Last month I lost my father.  There, I said it.  It’s out there.  It’s amazing the amount of people who’ve said to me, “Oh, I had no idea.  Why didn’t you tell me?”.  Well, let’s see.  A.) How could you have known, unless you can somehow communicate with the dead, in which case we can no longer be friends, and B.) Because it’s not generally something one announces.  “Hi.  How’s it going?  My Dad died.”  Cue the awkward silence.  Should I have tweeted it?  Changed my Facebook status?  Not my style.

So I blog instead.  I know, the irony is palpable.  Why the hell would I write a piece on the internet about it, you ask?  Believe it or not, I really did agonize over whether or not to post this.  At first I thought it would seem like a violation somehow; a family matter that was nobody’s business.  Attention seeking at it’s most primitive.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s not what it is.  I’m proud.  Proud of my Dad and the man he was, and the person I am because of both of my parents.  Which is why I spoke at his funeral.  It was a way to honour him, and all I’m hoping to do is honour him further.  This is his eulogy.+

 I couldn’t make up my mind whether I should stand up here and talk about my Dad, or keep silent and let everyone remember him in their own way: as Husband, Granddad, Uncle, Brother, friend, and neighbour.  Those of you who know me well, know that I can never keep silent.  However, as my Dad was a man of few words, I’ll keep this short.  You will always have your own memories to cherish, I just wanted give you a glimpse of who he was to me. 
He was my Dad.  He kissed me goodnight every night of my childhood, and I kissed him goodnight in the latter part of his life; and always we smiled at each other like fathers and daughters do.
He had more patience than anyone I’ve ever known, none of which I inherited. 
I remember learning to ride a bike.  Not because I fell and scraped my knee, although that did happen.  It’s the memory of seeing my Dad, a man of 6’1”, peddling down the hill at Thompson Park at breakneck speed, on my little bicycle, just to show me how easy it was.  I can also recall that being the first time I’d ever heard the phrase “a mountain on a molehill”.  But if he could ride it, then so could I.
He taught me how to fish.  When I cast just a little too hard and threw myself in along with the line, he also fished me out of the lake, laughing the whole time.  I didn’t say he taught me well, but I did survive to fish again.
He took me to my very first baseball game, back when the Jay’s were still fairly new…and sucked…before they won 2 World Series and then became old… and sucked again.  About 10 years ago I took him to his last baseball game.  And through it all, he was a die-hard fan.  When I was old enough to form my own opinion on the management capabilities of the likes of Bobby Cox and Jimy Williams, he never wavered, trusting them to bring a title to Toronto.  His dedication finally paid off.  And in the 20 long years since, he remained just as loyal.
Christmas mornings were always special around our house.  I can still see Mum and Dad watching me open presents with as much joy as I had opening them.  And for the past 18 years, the three of us would sit and watch Nathan open presents with that same goofy look.  Then Dad would clear away the giant heap of wrapping paper, (because even stocking stuffers had to be wrapped), and we’d all get ready for a big dinner with the rest of the family; an event I think my Dad looked forward to almost as much as the present opening.  Because, no word of a lie, when it came time to open the Christmas crackers at the dinner table, we all knew what my Dad would get in his – the whistle.  It was fate, it seemed, destined to drive us all a little nutty. 
If the whistle had been confiscated, his wine glass became a worthy substitute.  A little wine on the tip of his finger and my Dad was able to produce a high-pitched sound that was sure to annoy all adults in the room, amaze the children who all thought it was magic, including me, and send any pets fleeing from the room in search of the closest doggy door.  I remember thinking, “I want to do that too!!”  And he did teach me, however a duet would have had us banished from all future family gatherings.  But don’t worry Dad, I’ll take up the reins. 
My Father was always such a proud Granddad.  His face would light up the minute we walked in the door for a visit.  I’d like to say it was all because of me, but I’d be lying.  He loved Nathan dearly, and was loved in return. 
Children always gravitated to my Dad.  He could make a baby laugh with a few words, where the rest of us would all but stand on our heads with no results.  I think babies could just sense the gentleness in him; a quiet presence that didn’t need a lot of attention. 
Because he was a quiet man, clearly something else that I didn’t inherit.  But he and I could sit in a room and be quite happy in each other’s company.  It was just his way.
Though, my Dad did have a great sense of humour, (a trait I believe I inherited in droves), sometimes at the expense of others.  While still living at home in London, his little sister would tidy the house and adjust and fluff the pillows in the sitting room.  My Dad would lie in wait for her to leave the room, and then rearrange and un-fluff wherever possible.  But it wasn’t just practical jokes.  He loved comedy, particularly anything of the British variety.  In the days before Parental Advisories, I grew up watching Benny Hill, not by choice of course.  I didn’t get most of the jokes, but it didn’t matter.  It was what my Dad was watching.  And it made him laugh.
My Dad was all of these things, and more.  If you knew him, even briefly, remember him.  If you never had the privilege, come and see me.  I have a lot more stories to tell.

One response to “Requiem

  • Mom.

    It was a very touching eulogy to Dad Jenn. You delivered it so well at his funeral service. He would have been so proud of you!

    Your loving Mom.

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