Thursday, June 07, 2007

This One's For You, Pops

I know that when you were a boy, you tried hard. Although you didn't always have it easy, you put up a tough exterior that masked some of what you held inside. You were a star in your own right - lacrosse and track and field were your specialties back then and you excelled at both. It was a different time then...though you had the trophies, I don't know that you got the attention you deserved. You were a champion, as well as a rebel. Although your image sometimes cast you in a negative light (especially with teachers and figures of "authority") you were also the one who jumped to the aid of the underdog. As you grew older, you were always the tough guy with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth...a cross between James Dean, John Wayne and Elvis. You had a swagger and were "cool" - cool enough to pull off lavender cologne. Even on the fishboat, you were GQ in your slick duds. (I had a particular picture in mind when I wrote this part but I can't find it at the moment...you on the boat in your cream colored suit with your fancy wristwatch...I'll reserve this spot for when I find it).

I always loved the story Mom told of when I was born. Yours was a "rough" crowd who spent their time fishing, hunting and in the bar. But, from the minute I was born, I was your pride and joy and your focus shifted. Apparently you'd ignore the jeers from your peers as you'd stroll me through Steveston in my pram - right past the windows of the Bucaneer Room (the local pub). You didn't care that the guys called you names because you'd ditched them for me...you were a father, and proud as punch about that. Besides, you could've cleaned all their clocks if you'd wanted to.

As a fisherman, you were away a great deal throughout my childhood and I missed you so. I always worried when there was a storm and I'd lie awake at night, listening to the closet doors rattling and praying that you'd come home safe. You always did...you were dependable like that.

I'll never forget that one phone call in the middle of the night...my worst nightmare. I knew, by the tone of Mom's voice and the urgency of the conversation, that something was terribly wrong. My heart sank as I feared the worst. Your boat had sunk but even that couldn't stop you from coming home to your family. You swam, leg crushed in 16 places, to the safety of the shore. You are the bravest man I know.

When Mom had her aneurysm you were out on the boat, but you rushed back to her side and never left it. I remember in the Holy Family Hospital when they called the families of the stroke victims in for a meeting as it was time to decide where to place our loved ones. Most men were arranging for care homes as they didn't wanted to assume responsibility for their wives. I remember feeling sad when I learned that the lady Mom shared a room with wouldn't be going home...her husband said he "couldn't do it". This was never an option for you...you wouldn't even consider it. You were taking Mom home and that was the end of that - you'd care for her. Till death do you part were words that you took very seriously. And that's exactly what you did...it would've been 20 years this August since you devoted your life to caring for her after her paralysis. And 50 years of marriage soon.

I've never known a man so great. One who assumed the responsibility of everything from the cooking, cleaning, shopping, yardwork, laundry and that's before we even get into the personal care that you gave Mom. Even sewing, although I don't know that gluing things together with Speed Sew counts. You tried. ;)

Every week Mom had fresh flowers in a vase on her night table that you'd place there from your garden. You'd ask her, each and every meal, just what it was that she fancied...then paid close attention to every detail. You even made homemade pies and cakes, in between doing your chores. Your meals were always prepared with love, with ingredients you'd either caught or grown. And there was always plenty left for us - I'll always appreciate the hot doggie bags delivered to my door. To this day, you always make sure everyone's looked after, although sometimes you forgot about "you".

I was in awe when I saw you take Mom out on the boat with you as you continued to work while caring for her. What a chore that was...getting someone handicapped onto a herring skiff and then staying up all night, tending to the net, steering the boat and catering to her needs...you never sat down. And you never complained - it was just what you had to do, but I know how hard it was. I'd tire after a few short hours of caring for Mom....you did it 24/7. Looking back, I honestly don't know how you did it.

When you were blindsided by a driver running a red, the only thought you had was of rushing home to Mom. I know that you were injured, but you didn't dare complain because you had things to do. She was home alone and you were programmed to be there...she counted on you. Just like when you battled cancer...your only concern was that SHE'D be alright and you worried about how she'd manage without you as you endured chemotherapy.

You never cease to amaze me. I mean what can you say about a tough, burly man who can be reduced to tears by his cats? One who hunts in the marsh, yet brings home wounded birds, only to name them and lovingly care for them as "friends" (pets). You forecast the weather better than the meteorologists and attribute it to your time spent at sea....I just think it's because you're "special". Like an old native chief who's one with nature, that's what you're like. You tie knots, tell jokes and grow flowers and vegetables...what a combination. You have the most wonderful outlook on life and your family is the only thing that really matters to you. You are there, unconditionally, and have never let us down, EVER. When my car would break down in the middle of the night, you'd come without question. If I needed anything, you made sure I had it, without fail. It's been such a comfort in my life to know that you were there. I am forever grateful that I have you for a father.

You are the epitome of a man. And today, on your 70th birthday, I wish you endless love and happiness. I love you Dad.

XO

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13 Comments:

Blogger whitenoise said...

Very nice, Deb. A loving tribute to an obviously great man. Here's to many more special days for you and your dad!

3:52 AM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Happy birthday, Mr Deb's Dad! And best wishes for many happy days.

You know you are very blessed and beloved when your daughter gives you a beautiful tribute like that.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous kelly said...

wonderful post Deb its a great tribute.

8:12 AM  
Blogger busterp said...

Well done. Happy Birthday Deb's dad.

Nice use of pictures!

8:13 AM  
Blogger LaLa said...

What a great post, Deb. Kinda makes me want to not give my own dad such a hard time. Thank you.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Mike M said...

Fantastic post!!!!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous gledwood said...

that is a fantastic tribute!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEB'S DAD

12:43 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Thanks guys...another "novel" by Deb, but I could've gone on even longer. I'm lucky to have a wonderful father...he truly is my hero.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Deb, that was such a moving post, I hope your Dad has a wonderful birthday :)

4:12 PM  
Blogger tkkerouac said...

What a wonderful man and role model for you, you are so lucky. Loved this post Deb, a beautiful tribute to your dad
Happy Birthday Debs Dad!

7:35 AM  
Blogger mellowlee said...

Happy belated birthday Deb's Dad! It's such a beautiful post Deb, I cried all the way through it! *HUGS*

1:30 PM  
Blogger Sheena said...

That was lovely. Envious. Never had the chance to see my Dad in my adult years. Beautiful writing and great pics.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Whan an absolutely wonderful tribute to your dad. You're a sweetheart for doing this.

7:08 AM  

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