Just a thought… Dad, you’re someone to look up to no matter how tall I’ve grown. [Author Unknown]
This Sunday is Father’s Day – but, of course, you knew that! And we hope that if your dad is still with you, you get a chance to tell him what he means to you. This week, we get two chances.
My dad turned 85 on Monday of this week. He’s in great health and spirits and we count our blessings every day. He has a lady friend who adores him (and to whom he reads every night as part of their loving ritual) and is a happy man.
Rare is the day you won’t catch my father singing to himself or taking at least an hour to go into his room and practise his saxophone. These days, he’s encouraging the budding musicianship in his granddaughter Ava, making sure she gets to her clarinet lessons and keeps up on her own practising. He’s all about music – it’s in his soul.
Dad’s always had a cheery demeanor and was the sunny yin to my mom’s often darker yang. (Just this week when people at his seniors’ residence asked if he was having a happy birthday he said, “Well, I’m still getting over the trauma of that umbilical cord cutting 85 years ago!”) He has always set a great example for his daughters and even showed that you can change lanes midway through your career – belying his own advice to us earlier on.
I remember my dad saying, “Find a good rut and get comfortable – you’re in it a long time.” I even repeated that advice the first time I gave a convocation address at my alma mater, Loyalist College (giving credit to Dad, of course). But the second time I addressed grads, my tune had changed – and so had my father’s.
After over 25 years in the Armed Forces, Dad went from squadron leader in Trenton to desk jockey in Ottawa and it didn’t suit him. So he took a big chance and transferred to an address on “civvy street” becoming a civilian pilot, then chief pilot with Ontario Worldair and then Worldways (both defunct). Dad was living proof that you don’t have to stay in that one rut, no matter how comfortable (or secure) it is. He knew there was more to life than pushing paper and he pursued it.
Like so many people our age, my sisters and I have all embarked on big changes at times in our careers when we could well have stayed “comfortable” and stayed put. One sister left a successful career in sales to pursue a simpler life; another left her job, where she blazed trails as a woman in the military, to become a highly sought-after gemologist and bandleader/arranger. We’ve all strayed from the lanes we were in when our journeys began and become better people because of it.
Dads are great at telling us how to live – it’s sort of part of the job description – but the best ones show us how to do it by the way they themselves live. How to be honourable and valuable contributors to society. How to face challenges with a stiff spine and a ready laugh. Hopefully, how to make the world a better place simply by being a part of it.
That’s my dad, and I love him for all he’s given me (including my chin and my curls). May you always be as happy as you’ve made us, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day – I’ll talk to you here on Monday.