My dad has been gone for 21 years now, almost as long as I knew him. I still miss him, I’m not sure I’ll ever have a day when I don’t. It probably doesn’t help that my husband and I bought a house not far from where he grew up in Parkdale. When I drive along Lakeshore Blvd past the Sunnyside pool and the Toronto Argonauts club, I think of the pictures that I have of dad and his friends at the pool or at the club.
I think some of the most interesting photos I have are from when he and my godfather rowed for the Argos. They began when they were in high school and it lasted for many years after. The guys that they rowed with became lifetime friends, and I grew up with the kids from these friendships. To this day one of my oldest and dearest friends is Lisa, whose dad rowed with mine. I like to look back at all the pictures that documented my Dad’s life, when he was younger at school, when he was rowing with the Argos, when he was modeling for Simpsons, then on to the times spent with my mom at our cottage and finally when I arrived.
My Dad was a great guy, nice, friendly, good-looking and a wonderful father. He would drive me to school every day when I went to TMS, it would be our time we could talk about all sorts of things he would let me listen to CFTR or CHUM back in those days, learning the new music with me. He would give me good advice and sometimes we’d just sit in companionable silence. Every once and a while I could persuade him to stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream, we’d never tell my mom though, it was our secret. When it was dinner time and my mom would call us, we’d meet in the doorway of the kitchen and dance each other to the table, “ta da ta da ta da”, we had our own little song. We’d shovel the long circular drive way together in the winter, developing a rhythm and pattern to doing it quickly and efficiently, there seemed to be way more snow then. He taught me how to row and how to build a good fire, and he always gave me a hug when I needed it the most.
In the winter, we used to get up at 5am and go out to the pond and skate for an hour before coming in for breakfast, it was so magical being out in the cold winter mornings. It was always just the 2 of us, and the dog. It would still be dark so we’d turn the light on the side of the house that would barely reach the pond, just giving us enough light to make our way to the ice. The stars would still be out and sometimes even the moon would light our way. We’d skate until the sun began to rise, then hurry in, rosy-cheeked, to get ready for our day.
I remember once, in high school, when I decided to have my friends over for a skating party, I had shoveled the pond off and was going to flood it so it would be smooth. Instead of filling the garbage pail with water, which was too heavy for me but was what my Dad used to do, I attached the hose to one end of the tap in the basement and then took the other end out to the pond. There I was, my hose spraying cold water out onto the surface of the ice, but I couldn’t get that back corner the hose was stuck on something so I gave it a tug, ah, there it goes, now it reaches the back corner, but hey, I’ve lost my water. As I looked at the hose in confusion, I heard my dad whistle, I turned around to see him soaking wet. I had tugged the hose so hard that it had ripped the faucet out from the sink and my dad had run over to turn the fountain of water off. I had a very hard time keeping a straight face, it was a good thing that he had a sense of humor and saw the funny side of that whole situation.
So many memories of my Dad, so many little things that I remember and so many things I wish I could tell him now. My parents spent the 3 weeks before he died in England. He got to see the Henley rowing races, which was a life long dream. However, he never got to meet my husband, he died a year before we met, I know he would have really liked him. He never got to see us buy our 1st home or our cottage.
The Heart & Stroke Polo Fundraiser was the weekend after my parents came home from England. My mother had become a member since my dad had been diagnosed with a heart issue a few years earlier. As usual, when my mom joined, we all joined, so we were working the tables at the games. My Dad had decided he was hungry and went to the tent for a quiet bite to eat. He had a stroke while having his lunch, the paramedics were on site and were there in seconds, whisking him away to the hospital, he died 5 days later.
I know where ever he is now, he’s watching over the people he loved. I know that he’s making good friends and having a lot of fun. I always smile when I think of him, I miss him very much. I am grateful that I had such an amazing Dad for even a short time, he made me feel very loved.
Happy Fathers Day Dad,