Gifts From My Dad

I can’t even tell you the number of times my Dad was rushing off to help someone in need. Sometimes that looked like taking a 2-3 hour phone call to provide an empathetic ear or to sit quietly with a family so it wasn’t just the family and grief in the room. Sometimes it meant going to the hospital to help someone ill or injured, to the police station to help someone who had been arrested, or to an apartment building where someone was being unfairly treated by their landlord. Sometimes it meant going shopping to buy a fridge or bicycle to give to someone to help with food sustainability and mobility. What you or I might call kindness and generosity, my Dad would call the right thing to do, the human thing to do.

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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.

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Talking Changes

Anything that I gleaned about what he did while he was away from home during the day was from bits and pieces, clues, and just missed conversations between him and my mom as I walked in the room.

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Wanted: Steel Toed Boots

The global pandemic has created a bizarre fear that my trusted family and friends pose a threat to the well-being of my child. They were there for all of our most important moments, achievements and failures alike, but now we need to tell them all to stay away, for an unclear amount of time. How do you tell your Dad that he can’t visit his first grandchild, or that your mother-in-law shouldn’t come over to help her daughter recover from birth?

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My hands trembled as I held this fragile little human for the first time. I didn’t even know how to hold him properly, let alone change his diaper. Fatherhood is tricky at the beginning. I found myself waking up in the night just to check if he was breathing. Eventually, my anxiety eased and I become much more comfortable.

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And pushing to think more than once if its right. And checking the work sometimes saying ‘no not quite’. And revealing the dark is just truth without light.

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From the get-go he was providing information and feedback. Some days it was like come here, be quiet, get off of that, stop hurting your sister, stop bothering your brother, go to sleep, stay out of the forest, and so much more. Dad taught me what it was like to be a peacekeeper and how to maintain law and order.

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Dad’s Gold

Humour is often the healing he offers the world. The boys know this and the many names that he creatively conjures for neighbours, friends, strangers. But they don’t know that his most golden moments were spent standing with me in our combined grief with the prognosis of a permanently disabled child and balancing both rock solid strength and loving empathy on a the pin head of each day until we were both okay with it all.

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