Friday, June 17, 2011

My Father, My Daddy

My 1st Birthday.  

When I was about ten I complained to my Dad that I hated my front teeth.  I have one tooth that's slightly crooked and tends to overlap my other one a tiny little bit and for this I wanted braces.  Oh to have perfectly straight teeth. He looked at me in all seriousness and said "Why would you want braces?  Your teeth give you character." And it's with that one sentence that I accepted my slightly crooked tooth.

Dad's are good for that.

My Dad.  I have so, so many wonderful and vivid memories of my Dad growing up.  My parents separated when I was 5 and the arrangement was that he would take my brother and I every other week-end.  The first 6 months after he moved out he lived in a tent.  It was AWESOME to us that every time we went to visit him we were camping.  He cooked most of his food over a fire too.  Tents, cooking beans, eggs and popcorn over a fire - now that's real camping.

I don't know many people that would camp out for 6 days let alone 6 months but that's just my Dad.  He would be happy to live in van down by the river I'm sure.  And speaking of vans...he had an inexplicable love for vans (REAL vans, you know the kind that had beds in them and curtains in the windows? - yeah those)  I have many a fond memory of falling asleep in the back of his van while watching movies at the Drive-In.  

My father is the most unmaterialistic, non-judgemental person I know.  He still wears the same clothes that he wore when I was 10.  You think I'm exaggerating.  Believe me.  Anything with a logo is far faded and I'm pretty sure you could see through most of them.  Bah - what's it to him?  It's comfortable!

He is also kind and gentle and it's perhaps because of his disposition that all children are always drawn to him.  It also may be his affinity and genuine curiosity of nature and all things living (well, except ants but that's because he sat on a red ant hill as a very young boy and has yet to get over it).  When we were camping (trailers and the like were a novelty for us - we always tent camped) we found a mouse ... my brother and I named him Mickey and my Dad actually let us play with this mouse like it was our tame little pet and not a creepy dirty rodent with possible diseases.  Oh God, when I think about ever allowing my kids to do something like that it makes my skin crawl.  He took us fishing quite a bit and one time allowed us to bring home a couple of sunfish in the cooler.  They died the next morning of course.  Questionable, these experiences, I know, but we learned lessons.

Such as fish do not thrive nor survive in coolers.

Questionable is also giving your kid sugary, instant coffee in the morning, a tipple of sherry with dinner and letting your kids take the steering wheel while sitting on your lap driving around a parking lot.

Questionable now yet fantastic to us at the time.

My Dad, of-course being the fact that he only had us 2 week-ends a month, was the 'fun guy'.  My poor Mum - single, working full time and raising 2 children on her own...I'm sure it was hard for her when we may have implicated she was the 'bad guy' because she never did anything 'fun' with us. I have all the respect and more for her today (sorry about that Mumma).

My Dad taught me how to ride a bike setting me up on top a long hill outside of our house and letting me go....until I fell.  Over and over again until I got the hang of it.  He took my brother and I on many, many bike riding adventures and (gasp) we would bike across town with NO helmets.  One in particular sticks out in my mind.  We were biking along a path way and we came across a small stream.  We stopped to take a look and see what we neat critters would could find.  (He loved doing stuff like this - we'd also go crawfish hunting in small rivers and catch snakes in fields with grass as tall as us)

There it was.

A very large looking turtle.

I recall in school at that time, we had been studying reptiles and this turtle quite resembled the kind of the snapping variety.  My Dad got it in his head that he wanted to 'feed' the turtle.  So he dangled a piece of grass or weed far too close to the very large turtles mouth.

I warned him.  I told him it was a snapping turtle and it was going to bite his finger off but oh no.  What did I know?  I was just a little 8 year old girl.

The turtle's neck came out of it's shell so fast and that sharp mouth snapped at my Dad's fingers. We all jumped back in alarm.

Told ya Dad.

He instilled in me a love for exercise and we went for the occasional run together.  He was always playing some sport or, bowling, golf.  My father is a phenomenal golfer.  I sadly did not inherit his athletic ability but I love being active.

My Dad always took us to fun amusement parks and went on all the big roller coaster rides with us but he also introduced us to theatre, museums, horseback riding and cave exploring.

But the beach was my favourite place to go with my Dad.  We'd dig the biggest holes, play football (he taught me how to throw a proper spiral), feed the seagulls french fries, swim, swim, swim, diving off of his shoulders.  We'd stay there until the sun was practically setting.

I remember him also showing us how to use a magnifying glass and the sun's reflection to burn my brother's name into his baseball glove.

Now that's a handy survival trick.

In the winter, tobogganing was where it was at.  We'd spend hours at the huge tobogganing hills sledding down and trudging up, dowwwnnnn, up we'd go...he might have been exhausted but he'd never let us know.  Now having kids of my own I know how tiring it can be!  He would take us to Tim Horton's for hot chocolate and a donut afterwards.  What a treat.

My cousins, brother and I loved using my Dad as a jungle gym.  He'd give us piggy backs, rocket rides and horseback rides.  Sometimes there'd be 3 of us on him at one time.  My boys love to climb all over him now.  Some things never change.

He taught me how to play cards and shuffle them like a bridge - otherwise known as riffle shuffling.  I feel like a serious professional pulling that one out.

Crazy 8's and Go Fish graduated to Cribbage, Euchre and 21.  His side of the family gets together for card and Domino tournaments to this day.  Always fun and full of laughter....I miss them.

Music.  I believe I got my love of music from my Dad (I also unfortunately got his legs and terrible nail biting habit).  He also introduced me to the world of Karoke at far too young of an age at a local smoke filled bar.  But I got a taste of it and there's no going back once you get up on a stage and belt out "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher.

My Dad was a bachelor for much of his life.  He  lived on his own and he liked it that way for the most part I think.  It worried me.  I never wanted him to grow old alone. Who wants to do that?  About 10 years ago he met the love of his life.  I'm so happy he did...other than the fact that his house is now ... well ... beautifully decorated and much less man cave like (although he still has the basement 'man cave' where he listens to his music and watches sports).

They are a perfect complement to one another and he's happier than I've ever seen him.

My father, my Daddy.

Yes, I still call him Daddy occasionally.

I am 33 years old but he's still Daddy to me.  And I know I will always be my Daddy's baby girl.

Just as my sons will always be my baby boys.

That will never change - even when they have babies of their own.

I can only hope that Adrian and Finley grow up to have some the wonderful characteristics of their Poppa.

As Adrian always says, "He's a great man".

It makes me smile from the inside out, my response always the same, "Yes, honey.  Yes he is."

One of my favourites of my Dad and I taken when I was
pregnant with Adrian.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Beautiful GG. Your father would love it if he had a computer.