For my Dad, on Father's Day
Hello, friends! Today is father’s day, and I decided that since I can’t be with my amazing dad today, that the best thing I could do would be to write him a blog post about how much he has meant to me, and what an incredible human being he is. My Dad is a big, burly, former football player who loves flowers, baby animals, and cries in emotional commercials. He always claimed that this is a bi-product of being the only man in a household of women, but I’m not buying it. He’s a big softy. I once asked my Mom how she knew she wanted to marry my Dad, and she said that he made her feel safe, they loved throwing parties together, and she knew he’d be an amazing father. She was certainly right about that.
My family, in many ways, had a lot of reversed traditional gender roles, which as an adult I appreciate with gratitude. While my Mom stayed home with us when we were small, once she started her career at the university, my Dad was the one who was home with us in the after school hours, (and who’d get us in trouble if he caught us doing our homework in front of the TV.) Mom didn’t get home from work until much later, and on most days, Dad would make dinner for our family. He didn’t believe in leftovers, or one pot dinners. Cooking was his hobby, but I marvel now, looking back, that he made three different things for dinner every night. Often, he conscripted us as labour, which was annoying at the time, but actually taught me all the fundamentals of cooking. I eat well today, at least partially because my Dad gave me these lessons.
They say that our parents are our first teachers, and it’s funny to me, looking back, the things that I didn’t notice what he was teaching me, until the lessons had been learned. Of course, there are many things I do remember as lessons at the time, such as riding a bike, or playing baseball. I remember when he coached my first baseball team, and we lost every. Single. Game. And sure, that was discouraging, but I remember coming home with my Dad and joking to my Mom that we finally won one. We never did. And he always gave that old adage, ‘it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game’. There were no participation ribbons back then, and what I remember most about that time was that my Dad was there with me, and it was something we shared. That’s what winning really looks like.
As I got older, my Dad taught me to think critically, and he loved nothing more than to provoke me into a debate. I think he often took the opposite side just to be antagonistic, for the sport of it, and poor Michelle and Mom would just push back their chairs once we got going. They knew at that point they weren’t getting a word in edgewise. Dad was always there to offer key pieces of advice, like ‘you can’t judge a 19 year old boy by the same standards with which you would judge yourself’, which I extended to apply to all people. You can’t judge anyone by the same standards with which you would judge yourself.
Dad also taught me what it is to show grace in the face of pain, which has been a heartbreaking lesson to see at times. He has suffered from chronic pain for much of his life due to old football injuries, and now due to Arthritis, and for the most part, you would never guess it. When we went to Wonderland two years ago together, I kept asking if he wanted to take breaks and he never did. He just wanted to keep going, and ride the front of all the biggest rollercoasters in the park. I knew by the end of the day he must have been hurting, but he didn’t want to focus on the hurt, he wanted to focus on the fun.
My Dad has always been the guy focusing on the fun. Dancing without a care, throwing amazing parties with my mom, singing while he cooks, whistling with an insane ability level (he can whistle the flight of the bumblebees!) or having entire conversations with me in jibberish. I’ve also caught him flirting with my Mom on a great many occasions, and to this day, he still says she’s the most beautiful woman in every room she is in. That kind of love is so beautiful to see, and I’m so grateful that I got to grow up witnessing it.
My Dad is also a storyteller, which is another gift he passed down to me. When we were young, he created a whole series of stories about a boy named Shine, the warrior for the side of good, that will soon be passed down to a new generation of tiny humans, who will listen reverentially, piled on the bottom bunk at the cottage. Such beautiful traditions are meant to continue.
My Dad is a Papa now, to my two little nephews Noah and Max, who adore him to the moon and back. The feeling is very much mutual. I watch my Dad with the boys, and I see the same engagement that he always had with us, loving, connected, and in a way that honoured all of our gifts. So, thank you, Daddy, for being the most amazing father any three little girls could possibly have asked for. You have always been, and remain, my hero.
Photo credit for the banner image goes to Scott Turnbull. Photo credit for all the childhood photos go to my Mom, the family documenteur! Thanks, Mom!