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Off Topic: Why I’ve been missing

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Sorry I have been missing this week.

It’s due to some sad news. My dad passed away Monday. I’ve been up in Edmonton dealing with all the little things that need to be done when someone passes.

Sunday, he had an asthma attack. He’s had them before. My sister saw him after, and he seemed to be recovering. His oxygen level was getting close to normal, and his heart rate was coming back down. Monday, he wasn’t doing as well, and I started to make plans to come up on Tuesday morning. By Monday night, we decided I ought to come quicker. But as I was leaving town, my sister called to say he passed.

They kept him in his room till I got there, and I got to sit with him for a while and say the things I likely should have years before.

Dad had dementia over the last few years. That and losing his hearing aids have made communication tough, and a year ago fell and broke his hip, which seemed to speed up the dementia progression.

The good part is that he was almost always in a good mood. Always happy to see us (though it has been harder to get to see him the last year and a half).

Sports is the thing that he still got. Turn on a football, hockey, or baseball game, and he understood it. He knew who he was cheering for (the Blue Jays). The last time I saw him, he told me the Jays had a good team this year. A few days ago, my sister texted me to tell me that he cheered when the Jays hit a home run, but he also cheered every time it was replayed like it was another home run. It makes me think I might enjoy my own descent into dementia.

Like many of us, my love of sports came from my dad. He would often join us kids out front playing soccer or whatever game we happened to be playing. He loved to watch sports. He wasn’t a passive watcher. The referees were always screwing one team. And he would loudly express his displeasure. I get, now, that it was a stress relief. He, for a time, had a job that caused him stress (and you know, kids that caused him stress).

My dad was a bricklayer. He’d work all week, and then on weekends, he’d do jobs, generally for friends, and, on weekends, I was his labourer. It really was the best of times. I got time with my dad alone. And I learned that hard physical work wasn’t something I wanted to spend all my time doing. I mean, I was happy to help my dad, but I don’t think I was built for that kind of work.

In the last several years, it has been harder to have a close relationship with him. We moved to Calgary. His hearing made phone calls difficult. But if I ever was doing work on the house, a new deck, sidewalk, finish the basement, new shingles, he was there to help (and by help, I mean he did most of the work). He was good at carpentry, plumbing, electrical work. Just about any building trade, he could do it.

Since he retired, my parents spent the winters as snowbirds, going to Yuma, Arizona every year, until about 5 years ago. I think those were the best years of his life. He was relaxed. Didn’t feel the stress from working every day. And didn’t have to worry about his kids anymore.

Any good traits I might have come from my parents. My dad was a gentleman, with emphasis on the word gentle. And, he was, as they say, a good judge of whisky. He had a good sense of humor, and he was always willing to help someone out (especially the son he shared his name with). I am beyond blessed to have been his son.

He didn’t have an easy childhood, his mom died when he was very young, and his father was an alcoholic who didn’t pay attention (or even feed) his kids. My dad, by the age of 7, knew what businesses would give a starving child food. He said the best thing that happened to him was being evacuated during the war to a small town to live with a family that actually fed him and looked after him. I’ve always been amazed that he was such a good dad when he didn’t have a role model. It has been far easier for me, I just copied him.

Thank you, dad. With the help of friends, I finally found a bar with Newcastle Brown Ale, so I could toast you properly.