Just a thought... The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. [Albert Einstein]
After arriving safely, and just as the Raptors game ended (One point! Really?), in Kelowna last night, Rob and I were reunited after 10 days apart! That's a long stretch for us. We bunked down in the guest suite at Dad's seniors' residence and look forward to two days here, departing on Thursday to make it back to the Sidney, BC area in time for our semi-monthly Rotary meeting.
This is a favourite picture of mine from about five years ago when Dad came to town to visit from Kelowna. As I recall, we had dinner at Baton Rouge at the foot of the CN Tower before hitting a Blue Jays game.
I loved learning that in the past few months Dad would spend time reading Mourning Has Broken to his lady friend, Dawna. (Can you think of a cuter pair than one named Don and Dawna?) I would like to believe that actually reading about my life, and my perceptions of how things unfolded, has probably helped him to understand me more than he ever has. That's a nice place to be at this point in both our lives.
Today we celebrate Dad's 86th birthday. And it is indeed a happy one. After surgery for prostate cancer some 20 years ago, he's been doing just great health-wise. He's been an endless source of strength when it comes to watching him do the right thing - including picking up the pieces after his wife of 55 years, my mother, passed away 7 years ago - and he has led more by example than by decree. For that, I am grateful.
In a recent interview on David Letterman's second season of his Netflix show, Ellen DeGeneres said something that made me nod in recognition: she said that her dad wasn't big with praise or compliments. He'd say things like, "Oh, Mr. Smith said that he really likes your show" or "So-and-So says you're doing very well..." (and I paraphrase) and that's a lot of how Dad was with my career as he and Mom watched from Brighton, Ontario and friends would pass along clippings or tell him they'd seen me somewhere on TV. But in the past three months he's giggled during our phone calls and been excited for the progress of my book, cheering me on. Perhaps part of that comes with Dawna's added perspective?
As we spend this day together in BC's beautiful interior, I'll be grateful to have my dad with us in good health and spirits, of mostly sound mind and in the kind of physical shape that makes me grateful for all of the years he would diligently take his daily walk, listening to military marches on his iPod. On top of all of that, my three sisters and I have been lucky to have a father who's adamant about taking care of his after-life arrangements, even to the point of having his headstone in his front hall closet (engraved with all but a final year)!
Yep - that's Dad. I love him dearly and am so grateful for all he is, all he's been and all we get to celebrate today. Because that's a lot.
Back with you here tomorrow.
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