19 June 2011

This guy


This guy is my dad. He's my dad and I love him more than he'll ever know.

My dad and his much-loved brother Tom.

He's the smartest, most driven human being I've ever met. No one else on the planet works as hard or as persistently as he does. I draw tremendous inspiration from how he lives his life and I find myself time and again falling short of the example he set. However, that's a self assessment only. Such a thought would never cross his mind.

My dad and his mother at his high school graduation.

In my dad's eyes, I'm the smartest kid on the block. I'm the gangly eighth grader who could bench press his own weight. I'm the runner who could outpace anyone. He sees a vision of me that drives me to do better and keep striving.

My dad and my sister Adele with my grandmother Stewart's dog, Poochie.

When I was a little guy, my two younger brothers and I spent a Saturday with him in his office. It was an icy, frigid day in the dead of winter. When we were driving home we came upon the scene of an accident. Dad pulled over and let the people who were involved sit inside our car to get warm while they waited for the police and tow trucks to show up. That kind of generosity and thoughtfulness defines my father and it left an impression on me that influences my every interaction today. I had never seen a black person until then, as strange as it sounds, but his color blind compassion is one of the things I'm proudest to have have inherited from him.

My four older siblings looking down at the river and my dad.

When my parents met in the early '50s, dad was a draftee who was due to ship out to Germany. Once he got there, he sent for my mother and they married. Together, they set the standard for what I see as a solid relationship. My parents have a bond that's unbreakable and 56 years later is as strong as the day they committed to it. Through 56 years, seven kids, 22 grandkids and three great-grandkids, mom and dad still hold hands when they go for a walk. Anybody who can keep a relationship alive for 56 years is a hero in my book and that I'm descended from two of them fills me with a pride I have a hard time explaining.

My mom and dad upon her arrival in Frankfurt.

Dad's a lifetime learner and that's something else I get from him directly. My wanderlust and love of travel come from watching him fly off to such exotic lands as Japan and Ghana when I was a kid, but his embrace of  learning as a retiree is downright inspiring. He studies calculus and Medieval art as he walks into the latter part of his 70s. How many people do things like that?

My brother Matt and my sister Adele on a Father's Day that took place longer ago than any of us want to think about.
I'm not one who dwells in regret, but one regret I do have is that I couldn't see the man my dad is for the first half of my life. However, as I get older I see that he and I are in fact the same person. The 21-year-old version of me would have never suspected such a thing but as I get older, the more true that statement is. As a middle-aged man, I can't imagine someone better to emulate.

My dad walking my brother Steve off the dock in Ontario. My brothers Tom and Matt are on either side of me in the background.

Dad was a bit of a cypher when I was a kid and it was tough to see the human being behind the role. However, now that all that's behind everybody I see him as him when he's interacting with his grandkids. The love he showered on us when my sibs and I were kids was always tempered with the caution and lessons of a parent, but with his grandkids he abandons himself to love in its purest form.

My parents whiling away the hours during a much-deserved break in Ontario.

Watching him teach a quick lesson in basic physics to Mia, Maggie and Aaron; or seeing him beam when Elena tells him of her latest sales quota exceeded; and when he holds Sarah or Marilynn's latest baby the man shines with something I'm just glad to bask in.

My folks amid the Texas wildflowers in the 1980s.

All of us; Ray, Cyndee, Marylinn, Travis, Kolbe, Colleen, Jessica, Ray J, Will, Adele, Lou, Sarah, Andrew, Pauline, Xavier, John, Nancy, Elena, Catherine, Louie, Isabella, Matt, Diana, Matty, Tony, David, Mia, Maggie, Mia, Aaron, Anne-Marie, Robert, Tom, Mary, Max, me, Dave and Steve join together to salute you on this Father's Day. Every one of us will say this today, but let me make it public. Dad I love you and thanks for being such an amazing man. You're my favorite person on earth and I am proud to be called your son.

My dad, the father of six sons, always reminds me of this song by Jacques Brel. Dad, this one's for you.



8 comments:

  1. Tears. Seriously. I wish there were more people like him raising kids!

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  2. Thanks Melody, they're out there but like you, I wish there were more of them.

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  3. Amazing photos Paul!Thanks for the goosebumps I guess! ;-)

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  4. Anybody who can keep a relationship alive for 56 years is a hero in my book -- indeed. And a good parent to boot. Great post.

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  5. That's a beautiful tribute. And you're right. Anyone who can be married for that long and still go places holding hands is definitely doing something right.

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  6. Uncle Paul, this is an amazing post. I wish I could visit Puzzle Lake with Grandma and Grandpa at least once more, but I feel like the time for that is, unfortunately, over. I still cherish every moment with them. They are great people. I can't wait to have them up here with me, and to have you, too!

    P.S. You can tell their relationship is still alive by the way Paps teases Grandma about her secret stash of Drumsticks.

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  7. Thanks, that was really beautiful. What great photos and such a lovely tribute. I feel the same about my Dad. Thanks for sharing such a personal aspect of your life.

    Regards from a former fellow Ontarian now living in Europe. e.

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