Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh Daddy, If There's Been a Fool Around, It's got to be me.....

Here it is, Father's Day Eve, and I am feeling melancholy.  Of course, I just realized why, after a shitload of clues.  LOL, nobody ever accused me of being swift.  First, I was sitting on the toilet, looking at the Facebook on my phone, when I saw a picture of my aunt and uncle (my mom's sister) that my cousin had posted.  It was a picture from 1991, from when my father had a retirement party at "Headquarters", and my aunt and uncle were there, all gussied up, and allowed to stay at the Officer's Mess, which was pretty much like Southfork.  Then, I got a text from someone who said they had a Joe Jackson song going through their head, and that got me singing "Steppin' Out" which always makes me think of my folks now because it always reminds me of the Queen City, where "Headquarters" was, since we spent a lot of time there when I was in my early teens, and I listened to the radio obsessively back then.  ANYWAY.  Yeah, it's my first official father's day without a father.  True, the past few years were in a sense fatherless since he had the Alzheimers, but still, physically, this is the first.  And apparently, it's hard.
My dad was an amazing man.  I wish it hadn't taken me 20 years to realize it.  I spent so much time trying NOT to be like him when in fact it was just stupidity not to embrace him.  My dad came from very humble beginnings.  He wasn't just poor, he was 'PO.  He was the first in his family to be born in Canada.  His father, mother, and two brothers came to Canada from the Ukraine a year or two before he was born, and they lived in poverty in Alberta - the Mundare/Royal Park area.  He was born at home on May 17, 1932, and spent his childhood years speaking Ukrainian.  As I said, they were very poor, and he would often tell me that he would be walking the 4 miles to school, and he would sometimes have to lie down in the fields because of the hunger pains he had.  When I think of that now,   my heart aches.  Anyway, they were poor, and we'd often hear the story of his dad taking the bus into Edmonton and coming home with a pound of bologna, and it was like fucking steak to them.  My Baba, Dad's mother, was a feisty woman who didn't know a word of English, but swore like a sailor - I am guessing it was Ukrainian swear words she was saying.  Well, my dad's father was sort of a dickhead I guess.  Indeed, I didn't know he existed until I was about 8 or so and he was dying.  Up until that point, I was told that his father was dead.  He left the family high and dry.  His best friend in the Old Country had a daughter named Mary and they sponsored her to come to Canada to be the "baby-sitter" - the babysitter who likes to fuck, apparently.  My grandfather ran off with her, who was actually younger than my dad, and left the family poorer and hungrier.  Dad kept his distance for the most part until his was dying and then they made peace I guess.  But that's a whole other story.
Anyway, my dad was a handsome devil, who dated a handful of ladies - one, named Olga May - LOL, I still laugh at her name.  He moved to Edmonton after school and worked as a baker, etc., and then joined the RCMP and moved to Regina.  He completed training in 1954 I think, and met my mom and yada yada, they got married, moved all over hell's half acre, and had 4 kids in the process.

When I say I wish I would have realized how great he was, it's because I spent so much time trying to be different from him.  I don't know why that is.  Do we all try to be different from our parents?  Is it because we want to try and be better? To be our own person?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I spent so many years thinking he was, well, not the enemy, but not who I wanted to be.  And then that was replaced by the realization that I wish I measured up to who he was, because he was so great.  Our relationship was, very often, rocky.  I am not sure why that was.  There were many reasons, I guess.  I was a mama's boy, and I think I was jealous of him.  My parents were very affectionate, and, ugh, pretty... sexual... (I never want to utter those words again)... and i suppose I was jealous of that.  Whenever they'd be kissing, when I was a kid, I'd yell "wipe it off, mom, WIPE IT OFF!"  I am noticing that whole scenario right now with my own 4 year old son.  Every weekend morning, as the Mrs. and I try to canoodle, he gets right in between us, and let's just say that this little 40 pounder is the cock-block extrordinaire.  And since I can identify, I can hardly hold it against him.  But STILL...

Anyway, I think having a father as a police man made things a little difficult.  I always wanted to be the rebel, etc., and that's hard to do when your dad runs the police dept.  Even as a youngin', I rebelled.  I wanted long hair, I loved loud music, I loved hippies, I loved peace and love and challenged everything.  And my dad, while he was in no way athletic or handy or anything, wanted the stereotypical boy.  And I wasn't having none of it.  I hated sports, being uncoordinated and nervous, so I know it bothered him.  I'd always hear, as a teenager, that "Scotty So and So is on the football team and a hockey team, etc." and I'd counter "Scotty smoked so much dope at this gross party at the trailer park that I thought his lung would collapse."  I never really got through to him then, and he didn't get through to me either.  He wanted his son to be Emilio Estevez in Breakfast Club, and I wanted my dad to be Michael Keaton from Family Ties.  I wanted to have an earring and wear eyeliner like Duran Duran and my fave new wave bands, and my dad wanted me to be a clean-cut jock.  I have this awful memory of my dad taking my mom and me and this little tour of Mundare, when I was 17, showing us where they lived and where the priests who fed him lived, and I bitched and moaned and read my Stephen King book (IT).  What an asshole I was then.

But you know what?  My dad and I didn't have a chummy relationship when I was a teenager, true.  But as soon as I grew up?  Man, we got on like a house on fire.  I didn't know just how open he was to things.  I always placed the blame on him for everything - my sister "Leslie" had a baby at 17 with this absolute scummy waste of skin.  An absolute creep.  He made her give her up for adoption.  I blamed him, but then later learned from my other sister that he said "if it was anyone else, they would have dealt with it, but this guy was 'an animal.'" And he was/is.  My mother, God rest her soul, had her own issues, and I tended to blame dad for them.  My mom had a drinking problem.  Not a fall-down rubby-dub type of problem, but one none the less. And I somehow blamed dad for it.  Long story, but it wasn't his battle.  I regret that.  Sigh.  I just wasn't supportive of him.

But he was supportive of me.  When I went to University, I was the only one in the family to do so, and he was so proud.  He sent me $125 a month just because.  He kept us stocked up in ass-wipe and Kleenex and Kraft Dinner.  He was on a committee and would often get a hotel room paid for at a nice hotel in the same city and would ask if we'd like to have it.  He knew we'd have nasty, crazy hotel sex in there - thanks, Dad!

I still remember a convo i had with him a few weeks after my wedding.  I got offered this job - it was only like 20 hours a week, but still, it sounded good.  I called and told him and he said "I sure am proud of you, son" and I don't know if my heart ever felt like bursting that much before or since.  And he had such a great sense of humor.  I remember him calling me at the Lake once, where he told me he had cleaned the building where Rachel and I did janitorial work, for us, so we didn't have to come in a day early, and we were making jokes, and I said "oh you smart-ass!" and my bro in law looked at me and said "are you talking to your DAD?!" and I was immediately grateful for him and our relationship.

As adults, I learned to appreciate my dad.  And I am no where near where he was when he was here.  I am still struggling.  But my dad taught me a few things I use daily:  Love your wife.  More than that, be in LOVE with your wife.  Still be having relations with her in your 70s.  Make her happy.  Be honest.  Be open.  Have a sense of wrong and right.  Never be apathetic.  Love your children and give them your time.  You'll have your own time later on.  And since we didn't see eye to eye for many years, let me add, pretend you get whatever the fuck it is they are saying/promoting.  They'll grow outta the "Me" stage if you've done your job.

True, there are many things that I could write that would be "DO NOT DO THIS!" but in the end, that shit doesnt matter.  My father was a great man.  A great man.  He had honour, he had morals, he could barely tell  a lie.  He loved his wife of 51 years with unbridled passion (ugh, think of ponies).  He never paid a bill late nor did he ever tell a lie.  When Rachel and I hooked up, he gave me this look that pretty much said "you got it right finally, don't fuck this up", and even though I almost did many times, I didn't.  And he was proud of that.  How many men can say their fathers are proud of the beauties their sons marry?  Not many.  Anyway, Dad has been in different stages of the Alzheimer's since 2006?  But this year, he is gone.  I miss his mind, but I also miss kissing the mole on his cheek, the chuckle of laugher he gave no matter what, and his stupifying presence.  I am nowhere near where he was, in terms of the man I want to be, but I am a work in progress, just like him.  For now, let me say that I love you more than words, Dad.  If I can be half the man you were. there will be hope for the future.


At 8:47 AM, Blogger Rox said...

I have no words, mostly because I'm bawling.
You are a lucky guy, JT! And you need to give yourself more credit. Your kids will be writing great stories about you some day...Happy Fathers' Day!!

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Golden Grain Farm said...

Your dad sounds like a great guy, for sure. I love his "rules for life!" He was a smart man.

Of course your four-year-old is getting between you and Rachel. At four years old, all boys have a serious crush on their mother.

Do 4-yr-old girls have one on their father?


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