I recall so much of my childhood and my father; a lot of it not so good. He became an alcoholic when I was still quite young – 5 or 6-years old, I think. I could have been younger. I remember the fights my parents used to have from a very early age and my mother crying. On one occasion I had the nerve to ask what was wrong in an innocent little-girl-way. She promptly turned to me and snapped at me coldly to shut up.
That was how it was; along with me, she had a toddler (my sister), an 11-year old son (my bro) and she, herself, was probably still in her 30’s. That’s a lot to handle with financial issues and an angry husband when he was drunk.
It wasn’t always bad, though. There were fleeting happy memories and today, I want to honour them.
I fondly remember all the mornings that dad got up, changed my underwear (I guess I’d occasionally wet the bed at night) and me telling him about my dreams. Keep in mind I was walking and talking like a 3-year old at the tender age of 1.5 years so these memories were probably from the age of around 2 and a half. I started to walk and talk at 9 months, never engaged in the typical ‘baby-talk’ and frequently embarrassed my mother in public by saying things no 1 and a half year old should be saying. I was a freaky kid.
I once told him about a dream of alligators attacking my little bum. I think he laughed and assured me it wasn’t real but just a dream. Odd how I still remember this.
My brother is 6-years older than me and when he was getting ready for school, during the week, I’d sit and watch cartoons with dad. Rocket Robin Hood, Batman and Robin and Spiderman played one after the other on our 20” black and white TV. Dad made me cinnamon toast and snuck me a tiny cup of well creamed and sugared coffee. I LOVED the stuff. I still do.
I don’t think my mom knew he gave her 3-year old coffee. Shhh.
We were camping at Christina Lake, one summer, and I’d wandered on to the sandy beach with bare feet. It was hotter than Hades on my tiny little feet and I screamed bloody murder until he came running over like a bat out of hell and saved my tender tootsies from the lava sand. I think I was 6-years.
He used to hold us by the ankles, upside down (there is a pic of this somewhere) until we laughed so hard we nearly peed ourselves.
He LOVED cartoons more than you can imagine and always knew when the best ones were on. He’s the only dad I know who’d sit and watch cartoons with his kids and made sure they didn’t miss their favourite ones.
My dad was a HUGE Star Trek fan. It’s because of him that I love Sci-Fi and am fascinated with space.
He gave me my first (and last) 12 long-stemmed red roses, for my graduation. They came in a beautiful white box filled with white tissue. He said there was one rose in there for every year of school. I think I cried.
Fathers are the first men little girls fall in love with. They are our heros and our champions. While some dads take a wrong turn, at times, and are not always the best they can be – they still teach us many valuable lessons about love, life, forgiveness and patience.
Dad died when I was 23. He had throat and mouth cancer and it was a very painful death. I remember him lying in the hospital bed in Lac La Biche, Alberta. He weighed about 65 lbs. It was the saddest thing I’d ever seen, my once strong father – so helpless and drugged out on morphine.
All the bad things he did were forgiven and I am so, so grateful I got to be his ‘oldest’ (as he used to call me) daughter.
Thank you for all the lessons, the love and the brief life we shared, Dad
I love you. xox