My father was a good man. He was kind and peaceful. His life was never easy but he dealt with it – whatever it was.
Dad was born premature, weighing one and a half pounds. His father bundled him up, put him in the sleigh and hauled him off to town to be baptized. On the way to town, the sleigh hit a rut and overturned. Dad was thrown into a snow bank. He survived (obviously). If I know my Dad, he was laughing when they found him.
When my Dad was old enough, he was sent to a convent where his classes were taught in French. When he was in grade two, his mother suffered a serious stroke. My Dad went to work for a storekeeper, spending his days sitting in the basement of a store removing eyes from potatoes. His father needed help feeding his family and paying medical and care bills for his mother. As always, Dad did what he could do to help.
As a teenager, Dad went to the city to work with his brother, Herman. A few months later he returned home with Herman’s body. Herman had died a victim of tuberculosis. Dad was by his side, holding his hand when he passed away – then he brought him home to be buried in a grave marked by a concrete gravestone that he designed and made for him.
After Herman’s death, Dad stayed home to help the family. He became a licenced bartender and a true craftsman at applying stucco. Although his formal education had been so short, Dad never allowed that to limit his options. After my parents married, Dad went to work at an Airforce training base during World War Two. (At five foot nothing and color blind to boot, the army wasn’t looking to send him into battle). After the war, my parents moved up north, where Dad supported our growing family with his stuccoing skills. When they moved to southern Manitoba, he entered the auto body trade. When I was three, we moved back to Saskatchewan. My parents purchased an autobody shop which they ran until they retired.
After retirement, my parents enjoyed a few easier years. They would visit my siblings and I on a regular basis. At my home, Dad could always find yard work to keep him happy and occupied. When we moved to a home with a large, neglected yard, Dad was in his glory for years!
In 1989, when Dad was eighty years old, just months after celebrating his fiftieth anniversary with Mom, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer of the sinuses. He passed away four years later, on December 17th, 1993. Losing a loved one is always difficult, watching my Dad waste away for four years from this insideous disease was heart wrenching beyond belief. It was also incredibly inspiring and such an honor to witness the strength, grace and dignity that he displayed throughout his final years.
Rest in peace, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!
Fyi Father’s Day is on June 21st. At least one of my sons keeps track. Same son who informed me I was 59 when I was pretty sure I was 48🙄