Category Archives: Family

September, 2011

One year ago today, I was an unmarried man. I was twenty-two, unofficial stepdad to two, and in the midst of James Clavell’s Shogun. We had lost Carol only two months earlier, and Aura was still recovering from surgery. Kieran was starting grade two.

I was still in a daze, that September. Winters had always been difficult for me, but that summer put all winters to shame. It was almost as though the universe was shouting at me: You may be getting better, but boy, do I have a lot to throw at you yet!

And yet, what I went through that summer was nothing next to what my sweet girl had to endure.

All was not so hard, though. One thing you learn with kids is that no matter how wild the sea of life becomes, they’ll keep on playing in the bilge water. No storm is bad enough to stir their confidence in Mommy and Daddy, although they may worry about those silly old fools in their own way.

In early June of 2011, Carol – Aura’s mother – had still been faring reasonably well. We had been warned that her time with us was nearing it’s end, but we’d been told that for two and a half years. Carol never lost hope, and continued to live upstairs in her own apartment. By mid June, she had taken a couple of nasty falls, and been checked in to the palliative care unit for around the clock assistance. It was a difficult decision, and we didn’t want it to be permanent – but we just couldn’t see a way for us to provide the care she needed at home. We will never forget the kindness and compassion shown us by the medical staff there.

On July 9, 2011, Carol left this world forever. Aura and I were there sleeping in her room that night; in the morning, she passed away. We held her hands and looked on, helpless to prevent the single greatest loss a child can face: the death of a parent.

Aura had had her hysterectomy only two weeks previously. At the time, we still thought all was going to be well, for the time being. Carol had arranged to stay with my mom for the summer, and they were both looking forward to it. I had encouraged Aura to go through with her much-needed surgery, pinting out that if not now, then when? A busy year was ahead of us. I would have eaten my words, later, if I could have.

In August, we went to my grandparents’ place in Quebec, seeking refuge from swollen emotion. Aura was in a state of ongoing shock. She slept and cried. I did what I could to be there for her, but what could I possibly do?

The boys had a wonderful summer. We had Kieran in camp, and Emery in daycare – he called it “school-park“, a conjunction of two things he understood better. Quebec was then, as it was this summer, a perfect getaway for all of us; and it was the first time Aura and the boys had been there at all. We made sweet memories.

August ended, and September began. Kieran was struggling deeply over the loss of his grandma – they had been so close. I had introduced Kieran to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more kidfriendly films by that time, and he had introduced them to Carol. They spent many hours wtth my hero, cuddled up on Grandma’s couch. His suffering was deep.

Emery wasn’t phased. Too young to feel the loss, but old enough to care that we were hurting, he tended assiduously to his mom and brother. As much as Aura tried to keep her tears away from her kids, Emery always knew when Mommy needed a bright smile and a silly game.

I always tried to be the strong guy; she wasn’t my mother, after all, I reasoned. I needed to be there for my wife and boys, all of whom had lost more than me. But it was hard for me, too – harder than I realised.

Cancer is a terrible curse. I don’t believe it was cast by anyone, and I don’t believe anyone deserves it; nevertheless, seeing my mother-in-law being consumed with it made me want to lash out. Those last few months were full of anger, for me. Old anger resurfaced at a Creator I did not understand; fresh anger at the loss of a kind and giving soul. She was supposed to have been mine, too – part of the package I signed up for when I committed myself to her daughter.

Cancer took her away, and no one could restore her. September was a month when the theft was still very fresh, and out hearts were in turmoil.

But September was also a month of hope, and gladness.

Kieran was starting grade two. He had made so much progress, socially, the year before; we looked forward to another year of small victories – and we were not disapointed. Kieran continued to grow and mature, as a student, as a brother, as a son. He made us very proud – we will always love him, of course, but it’s thrilling to see a child excel.

Emery went to school-park a while longer, and then the funds began to dry up. This was just before Christmas. But you know, Emery took the change in stride – and we ended up having a lot of quality time with him at home. He was Aura’s ray of light in a dark place.

Last, but certainly not least, Aura and I were talking about marriage. We had discussed it all with Carol, earlier on – she’d been overjoyed. Some of the ladies at her Hospice group asked if we would consider having an earlier wedding right in palliative care, when Carol moved in, but everything was just so hectic. We knew, and Carol knew, that the timing wasn’t right, and the place wasn’t right. She was just so happy to know about our plans.

We debated getting married in the tiny public library down in my mom and dad’s neighborhood, but our guest list quickly became too large. I hold Aura responsible for that.

We ended up settling on the Baker’s Hill Banquet Centre, an unspectacular sight at the corner of Parkhill and Television roads. On the inside, though, it was beautiful – fit for the day we were starting to plan.

The process of organising for this concentration of joy was vital to our sanity over the next two months. Without the knowledge that something wonderful was in the works, I don’t see how Aura and I could have coped. We kept very busy, and it kept our friends and family busy with us. We were not alone – we were surrounded by love and light. And it never left our minds that somehow, Carol was looking on with approval.

That September was a focal point for so many radically conflicting forces. It astonishes me to think that we had the energy to pull through. There are some times that just seem to be overshadowed by things larger than yourself – and you just go along with that, for better or for worse.

Where were you in September, 2011?

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Becoming Dad

Somewhere along the line, in these past few years, I became Dad.

Not my dad, much as I love him. Not the dad, since there are in theory two of those in my boys’ lives. What started out as a domestic partnership became a family, and I went from Dan – to Daddy Dan – to Daddy.

I often struggle with the sense that I don’t deserve any of this. As a stepdad, I must also deal with the fact that although blood’s legendary consistency is much less considerable in this age of mixed families, I nevertheless am, in some sense, an outsider.

Ask any of my darling three if I am a stranger, and I expect you will be met with a prompt dismissal; but a stranger I am. I came in from the shadows of the outside world, intruding on their established lives, and built a bridge of love with which to enter and claim that family as my own. I could say I never meant to disrupt things for them, but I knew when I had found my girl that I would overcome anything that stood in our way. And we did, together.

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Aura will tell you that her family life had been flawed, for years. This is absolutely true, to the best of my knowledge. Daddy was not all he ought to have been, and Mommy wasn’t happy. But the boys knew nothing different. Who was I to intrude?

One of the very first times I met with my future wife outside of work, it had occurred to her that the best way to serve me a hefty portion of reality was to have her baby with her. I arrived at a friend’s house to meet her, and there he was: Emery, age one. He crawled on me, he made baby noises, he made baby smells. And I loved him, too. Aura’s first and best line of defense had backfired.

After we had moved in together, it took me some time to adjust. In addition to the challenges I was facing in terms of the soundness of my body and mind, I was now the adult male in a young family home. I was in a relationship with the lady of the house, and so faced a new truth: my destiny lay either in fatherhood, or failure in this new context.

The emergence of Daddy Dan took place sometime in the second year of my new family situation. In fact, it had ceased to be altogether new, and I was settling into a role. It took time to find my feet, to find my place in the family. I have always loved kids, however, and these ones seemed to like me as well; the development of our relationship was quite natural.

The boys gradually took up a larger portion of my heart. I am prone to thinking that my heart has room for all the good people in my life – but these kids were pushing me to make a special commitment. They needed more of me than I had ever given to a single other person. They demanded more of me even than their mother required. I began to see the real extent of what it was to love a child, my child. My children.

Kieran and Emery have taken to calling me Daddy. In Kieran’s case, it’s often Dad. Emery, ever operating on a level all his own, once called me a Dumb Dirty Buffalo. Thankfully, I am not identified with this filthy critter on a daily basis.

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Today, water flows thicker than blood, or at least as thickly. Popular adage seems to deny me that privilege, but I would propose that like in Moses’ time, the water has become a blood of its own – and it is that much more potent for the magic that effected the transformation.

How is it that I can stand in the threshold – my eternal vigil in life – looking in on my sleeping boys, and melt inside? How is it that with their laughter and tears they carve their names into my very bones? If they hurt, I hurt; when they feel joy, I rejoice.

I was the outsider, but they have brought me in and made me their own. They have made me Dad.


A new look

Well, what do you think?

I was encouraged lately by an acquaintance of mine to lighten up a little. Thanks for the solid advice, Brian.

I also want you all to know that in addition to providing the very personal, Dan-type stuff you’ve come to know and (I hope) love here on parrington.wordpress.com, I’ll be starting up a Books & Writing blog within the next few weeks. Turns out I need a professional image, too! Who’d have thought. (Well, Desmond did.)

This also seems like the right time to thank a few of the people who’ve made my first (nearly) two month in blogging both interesting and rewarding. A special thanks to Jason Alan, who always speaks his mind. Thanks also to Mysterious Man from the Shadows, whose thoughtful posts never fail to get my mind turning.

It’s been a particularly good two months, blogging aside. Almost four years ago, I was in the midst of alcoholism, drug abuse and major depression. The girl I met at that time- now my wife- helped me see myself as I was, and as I had become in the midst of all this. These past three and a half years have been a time of an intense struggle for healing. I was fighting for my body, I was fighting for my soul. And she was there, fighting alongside me, every single step of the way.

If you knew me then, but weren’t aware of what I was going through- you aren’t alone. I became an effective chameleon, hiding the reality of my suffering and self-destruction from even those closest to me. Some of you did see the flip side of me. I can’t imagine it made you feel all that good. But what can anyone do, really, to help someone like that?

I am living, breathing evidence of the transforming efficacy of love. It was my love for someone special, and her love for me, that allowed me to finally summon the will and courage to face the BS and get myself on track.

After an exceptionally nasty episode at the hospital, and many tears on the part of my devoted partner, I finally consented to begin treatment. I began seeing a crisis counselor and a psychiatric doctor. They started me on meds, and asked me to stop drinking. I did. Well, for the most part, anyways.

I felt like a slug for two and a half years. The meds made me drowsy most of the time, and I gained more than fifty pounds. This, surely, was my personal hell: no energy, and a body that would no longer co-operate.

But I was getting better, behind all that. Week by week, from month to month, the anger and confusion in my heart were being overcome. I choose that word specifically: they were being overcome, not removed. I still carry them, and many other pieces of baggage, today. It was the process of slowing down and engaging in a little bit of introspection, bathed in the care and affection of my family, that enabled me to get the upper hand in my struggle for self-control. And not just self-control, but self-love, and a sense of peace with my reality.

These past two months, however, have been the best yet. I started a new medication- got my energy back and lost twelve pounds. I rebooted my online presence, started a blog and reconnected with a lot of special people. I’ve been out to spend time with friends and family more than I have in years. And all this without getting blind drunk!

You may find all this a little strange. You may not even recognise me as I have described myself here. What I’m really trying to tell you is that I’ve found my legs again. I am revelling in change, holding tight while I once again become aware of the glorious adventure that is life.

And I’m awfully glad to have you along for the ride.


Two Boys

On December 10th, 2004, and January 29th, 2008, the two best things I ever missed took place: Kieran and Emery, respectively, were born. These two, as you may know already, are my unnatural offspring- my nongenetic progeny. They’ve given me a lot to think about, and a lot to laugh about. Today it is my intention to show their greatness to the world- and the greatness of their impact on me.

Kieran Dennis James is destined, at one point or another, to be called ‘DJ’. This has never disturbed my very tranquil sleep, but for his mother it is an undying nightmare. You’ll have to ask her about it- I don’t completely understand.

Kieran (we won’t stoop so low, my love- fear not) was born, as was his brother three years later, to Aura Delorme and Nondescript White Guy. In his case, we will indeed stick to ‘NWG’. His generosity as a donor of healthy genes is something I never cease to be thankful for. His ongoing contributions are less favorable, but we do manage. He did, after all, set me up with the best family around.

I mentioned Kieran’s cautious nature in my opening post. Let me expand on that a little: Kieran has a great big heart and a razor-keen mind, and his body seems to serve primarily in housing them. As a result, my oldest boy is always conscientious about avoiding scraped knees and bonked heads. We have him in basketball and swimming this summer, because of course he still needs a strong and healthy vehicle.

Kieran, at seven freakin’ years old, is already burning through the Hardy Boys and anything else I foist on him. He was at the head of the reading herd in school this year, and implores me to read to him when he finds something he’s just not quite ready to take on on his own. This, as you can imagine, is a boy after my own heart.

This is also a child of many questions. Strangely, he likes most of all to ask his most poignant, searching questions about two minutes before bedtime. I mean, these evening questions are of the “Where did Grandma go after she died?” and the “How do kids get made?” variety. I’m absolutely, unconditionally ready to sit down and help him find his way, but I do sometimes get the feeling a violin must get when it’s being picked up and dusted off by a king among players.

Emery was only born a year before my entry onto the scene. He grew up in a world where I was Daddy Dan and he was Emeroo, courtesy of my penchant to create nicknames. I had a little song I used to sing to him, and still do if I want to get him totally indignant:

Emeroo, Emeroo
If you poo, I will change you
If I pooed, would you change me too?

Thankfully, there is a lot less public defecation these days.

Emery doesn’t have the proverbial off switch. He really doesn’t- I’ve thrown movies, snacks, walks and quality conversation at him, and it all only serves to wind him up further. I cordially invite any one of you to come over and try it yourselves. Lately I simply channel it, rather than resisting it directly. I’m still trying to come up with a way that we can save on hydro with this kid’s incredible output. He runs, and falls, and gets up, and runs, and bounces off things. He loves to climb on his great uncle Steve. He loves to climb on anything available.

In Emery’s world, DDDs are played on the DDD player. Cats mow (say: m-OWW). Reckless climbers go crumbling back down the mountain. And when Daddy Dan says it’s bedtime, he’s saying the wrong words. When this happens, Daddy Dan is not Emery’s favorite guy anymore.

My policy with the boys is quite simple. Their mother and I provide the nurturing care and firm discipline, and the boys provide the fun. I don’t want replicas of myself, nor do I wish to do everything for them. I can’t live through them as they get older, and neither can they live through me as children. I want them to experience any number of small screw-ups, and I want them to be ready to acid the big screw-ups as a result. I encourage them, in the words of Miss Frizzle, to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” Mommy doesn’t like that last part as much as me.

Let me add that while Dan is always the boss, period, he will always listen, period. It goes almost without saying that the Boss behind the boss is the Mommy behind the Dan- but she lets me play.

This summer we have the boys in camp for two weeks each, and in swimming lessons and sports weekly. We spent a gorgeous week in Quebec at their great-grandparents’ place, and we’ll travel to a few more especially neat places before the sunny days run out. Above all, however, it’s the days where we simply spend our time in each others’ company that I value most highly. These days happen once, and are gone. Because I spend them with you, little ones, they will always be sacred to me- each one.

Here’s a quote, in closing, from my enthusiastic and loving spouse: “You could punch me in the face fifty times, and I wouldn’t care. But you touch one hair on the head of my guys, and I’ll beat you senseless.” Better keep away from those cute little noggins, folks.


Dan & Aura

Aura Lynn Delorme was born on July 2, 1976. When she was halfway through grade six- on December 26, 1988- Daniel William Parrington made his own appearance. At the time, she was not aware of the allure he would later cast over her, entwining her in his sweet and fragrant meshes. Nor did he know about the girl who would eventually annihilate his defenses and utterly rule his heart.

Quite an age gap, as some of you have noticed. Well, let’s get that out there right from the start. Look at it this way: I get the benefit of being married to a woman, a real woman. Never have I had such an understanding or self-assured partner- never have I been with someone so wise to my devious nature. She keeps me accountable, and she bathes me in a warm and worldly love.

Aura, of course, has the dubious privilege of sharing her life with me. She seems to enjoy herself, though.

Well, that little girl did eventually grow up. She got to spend her childhood in the eighties, and her teen years in the nineties- the extent to which I envy her is monumental. Half the music I listen to is from before I was old enough to be listening- or in some cases, before I was ever imagined into existence by my folks. And yes, I know it takes more than imagination to form a child; I don’t dwell on these things.

I grew up, too, although I haven’t been able to quite catch up with Aura. Many of you have been with me through those growing up years, and what you don’t know already, sooner or later I will write about. But right now we need to skip ahead to my nineteenth birthday- December 26, 2008. I was in the midst of my time at Chapters, and I had met Aura very briefly upon her return from maternity leave. She was preparing a family for us, you see.

Not much need be said about the situation within which Aura existed before we finally got together. There was a miserable fellow who shared his misery with anyone who would listen, and he helped to provide us with the makings of a beautiful family. At one point, I suppose, he had had charm to exert; but the charm had long given way to a black cloud. Aura was, in a word, unhappy.

Now, some of you may feel uncomfortable with what happened next. May I assure you, if it helps, that my intentions were always good- and so were Aura’s. Everything was aboveboard, believe it or not, and no irrevocable action was taken by either of us until after Aura had left and severed emotional ties with her then partner.

With the passing of time in a shared workplace, my interest was sparked and burst into flames. This girl had eyes like bottomless pools, a heart as tender as that of a child, and a mind as sharp as the Cutco knives I used to sell. It didn’t hurt that she was prettier than sunrise in the foothills of Alberta. I asked her to lunch, coffee, a staring match- whatever- until she said yes. She needed a friend, I needed a friend, and we found each other.

We saw a lot of each other over the next several months, and it came out that Aura was planning to leave her partner. She was tired of the lousy match, and ready to go her own way. I begged her to let me join her in that journey, and it didn’t take a whole lot of begging before we had come up with a course of action. She moved into 839 Talwood Dr. on April 18th, 2009- and so did I.

Over the next year, I found my life transformed from that of a single working guy to a committed relationship with two kids. It was hard. It was really hard, believe me. But I was happy, too- I was beginning to see that I had found a security and responsibility that I had been craving very deeply without even knowing just how much I wanted it. We helped each other through some hard times, in those early days, and dealt with a lot of drama. Adaptation took time, and Carol had been diagnosed with cancer within weeks of our moving in. Still, we were in love, and the process of becoming family had begun.

A year or so after our getting together, the boys started to see me as a second father. I was getting very attached to them as well, and began to understand that I had two boys. This was by far the most beautiful and difficult process that had taken place yet. Relinquishing sole parenthood, for Aura, must have been tremendously hard- and as she did, I came to see just how total she trusted me. These were her babies, her only children- and she chose to share them with me.

On November 12, 2011, we were made man, wife, and sons. A number of you were there- it is a precious day in our memories, Thank you, by the way, for being there and making it all it was. To those of you who were not with us: your friendship, near and far, past and present, has nevertheless helped us in getting to where we have. And we do apologise for the inexcusably extreme lateness of our Thank You cards! They will show up at some point, as absurd as that might seem now.

That’s about the whole story. My relationship with Aura continues to grow in mutual understanding and affection, and we are making plans to enrich and expand our experience for years to come. With the involvement of our immediate and extended families, and the support and fun provided us by our friends, we have great hopes for a long and happy existence as a family unit.

So again, thanks for the role you’ve played in our story so far. I hope you’ve enjoyed my primer on Dan and Aura. I’ll do a write up specifically on the boys sometime, too. And actually, I plan on writing about a few of you pretty soon. Stay tuned and I’ll see you there-

Cheers, Dan


Quebec

Today we are driving to the Eastern Townships of Quebec. By the time you read this, we may even be there. It’s a summer holiday, sure, but it’s also just loaded with significance to me. It’s not just a place where I go to get lost and then struggle to get directions in French. It’s not only fields of cows chewing cud, rivers through rural towns, hills or forests or hay bales. It’s home.

We used to go to Quebec every summer, and some Christmases- me, Julianne and Michael, Mom and Dad. It’s an eight hour drive, with stops, from Peterborough to Sherbrooke, the nearest real city to my grandparents’. As kids, it might as well have been a week in that car. As parents to three busy and impatient kids, it must have been closer to a month.

I can see the road now. Down to the 401 and East for the longest leg of the trip, but the easiest. In the pilot’s seat, now, I practise for Quebec’s drivers by attempting to aggressively cut off every other vehicle on the way there. By the time I reach Montreal, the fantasy has become a reality, and we struggle to remain on track and in one piece, horns going off like the voices of angry herd animals all around us. It’s survival of the Frenchest, and I only took it at school.

Of course it was Dad driving. After the concrete madness of Montreal, our station wagon proceeded yet further East, seeking refuge in the long green roadways of the Townships. Mountains- Orford the greatest among them- would rise and fall before us, and the tall trees of Quebec would rise to greet us as we approached our goal. Steadily the towns grew smaller- Sherbrooke, East Angus, Cookshire, Sawyerville.

An abandoned sugar camp lies outside Sawyerville on the way to Chemin Riviere du Nord. Closed in on two sides and overhead by the darkest old trees, the fabled Wolf House- a tree fort built by who knows what now-elderly Quebecois children- came and went on our left. Now we were close, so very close- road weariness fell away and blossomed into anticipation.

Now, as I take my kids to my grandparents’ place for the second time in their lives, I once again feel the old familiar flush. My heart rises in my chest and I know that after crossing over six hundred fifty kilometers, I am nevertheless back home.

Gordon and Audrey Bowker are my grandpa and grandma. For the boys, they are great-grandpa and grandma. It is my intense pleasure to be able to share this. Aura has no living grandparents, so I love that I can provide her with a couple as well.

Grandma- whose middle name is Mabel, which she despises- rules the kitchen. From it come forth the fruit of flour, sugar and oil; it flowers with pea soup and boiled beans and homemade mayonnaise. Cookies dance behind Grandma’s eyes and on her counters.

It’s Grandpa, however, who works the earth. His gardens spill out across the enormous back yard. A greenhouse sits well back, full of tomatoes. Potatoes wait silently in their places beneath the surface, and blueberries climb skyward in their wide bushes.

We used to go hunting for pyrite in a shale deposit nearby. I don’t think the deposit is there anymore, although I have yet to revisit the site. I’ll have to have a look this time. There was an endless supply of those deceptive treasures- Fool’s Gold- when we went out with our hammers in years gone by.

The neighbors are nice folks, too. As a matter of fact, Grandpa and Grandma’s youngest child never moved away, and Jeff lives there now with his family- his wife Carolyn and his boys James, Tim and Josh. I am waiting to find out when James starts going by Jim- that will mark the ultimate exit from childhood for me. My little cousins are so big now- not boys, but young men. We all do that sooner or later, though.

The old house is built on the site of its corresponding farm. Jeff runs the farm, now, and the grandfolks have moved next door to watch. Cows come to the edge of their field, just across the road, to mooch apples from suckers like us city folk. The boys had a ball last year, feeding these big goofy-looking animals. You just have to be careful not to lean onto the electric fence, something that drove me nuts as a kid.

When I was a boy I would bury myself in the basement for hours, losing all track of time in the pages of a vast trove of Reader’s Digests that reside there. These magazines date back to the seventies, if I remember correctly, and I never got tired of the feature pages of jokes and anecdotes. I used to devour the thriller contributions- stories about plane crash survivors, mountain climbers, encounters of the bloody variety with nature’s denizens. I still check on the collection whenever I stop by.

There are so many aspects of this visit I value. Sugar on snow in the middle of summer, thanks to snow kept in a freezer for months on end. Rows on rows of canned food, pickles and sauces from Grandma’s kitchen. Grandpa slaving away over his geneology research. Doing small jobs around the farm with Jeff.

What I really want to draw your attention to, though, is the tradition of love and the security of persistence that exists in this material dream. Violence can move down through the generations, spreading its rot through hearts that did nothing to instigate it. We hear about that sort of perpetuation all the time. But the propagation of love across time is also real, and my grandparents embody that. The reason I’m so happy to take my boys there is not just a nostalgic thing, but one that stems from my desire to continue this precious tradition.

Grandpa and Grandma are living much closer to the triple digit years than to their youth. Sooner or later, I will not have the substance of this dream to cling to. I want to be ready, when the time comes, to provide the same environment of affection and dependability to my own. Eight hours away is my second home- but I don’t need to go that far to feel the love.

My family rocks.


The Man in My Life

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I was going to get into some book stuff for today’s post. I was going to tell you just how I felt about Robertson Davies and C. G. Jung, but I think what I’ve gone with- something a little closer to home- is exactly what you need for a chuckle and a tender moment. I’ll come back to the literary boys sometime in the future.

Let me tell you about my dad. His name is William Andrew Cecil Parrington, a hoighty toighty name if there ever was one. He likes Bill better, for its brevity and clarity. I got the William for my middle name. Sometimes I call him Willy; I think he hates me a little when I do that.

Some people think Dad isn’t a social guy. What they don’t realise is that he’s actually a big sweetie with a heart of gold, tucked away in a somewhat cynical set of armor. Dad cares very much about the people who share his life, and has always worked very hard to take care of them. I am a case in point. Through all the trouble I gave him as a teen, he remained the same- ready to receive me back and teach me what he knew of life. I’m a tough guy to teach anything to, as I prefer the firsthand experience to the helping hand. I guess he figured since he was my dad, he could be the exception to the rule. I’m not saying he was right about that, but I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment.

Dad worked his way up from the factory floor to senior financial admnistration over the course of his married life. He was a strikebreaker in his twenties, but has taken the opposite view in his steadily mellowing age. I know he only did it because he wanted to take care of his family, though, and did the most immediately logical thing.

Sometimes I know we all thought Dad worked too much- was away from us too much. Maybe he was. But again, I know why he did it the way he did- and he still does. I still benefit today from the guidance he provides from his wide range of experience, and from the financial support he provides my own family when times turn hard. Maybe I would have benefitted from a little more face time with my dad, growing up. I still think he pulled off his juggling act with pretty fine flying colors.

Dad has worked at two chocolate factories, and two major producers of cosmetics. As a result, we of his clan are all well fed and beautiful. Those of you who went to school with me might remember when I started up my own business selling reject chocolate from the factory at a major discount! I still long, sometimes, for the days of five bucks for a pound of chocolate, courtesy of Dan and his dad.

What does Bill do other than work, then? Although not a reader like his eldest son, Dad likes to read history and what I would describe as trivia: regional accounts, meanings of place names, family histories. He actually wrote a family history himself many years past, something that remains a typewritten artifact in the home filing cabinet. He managed my sister’s hockey team for a while when she was into that.

Dad is also an avid music fan. Rumor has it that he had and played an electric guitar when he and Mom got married, but she broke it over his head during a heated discussion. It’s possible I exaggerate. He did play the guitar, though, and does play the piano like a champ. He played at our wedding ceremony, remember? I told him what I wanted played literally a day before the ceremony, and he adapted not only one but five or six rock songs for the purpose! Aura’s processional music, by the way, was Dad’s keyboard rendition of Lou Reed’s cover of This Magic Moment. If that wasn’t a tricky ball to hit out of the park, I’m none wiser.

I myself am culpable for what could have been a serious injury to my Dad when I was younger. He was working on the garden hose setup in the backyard one day when it came about that he was in need of his Big Heavy Wrench. Seeking assistance from his responsible eldest, Dad asked me to fetch said wrench. I did, but I was in a hurry to get on with it and do whatever it was I was doing. Quickly analysing the situation, I ascertained that the shortest path between the wrench and my father was through the air. So through the air it went, and as he turned to look at me- a smile full of hapless innocence on his face- it struck him right between the eyes. How he survived, I don’t know. I saw him a couple nights ago, though, and he looks alright.

I think you can tell how much I like this man. Yeah, he’s got a warped sense of humor, but I laugh at his jokes. You have to remember I nearly killed him. You know what the worst thing my dad ever said was? It was “Tronk”. No one has ever even said that word before, not before my dad. But one day when he was fixing my sister’s bed, it fell on his leg and boy, did he let out a “Tronk”. I don’t use that sort of language myself, you understand, but I forgive it in a stand up guy like him.

Enough about my old man. You’ll hear about him now and then, naturally, so it seemed fair to write him up for you. I hope you all get to meet him- and maybe get to know him- sometime in your life. I’ve had a while to check it out, and you know what? It’s totally worth it.


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