“Me and Mom. Me and Dad. Me and Grandpa who lives across the street. Me and Dad and Daddy. Me and Mrs. Brown.”
Each family comes with its own cast of characters.
None of them is exactly easy. Though, it’s fair to say, some are more difficult than others.
Me, I was fortunate to have a full-time-at-home-when-he-wasn’t-working Dad.
Since it’s almost Father’s Day, and you’re reading this column anyway, I’d like to chat about him a little.
In Julius Caesar, Antony says, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.”
We were too Presbyterian to be actually evil. But, my father did smoke hand-rolled unfiltered cigarettes, one after another, until his ulcer.
He quit cold turkey, but in the right hand pocket of his gardening jacket he squirreled away the remaining half package of Old Chum tobacco. Took it out from time to time. Held it to his nose. Sniffed deeply and sighed.
That’s about as evil as it got.
The list of good things is much longer. Here are just seven.
He would work a double shift and then come home to tend to the struggling yellow climbing rose my mother liked so much.
He built a birdhouse to attract Purple Martins. Got mostly squirrels.
He took me fishing once off a dock on the St. Clair River. He put a worm on my hook for me. We caught nothing. I was more interested in the sandwiches.
He took us on summer vacations. Once, we went up north and fed grain to some penned-up baby deer. I wasn’t fast enough and mine kicked me hard in my shins to speed things up. My father told that story over and over again – so often I’m not sure if I remember the actual event or just his smiling account of it.
Dad didn’t skate, but he took me most Saturday mornings to the Sarnia Arena, and encouraged me from the sidelines. I was wobbly and hopeless. Dad was unfailingly optimistic. Sometimes he even clapped.
Number six. In the decent weather, he rode his 1940’s black bicycle to work. Heavy as an anvil that thing was. Never talked about a new bike for himself. Just for me.
His favourite joke on Christmas morning was to guess that the gift he was unwrapping was “a cup and saucer.” One year, Mom actually gave him a frilly set, and Dad laughed as hard as the rest of us.
Oh, yes. Dad was a slow and careful driver. But that would be number eight, and another story.
Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and the creator of a blog for new and renewing writers, bobswritefromthestart.blogspot.com