Friday, June 19, 2009
This is my father in law Brian with our youngest.
We almost lost Brian this spring. It was touch and go for quite a while and my youngest daughter almost did not get the chance to know the man that her sister and brother call Poppy.
The irony of it all is that it was his heart that betrayed him. Those who know Brian know that the strongest thing about him is his heart. That and his character.
He grew up in Greenwich, in the northeast of PEI, on land that had been in his family for generations. In the cemeteries near Greenwich rest countless Sandersons. This is their land, where they lived and where they passed. Just like Goulais, where our McLeans settled, Greenwich is a part of the old Canada, a Canada of small towns and farms, of life in isolation, surrounded by immense and silent beauty. The Sanderson farmhouse where he grew up is gone now, the dunes and great peninsula that was his father's land a national park. A plaque marks where the old house stood and in the middle of the winter when the storms came howling off the Gulf of the St. Lawrence that homestead must have felt like the other side of the moon.
Brian grew up like my father did and shares so many of the traits of that generation of men who were raised before the flood of modern conveniences changed everything and everyone. Understated and underestimated he is a smaller man in stature but possesses what friends of mine and I called 'Old Man Strength' when we gathered in bars back in the day.
What has this man accomplished? A man you'd pass on the street without a second glance? What strength lies underneath?
He and Sandra raised two daughters with love and tender care and they grew to be women of tremendous character and strength, successful in all that they have pursued.
He is a man who upon the passing of his own beloved father in law, put aside his own grief to do the heavy lifting that surrounds someone's passing, making the arrangements that had to be made.
He has put up more then one ceiling by himself, aided only by a 'dead man'.
He has cuddled his infant grandchildren deep into the night, allowing their exhausted parents a few extra hours of sleep.
In our house he put in a window and laid carpet, created a terraced garden that is the neighbours' envy, put down floor and pulled wire, drywalled and built cabinets. When he comes to visit our friends ask him to come over and advise them on their own projects.
He loves to sail and he knows more about computers than I do (sadly enough my own profession ;) ). He loves lobster and cold beer and a whiskey as a nightcap.
He reads to his grandchildren and he is beloved by the dog. Dogs know what is right in their ancient hearts.
He bites his tongue when he is angry so he doesn't say the wrong thing.
When he does something he learns everything he can about it. He measures once, then again and then one more time to make sure that he has it just right.
He builds things. Homes. Families. Communities.
Broad shoulders and powerful hands. A curious sharp mind and a sense of what is right and wrong. Most of all, a heart of gold.
Happy Fathers Day Brian.
Posted by Black Dog at 6:00 PM