Saturday, June 16, 2012
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.
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.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:10 PM