Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!


Grumpy P and Pop, 1965
Yesterday I mentioned that I had a "terrific post planned" for today; I finished it a few minutes ago but I noticed that: a) it said absolutely nothing about my Dad in it; and b) tomorrow is a full day with scant free time to write another blog piece. So I shelved that post until tomorrow and will use today's space to talk a little bit about my Dad and Father's Day. Here is my Dad at 30, horsing around with me (aged 4) at a campground somewhere (my best guess would be Silver Lake Provincial Park near Perth, ON), looking slim and active and impossibly young. We camped a lot when I was a child, first in a heavy, dank old canvas tent which I loved and later (when my Mom got her way) in a pop-up soft-top tent trailer. When we weren't camping we were at my grandparents' cottage in the Laurentians; renting a house for two weeks (or longer) in Old Orchard Beach, ME; taking a month-long cross-country trip to Vancouver Island and back across the northern States; or driving down to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World. We traveled a lot back then and I loved every minute of it. I never got bored on those trips, which I think pleased my Dad no end, no matter how mundane the attraction that we had to stop the car at and visit.

I probably should have burned this picture!
Even as a young adult I still managed to go on trips with my Dad. Here we are in 1982 at a rest stop somewhere in either New Brunswick or Quebec, on our way to Nova Scotia (he with his wife, me with my girlfriend but pulling yet another trailer behind us). And check out that style! I don't know how he allowed himself to be seen in public with me. That was a terrific trip; he and I have tried to go away since then on our own a couple of times but it's never turned out quite as well when it's just the two of us. We've never had many common interests, my Dad and I, and over time there seems to have been less and less to talk about. He and his wife have returned to live in Oshawa now, after having spent many of their retirement years in Bobcaygeon, Buckhorn and Florida, and even though they are less than an hour away we just don't get together very much. His wife's three kids are there all the time, so their home is not quiet...but somewhere along the way we just grew apart, I guess. There was a terrific amount of stress in our family before my Mom and Dad split up when I was 15 and a tremendous amount of animosity between them after that which lives on to this very day. Perhaps that strain was too much for our own relationship to bear, but we've just never been as close as I would think either of us really would like.

Dad's 70th birthday, 2005
But he was sure a dedicated Dad when I was a kid. He taught me how to swim, how to skate, how to ride a bike. I would bug him nightly after dinner (when all he likely wanted to do was read the paper) to come outside with me and play catch. He was there for every 6AM practice on outdoor rinks; he took me to every one of my piano lessons; he showed me how to light a Coleman lantern. He took me to see the Toronto Symphony and showed me how to work out square roots "longhand". And above all of these other wonderful things he did for me, he put a rink in our backyard every winter from the time I was eight until the year I turned fourteen, when Mom finally persuaded him to have a pool put in instead. We had the only backyard rink in the neighbourhood and kids would flock over to play shinny after school and on the weekends on the ice that he so diligently flooded and groomed virtually every night of the winter.

I know it had to be disappointing for him that I never shared his love of working on his own car or finishing a basement, never understood the excitement he felt for plastics (his specialty when he earned his Chemical Engineering degree from McGill); still, I became a very well-rounded young man because of his varied interests and enthusiasm for sharing them. It seems we are destined to always be at arm's length as adults (something I know he learned from his own Dad, sadly), but I will forever treasure the devotion he showed for me while I was a boy.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

And Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there, whether created by nature or by choice. Hope you had a terrific day today.

10 comments:

  1. It's always good to remember the positive influence our parents had in our early lives, especially when they instill a love of music, art, sports or culture. Great road trip photos!

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    1. Heh. Yeah. Now you're just mocking me. I'm going to see if I still own those shorts or *gulp* those socks.

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  2. Learned of this site from David, who said you wrote some pretty nice things about our past relationship. I just wish it could be resurrected.
    Your Dad

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    1. Well, at least you finally found it. (Thanks, bro, for passing the link to the post along.) Hope you had a chance to look around a bit while you were here. There are a couple of other pieces I am pretty proud of.

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    2. haven't had a chance to browse yet, but I wll soon

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    3. That's cool. Thanks for reading this one and especially thanks for the comment. Any chance you can shed any light on where that picture was taken? Well, either picture but especially the one from 1965?

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    4. The 1965 one was Silver lakes and I think the other one was in Nova Scotia, near Cape Breton.
      BTW, your blog sucks up a lot of memory so I have to wait a long time for things to load. I'd love to see "My life in music" but can't access it yet. Suggestions?

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    5. Thanks! 1/2 isn't bad with my guesses.

      That particular post contains 10 embedded YouTube videos, so I think that's why you're having trouble loading it. I have taken a screen shot of the entire blog page which I can send to you if you'd like; it's a .jpg so if you have a good photo viewer you can blow it up to a readable size and just scroll down through it. It won't, however, let you listen to any of the songs so you'd have to go find them yourself on YouTube or somewhere else.

      Shall I send it to you? Or did that page ever load for you?

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    6. I finally learned to "search" for the title you want then open it.When finished, "close" the file which takes you back to the original blog. Things work so much better, thanks

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    7. Oh, yes, I'd forgotten that I changed the default to "open in new window" for my links. It was annoying that people would click on an embedded link in my blog posts and be taken away from the piece they were reading. However, this business with the multiple pages opening up whenever people want to read another post is not what I had in mind. I may have to go back to the original default and then make each embedded link open in a new window by hand on a case-by-case basis.

      But I'm glad you figured it out!

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I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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