DAD

Dad 17 years old

Dad 17 years old

With Fathers’ Day approaching, I wish to honour my Dad’s memory with my recollections of growing up as his daughter.  My Dad was a great Father;  he was a kind and gentle person.  He was born in 1922 in the small east coast town of New Carlisle, Quebec – the third son in a family of 9 children.  They lived right beside the railway tracks with a beautiful view of the ocean, in a 2 story house with no indoor plumbing.  I don’t know alot about my Dad’s childhood except for the notion that HIS Father was very strict……and even mean.   I believe he mentioned that he quit school in grade 8 so he could work to help support his family……… just a child himself but I guess that was standard in the thirties. 

 

At the tender age of 17, he joined the army in 1939 to serve his country in World War II.  Most young guys also saw it as a way to escape the drudgery of their lives and see the world.   He said that he crawled his way through Europe……. as a soldier who tried to identify landmines.  I don’t know if he was also responsible for diffusing them too.   He was there on D-Day as well.   Dad was a decorated War Veteran.  In later years, he went back to France as his Legion’s representative, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of D-Day.  My Dad didn’t talk about the war much except for  ‘Mutton’:  he would never eat lamb (and neither would we!) since he’d eaten Mutton Stew for months and months during the war in Europe.

After the war ended, my Dad returned home and a few years later, married my Mother.  Around 1950, they moved to Hamilton, Ontario – about 1,000 miles (1600+ kilometers) from home – to start fresh.  He got a job with the Hamilton Board of Education as a custodian – a position which he upgraded to a ‘Mechanical Engineer’ and held until he retired.   Many times, I used to go to my Dad’s  ‘school’ on holidays, and play in the gym or walk the dark halls alone or even help him.  Our Dad was a hard working man.  He always held two jobs and sometimes three.  One time, on his night job at the CP Train station, he lost his wallet with the cash for our upcoming holidays – that was almost tragic.  But it didn’t stop my Dad from taking us on our planned vacation!  I remember quite clearly hearing him say that he worked hard so he could have a decent house to live in for his family, a car, and a vacation every year.  Simple.  Not too complicated.

1950

Our post wartime house in Hamilton, where I grew up as a little child, was awesome.  My Dad built the first “rec room” in the neighbourhood:  a pegboard partition beside the stairs dividing the rec room from the furnace room/workroom.  Back in the day, we also had a coal bin, which stored coal that had to be added to the gigantic furnace… often… all winter long.  My Dad also partitioned off my Mom’s laundry room (well actually a double cement laundry tub – one side for washing the clothes on a washboard and the other side for the rinse – and later a wringer washer)…….with a simple curtain.  Dad was a generous man too, welcoming visitors from down home who came to stay for weeks or months and months.

1958 Mom and Dad

Every winter, my Dad made a neighbourhood skating rink in the empty lot beside our house – I’m guessing about 30′ X 40′.  We had a natural hill out back which became the sliding hill.  My Dad and Mom took turns watering the rink while the neighbourhood boys and Dad shovelled the snow off.   Also out back, my Dad built us a little dance patio.  We used to take the record player outside on the back porch and dance to the tunes of the ’50s, so my Dad installed some bricks for a patio to dance on.  Many parents objected to their kids listening to rock and roll (satan’s music they said) but our Parents respected us and our choices.

1960 Timmins Vacation

It was clear to me, even as a young child, that many families in our neighbourhood didn’t go on vacation – some Dads just sat in a lawn chair with a few beers for their 2 weeks of holidays.  But our Dad always took us somewhere every single year!   We’d make the 3 day drive back down home to New Carlisle to see my Grandparents and cousins, every 2nd or 3rd year.  Those were my favourite holidays.  But it was no vacation for Dad – he’d spend his time bringing in hay (by hand, forked onto a trailer pulled by the horses) or even installing an entire new bathroom.   He always loaded the car with fruit to bring down and we usually brought a neighbour along for the trip too.    Other places he took us include Timmins (we got to see the gold mine), Gatineau Park, the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, a rented cottage on a River in Muskoka, Cape Cod Massachusetts, and one of my favourite places camping at  ‘Lambert’ Park.  I loved the camping trips there, where we could swim all day, walk the hiking trails, and dance to the jukebox on the cement dance pad till 10 p.m.   What a life!

 

When I was 11 years old, we moved to the Mountain when my Parents bought their first house.  My Dad was able to have a vegetable garden finally.  He also tended the gooseberries and raspberries.  My Mom was the flower gardener.  During my teen years, I often went to my Dad’s night job with him cleaning offices.  I was told in no uncertain terms if I was not doing the task to his expectations…….albiet gently.  My Dad took pride in all his work.   I guess it was our bonding time.  We didn’t talk about much, but we got to spend ‘quality’ time together.   Life couldn’t have been easy for my Dad – 3 teenager girls and ONE bathroom!  And he’d know if one of us snuck his razor to shave our legs!

I’ll never forget when I eloped to marry my high school sweetheart when I was 18 years old.  When we came back home to break the news to the family, my Dad didn’t say a word – he just got up and walked out.  We quickly high-tailed it to my sister’s place to give my Parents time to ‘digest’ the news.  I guess my Mom had a heated ‘discussion’ with my Dad because he phoned me and offered to come and get us, then drive us back to Kitchener.  The next weekend, he showed up with a huge box of stuff that he said we’d need to set up house – kitchen utensils, pots, cutlery, plates…..you name it.  I know it was his way of saying that he was sorry for the way he had behaved and he had accepted the fact that his little girl was a married woman now.  I’ll never forget that.

When his own Mother passed away, he travelled to Montreal and “took care” of (i.e. paid for) all the funeral arrangements.

In 1975, my Mom died and my Dad was there for us.  I know now that I’ve experienced the loss of my spouse, how difficult a time it was for him too.  We were all so focused on our own grief that I feel I didn’t support him as much as I could have.

1978 Christmas with Grandchildren

We went to England in 1977 and it just so happened that my Dad was in England for a ‘Legion thing’ as well .  He took the time to come to the small town where we were staying and help me with my two young children (2 yrs and 6 months) for a few days.  It was then that I met his future wife, Dorothy – a lovely lady originally from Yorkshire, England.    My Dad often came to see us and his grandchildren while we lived in Kitchener.  My third son, David Taylor was named after my Dad.   After I moved to the Ottawa area in 1981, his visits became less frequent.  Looking at all the pictures he took while I was growing up, it’s apparent that I (and my children) get our love of photography from him!

My Dad developed lung cancer when he was 67 years old, likely from a lifetime of smoking.  After 6 months of treatment, he passed away in October 1988.  I spent the last week with him in the hospital – a memory I will always cherish.  My Dad had been the “Poppy Chairman” for the ‘golden horseshoe’ area Legions so dozens of Veterans came to his funeral and respectfully placed their poppies on his coffin.  It was a moving tribute to my Dad who had given SO much of his time on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion.  Another person approached me and told me that Dad had given him his first job, but he hadn’t seen him much since…….20 years ago!

I will always have a lifetime of love and respect for my Dad.

 

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the Dads!

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fred Schueler
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 22:00:39

    So sad about smoking – I watched my Father quit in 1954, and the recollection of that struggle has immunized 2 generations so far, and I guess there’s now a new generation to be told the story.

    Reply

    • grammomsblog
      Jun 16, 2012 @ 22:18:01

      Yes, us non-smokers’ memories of our loved ones experience with that horribly addictive substance are burned into our core – affecting US for a lifetime too.

      Reply

  2. ceciliag
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 16:36:29

    this is a fantastic piece, a memoir of sorts, I hope you have printed this for your children and grandchildren for them to staple to the family tree. all these are precious memories, a lovely piece of writing.. c

    Reply

  3. grammomsblog
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 17:20:41

    Thank you Celi. I’m saving all my ‘memories’ for my decendants to read and know THEIR history.

    Reply

  4. Lou Campbell
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 21:30:33

    What a lovely tribute to your Dad, Linda. Very nice !

    Reply

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