On February 8, 1977 I was excitedly packing a suitcase. Four days later I was to leave for San Diego to visit my parents. They wintered down south as my dad had a heart condition and Winnipeg winters were far too strenuous to endure.
I fell asleep that night but was startled awake in the middle of the night by a pounding in my heart that actually caused me to sit up straight in bed. And I could not fall back asleep again. About an hour later my phone rang, and a voice at the other end informed me that my dad had passed away of a heart attack.
It was Wednesday, February 9th. And I would never see my daddy again. I would never hear his voice or the sound of his laughter again. I would never see him smile again. I would never feel a hug or a kiss again. My world was shattered and my life would never be the same again.
My dad taught me how to tie my shoelaces and how to ride a bike. He taught me how to drive a car. He impressed upon me the importance of getting an education. And he taught me a lot about life.
He left school at the age of fourteen as his own father became ill. He was the sole source of financial support to his parents and three younger siblings. His sisters and brother all went on to obtain a university education. He always put everyone else in his life first.
At home our freezer was always filled with ice cream, a treat he loved but had enjoyed so rarely as a child. Money earned was always for others, but never for himself.
My dad was truly a self-made man and worked long hours, successfully building up his company. He would sit at the kitchen table doing the accounting for his business and I would play the piano providing a musical background he enjoyed. Sometimes in the evenings he would go back to work to do some manual labor, and I would grab my homework and come along to keep him company.
When his health deteriorated, I often drove him to medical appointments or to go shopping. We spoke often on the phone and sent cassette tapes back and forth when he was in San Diego.
Sadly he never met his grandchildren. He would have adored them and loved them as only a grandfather can. My children have definitely missed out on not having a grandfather to dote on them and spend time with them.
I learned a lot from my dad, and I hope that I have instilled some of these values upon my own children. He always said “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” and that has been one of my mantras throughout the years.
Love you forever and always in my heart.