By Les Kerr, talking about his dad Don.
My dad was not the hug kind of guy. He was always quiet, but could be counted on in many ways that I didn’t always find inspiring. He had been in poverty during the Depression having lost his mom when he was 4 and enlisted early in WW2. A lot of situations that I can’t really comprehend. Then he married mom and started a family. I was number one. Then there were 3 more siblings with one dying soon after being born.
That’s dad’s early days. I never really knew what he thought but he was always there. A great provider he was. He wanted me and all of we kids to do better than he had done. I got that. He had built many things around our house as well as the house so the table saw was often set up in the basement.
When I was about 12 years old autumn was turning into winter and up went the saw right at the bottom of the basement stairs. Something was said about a cabinet being built. I had no interest and was not encouraged to help out. I never did with his projects. So on his project went with plywood chips in the air for about a month. Pieces began to be stacked up here and there downstairs.
Home from school and I was out with my friends and when my dad wasn’t working his continual shift work, he was down at the table saw with his carpenter pencil behind his ear. I felt he would be done soon as Christmas was coming. Also, paint smells caught my nostrils here and there. Still, I had no interest or curiosity about whatever he was building.
Two days before Christmas the sawing and painting ended. The pieces of plywood were stacked against the wall, green coloured I thought. Strange colour I thought as I headed out to the outdoor hockey rink half a block away. The Christmas tree had been up for over a week and had all of my attention, except for occasionally peeking around to see if any gifts might be seen. In their closet… or the upstairs cubby hole or the cedar chest? What would I being getting for Christmas?
Finally, excruciatingly slowly Christmas morning had arrived. I burst into the living room where we began tearing into our wrapped gifts. I don’t remember what I got but when the last gift had been opened, dad said “I’ve got a last gift for you, Leslie”. He brought me to the head of the basement stairs and said “go see”. I went down and found that he had made me a ping pong table all green with white trim. He taught me how to play and before long my friends and I wiled away many hours of fun from that surprise Christmas gift.
I played a lot with dad also. He let me win often. Thanks dad! My dad died 15 years ago this week and has been in my thoughts plenty. My memoir writing has also stirred my memory banks, drawing dad back in close. Sometimes when I shave, I see him shaving with his old Gillette safety razor, extending his neck to get a close shave. Thanks Chris, for this opportunity to bring this memory of dad fresh into my life today.