Tuesday 22 October 2013

Still Love You Dad

I grew up in Toronto Ontario and moved to Alberta when I was in my mid twenties. I have been here ever since except for a four year period when we moved back to Ontario because we had forgotten why we moved to Alberta in the first place.

When we first moved, communication with my friends and family was difficult and costly. Long distance phone calls were very expensive for a young couple just starting out in their careers and letter writing was unsatisfactory even if it were inexpensive. There was just too long a time between a letter written and reply received. For the first couple of months, we ran up phone bills of about $400 which at the time was almost half a month’s salary. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we were doing all of the calling, so we cut back our communication budget. That’s why we drifted away from friends for a decade or two.

We didn’t make enough money to fly out to visit on any kind of regular basis. It cost more to fly to Toronto than it did to Hawaii, but we couldn’t afford either trip. We did travel a little, but it fell on our parents to visit us and at the time I thought that they actually came to see the grand kids. We looked forward to visits from both sets of parents and although they drove us crazy, it didn’t diminish the love we felt for them at all. Well, not much…

Whenever my dad would come out he wanted to tackle projects around the house. I would get home from work and he would allow me time for a coffee or tea and then we had to drive to the Home Depot to pick up paint, wood, nails or just kind of look around. It was fun, dad was quite the handyman and he and I would walk up and down the aisles and he would try to pass on some wisdom to his rather slow son.

One trip, dad decided that we needed to paint the ceilings as they had discoloured where the rafters were. We went and picked up a couple of rollers, drop cloths and some white, latex ceiling paint. We moved all of the furniture to one side, covered it with the drop cloths and started rolling the paint on. It turned out that as we would roll the paint on the “popcorn” texture, the ceiling started to drop off! We discovered that you can’t use a latex based paint but needed an oil based paint which would keep the texture where it belonged and not on the floor. We eventually did a pretty good job.

On another trip, dad decided that the shed at the side of the house needed to have shingles. I had just thrown it up temporarily a few years before and as far as I was concerned, it was doing the job. I knew that dad would rather be working than sitting and talking, so off we went to the Home Depot for some shingles and nails. We got out the ladder and up on the roof to do the prep work. We got to the far end and both of us fell through the roof. We were in a tangled heap on the dirt floor of the shed and dad looked at me and said “Your carpentry skills need a little work. Don’t tell the women about this!”

We went back to the Home Depot to pick up some plywood for the roof of the shed, some nails and a lecture about how doing the minimum work possible is never the best idea. The shed is still keeping water and snow out after all of these years.

Dad passed away 16 years ago today, and I think of him every day. I also try to build things that will at least hold my weight and I never tell the women about a mistake unless it is spurting from a cut on my wrist. On the anniversary of his death, I go to the Home Depot and walk up and down the aisles just looking at stuff and thinking about how much fun dad would have had helping Brendan build his garage, Arwen with her deck or Maegan with the dishwasher and thermostat. I know he wouldn’t have had any difficulty drilling into Maegan’s wall.

Still love you dad. 

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