On Sunday families across the country will be celebrating Fathers’ Day. My Dad died in 1990, but the gifts he gave us through the years live on – gifts of wisdom, a love of animals and nature and all things bright and beautiful.
He was a very quiet man. A man of few words – generally gentle, he could be tough, gruff even, but for the most part he was mild mannered. He was a twin –they were the youngest of a large family, but his twin sister died of tuberculosis in her early thirties. My father would live through many deaths in his family, several to T.B. He rarely talked about the hardships he faced growing up. I know he had left home at age 14 to go to work. He lived through the depression, which came to be known as the “dirty thirties”. A heart murmur prevented him from enlisting in the armed forces when the country went to war for the second time. It was during the war years that he met and later married my mother. Their lives were not easy, but according to my mother, they had a good life.
Dad loved animals – all animals and would not tolerate cruelty toward them. As a child we kept chickens, a cow, and sometimes a pig. Memories of Dad building a new chicken coop, demonstrating to us children how to feed a horse an apple or how to milk the cow, carrying a new calf up the hill to our house while its mother butted him from behind, cradling new kittens in his work-calloused hands, petting the dog – all ways he demonstrated his deep love and respect of all living things.
I also remember him sitting in the shade of a tree out in the yard, his gaze on some faraway place and time. Sometimes I would sit quietly with him and wonder what it was he was thinking about. Often it was a time of silent reminiscing for him and sometimes he would share stories of his childhood with me – like skating on the ice wearing home-made skates – blades driven into blocks of wood that he strapped to his boots. At other times he was enjoying listening to the birds sing and breathing in the scent of flowers.
Dad was a quiet man, but his love of the beauty of nature, the way he spoke to people, and the way he handled animals spoke loudly. So on Fathers’ Day I will honour his memory and be thankful for this man I was fortunate to call “Dad”.