Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fathers




My old man is going to be eighty on Tuesday. Isn't that something? He's still going strong even if he's slowed down a bit. He's not the man he once was but he's pretty damn close and all I can hope is that in thirty five years plus that I'll be carrying on like he still can.

 I've talked about Dad on this blog numerous times. You can check the tag on the side 'My Old Man' but here is one of my favourites. He's an old school before TV type of guy. He has what my friends referred to as 'old man strength', built up from years and years of physical activity and labour, enormous hands and popeye forearms. As a young man he played ball and boxed but his sport was hockey, good enough that he was scouted by the Wings and offered a minor league contract. He can play guitar and rebuild an engine and wire and plumb a home. He built our sauna and sleepcamp from the ground up. He prospected in Newfoundland where he shot a black bear then came into his tent one morning (first thing I grabbed was my rifle, good thing I didn't grab a frying pan he jokes) and started his career in Uranium City in cold so bitter that bare skin would freeze in a less than a minute. As a teenager he was a firespotter, working with a World War II vet who had flown Spitfires and whose idea of fun was buzzing moose and doing loop de loops in the Beaver bush plane they used to look for forest fires.

 He is a man from a simpler time when hard work and smarts could lead to an upper management job in a company where he started work as a surveyor on a construction crew. He's a guy who received a standing ovation at his retirement party, a spontaneous burst of affection that left him in tears.

 He's from a big raucous family that likes to have a good time and when we get together every couple of years he is invariably the last one of his generation left standing with the youngsters (as he famously said a decade ago at 3am by a Northern Ontario lake - 'everyone went to bed except me and all you young punks'.)

 Most importantly in a life well lived he is a good man and that manifests itself in his roles as a father and grandfather and when all is said and done there is nothing more important than that. I hope that we have many more years together and whenever I see him we enjoy ourselves immensely.

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 Was on twitter some time ago and a fellow who goes by the handle of @67sound summed up parenthood thusly (and I paraphrase) - you'd better love it because the work is neverending.

 Its a grind is what it is, at least at times, especially when you're all in, as I am. There's no other way to go about it though and when talking to a cousin the eve of his marriage a couple of years back about family I told him what I feel to be true. If you're a dad you have to be all in. I knew a guy when we lived in Florida who would call for his wife as soon as the baby spit or shit or looked sideways. His poor harried wife wanted to go shopping with Jenn - her husband split on his boat immediately - and I offered to take care of their little guys. She could hardly believe it. I could hardly believe what a tool her husband was.

 With us there's no choice in the matter anyhow. At least two days a week and sometimes four my wife is gone before the kids are up and home after they hit the hay. I feed and clothe and change diapers (no more however) and pack lunches and run them to their sports and activities and at the end of the day I crack a beer and talk to them about their day and answer their questions and take it all in. It won't be long (our oldest is nine this fall) before they will stop believing that I can walk on water and will likely have little to do with me and while I know that that will pass I also know that these days are short and I'd better enjoy them while I can.

 Father's Day will see my oldest run a 5k that is part of a terrific program that she is part of called Girls on the Run. I'll be up early to go and cheer her on and then in the afternoon, depending on the weather, I am either going to have a nap or go sit on a patio and have a couple of pints. Its my day after all. ;)

 Then a steak dinner with the family and a phone call to my old man who will invariably forget that the phone is not a tin can tied to a string and will shout loudly enough that if I step outside I could probably hear him from 400 km away.

 My old man.

9 comments:

Lowetide said...

Beautiful. Make that call last a long time.

Tapdog said...

Wow great stuff. All I can say is to take any opportunity to reach out to your dad as often as you can.

I lost my dad last August and today on way to visit his grave site I stopped for a coffee at Tim Horton's, while in line I looked in my rear view mirrow and the guy in the car behind me was a vision of my dad. I paid the girl for his coffee and asked her to tell him Happy Fathers day!

Take that time! Happy Fathers day to all you dads out there.

Thanks for posting this!

Tapdog

Bar Qu said...

You're right Pat, it is an all-in job, but I can't believe I am allowed to do it. I figured I should have had to apply to have great kids like I do.

Its a good day and a nice chance to reflect on the men who made us what we are.

Enjoy your pint.

Loxy said...

You've inspired me. I should write a blog post sometime. Actually, I should get one of my old boyfriends to post it as he was the kind of dad they hate, but I'm now amused by it. He's softer now, probably because my current choice will be the final/best choice, and he sees that, so he doesn't want to scare of the poor little Australian.

While I don't have the ticking clock of kids inside me, I love the idea of my dad as a granddad. Luckily my younger brother and his wife are on the path to familydom.

But what I was going to get at is that I've been watching James May's Man Lab. He's one of the guys from BBC's top gear. The show talks about all the skills the modern man has lost.. building and fixing and making. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_May%27s_Man_Lab)

Anyways, it's a fun little show that helped me learn how to diffuse a bomb and make a cement countertop.

Max Powers said...

Tomorrow is a good fathers day for me :D I get to spend it with my old man and my 8 year old boy, who also is in the latter stages of thinking his dad is god-like. But he still does and, to be honest, I do too :)

Happy fathers day people, I will enjoy my dad as much I possibly can while he's still around. That much I can promise.

@eastcoasteh said...

Nicely done. Your days sound a lot like mine!
Keep up the good work on the blog and have a good one.

PS. I'm holding out hope that on father's day we get #94 signed to a reasonable contract for next year.

Woodguy said...

Nice post Pat.

I miss calling Dad about the small things.

Sometimes you knew what Dad would say, but you'd call anyway to have a conversation.

I love being a Dad.

Best thing in the world.

Happy Father's Day Pat.

Bruce said...

Happy Father's Day, Pat. These are the best ones, when you still have your own dad to look up to, and your own little ones looking up to you.

My dad passed in 2007, and my son moved to PEI last August, so I don't know what sort of day to expect. I guess I'll be pounding pretty hard on the happy memories. Lucky for me I've got lots of those.

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind comments everyone and Happy Father's Day!! Having that pint right now and then a nap. Great day.