lessons learned from both mom and dad in raising their own.
In reflection, his preparation was an escalating recognition of his mortality and his acceptance of the inevitability of death. For me, he was asking me to help pack for a trip that I would not be invited to join, and so I selfishly hoped he would be denied the journey. Such of course was not the case.
Dad was born in 1922 and as he turned seven, trans-Canada radio broadcasts were in their infancy, women were finally adjudged persons and given the right to vote and the great depression was solidly entrenched throughout North America. While not a child of privilege, he lived a privileged life. He worked hard and made opportunities for himself that advanced him ahead of many others. He married young and loved large and together, mom and dad made close friends and enjoyed a social circle whose purpose was oft defined through their service to community.
During his war service Dad had technical functions to perform and the responsibility to teach to others. During his career he introduced technology to one of Canada’s leading department stores. Yet, he fumbled with the TV remote, never could master the internet and was awestruck when I hooked him up with his grandchildren on SKYPE or Facetime. He was an enigma whose personal traits were somewhat frustrating, especially when I saw a reflection of them in myself.
Mom died too early as Dad entered retirement following a rough road of sacrifices that are normal in life. That only one was allowed to mine the wealth of the golden years was unjust to both and felt sadly by those the closest to them. But Dad remarried, and new opportunities arose as each and both of them moved forward into a future shared in the sunshine of their everyday living and the twilight of their remaining lives. And that twilight lasted another 25 happy years.
Dad will be missed. He was a man that was loved by his family, respected by his peers, enjoyed by his friends and endearing to everyone he met. He was a character that provided and will continue to provide remembrances and comical anecdotes for many to tell over many years to come. There will never be a golf game where I won’t feel him near and there will never be a restaurant tab I check over closely without remembering him doing the same.
Some quirky traits and habits that he had are now in me. Oft times I am chastised by others when they surface, which in the past made me frustrated that I’d so easily learned them from him. But now they are mine without apology, unique to me, and will be worn like a badge of honour in memory of a man and father that lived a full and rewarding life.