On December 13th, 1991 my Dad died of a massive heart attack when he was hiking through the snow (along the trails by the river) taking photographs. A young man tried to save him with CPR to no avail.
In some ways it seems like just yesterday that my friend Kelli informed me that my Dad had died. In other ways I struggle to remember. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of fantastic memories, but things like the sound of his voice, are becoming more and more fuzzy.
When I was 5 my Dad had a triple bypass. I believe this type of bypass surgery began in the late 60s, so it was still very new. I don't remember a lot about that time but I do remember how proud my Dad was of his VERY long chest and leg scars. It was a little icky to the rest of us! I also remember him taking mugs from the hospital because they were great for holding his coffee! Good insulating properties! We were lucky to have had him so long. A nursing friend of mine told me recently that he was very lucky to have lived so long without needing to have another bypass. Perhaps he did but it wasn't caught in time. I always knew that he would go this way. It was just a matter of time. In a way my Dad's death was a gift. It taught me not to take our time for granted and to live. It also taught me to record (in photos and journals) as many memories as possible.
There are many things I remember and many things I admired about my Dad. Here are just a few:
- his drink was a gin and tonic - not often, but definitely on a hot summer's day.
- his hands were huge and he often had a blackened fingernail from hitting it with a hammer. He was a hobby carpenter and was very quick with everything he did - hence the blackened nail!
- when he walked downtown he would say hello to everyone and everyone said hello back. He seemed to know everyone.
- he walked with presence
- he was 3rd (or maybe 2nd) on the seniority list for a large manufacturer in town who recently closed shop. When he walked through the plants he acknowledged everyone
- he expected people to work
- he expected people to be tolerant. Racial slurs were not tolerated.
- he had a strong faith but I don't ever remember him talking about it
- he only had a grade 9 education due to health issues but seemed to be the smartest man I knew
- was very loyal to his friends and family
- was a hobbyist. He taught me that it is essential to have interests outside of your professional job. He worked to live. He dabbled and then delved into photography, stained glass, breeding and showing dogs, woodworking, and jazz music. I remember him telling me on the morning of the day he died, that he intended to take a life drawing course! Nothing about my Dad surprised me. His interests were endless.
- he loved Chelsea Buns and Tea Biscuits
- he read a lot!
- loved watching Hill Street Blues
- had grey then white hair for as long as I can remember. Perhaps I brought on the premature grey!
I've been meaning to post about my Dad for some time and still haven't gotten around to scanning some photos. This is a start. At Christmas I think about family and how important family was to him. He would have adored our kids. Mason is an old soul like my Dad. He would have gotten quite the kick out of Mick and would have loved learning with Mason! My Dad had a sense of humour about death and the after life. He wanted to be buried sitting up so that he could "watch" everyone and he wanted a party - not a funeral! When he died I remember my brother and I discussing where he should be buried in the cemetary - facing Alexanians or Tim Hortons! We chose Alexanians because he was a renovator and not a coffee drinker! Weird - I know! I also remember him saying that he would let loved ones know that he was present. He succeeded.