- Donations in lieu of flowers: help me raise $1200 for the Canadian Cancer Society
When we would go to friends cottages in summer he would always want to work. Painting decks, fixing sump pumps, motors, leveling foundations – whatever – when the work was there (and isn’t it always?) he would be there to do it.
At a party he wouldn’t be the most outgoing person there. But if you worked beside him – weeding, nailing cedar shingles into the log cabin roof, clearing twigs and brush from the lane – you’d get the jokes, the kindness the love. Maybe not in anything he said, but in the way he looked at you, watched you work, praised what you did, overlooked any mistakes you made.
He was a gentle man.
I always felt loved. He explained to me later that he and mom observed a fairly strict (not to mention traditional) division of labour. She looked after the kids. He looked after the money. And the repairs and the garbage. But he was present. And always looked kindly on his kids and only ever had good things to say about us.
It was really hard to make dad mad. Not that we didn’t accomplish this on occasion. Usually in the car. Especially on long drives.
He was funny too. A dry wit. Much more in evidence when he was healthy but he was still able to conjure humour when things were bad.
He was patient. Tolerant. Although he had a dislike of government and officialdom that bordered on irrational.
Did I mention that politically speaking he and I had some major disagreements? Did I also mention how he could always overlook them and love his son? Even when I went to work for a union?
I remember when his municipality decided to implement a uniform house numbering system when it brought its 911 program online. The town was charging home owners for the road signs. My dad was incensed. He refused to pay and so public works came and installed the sign themselves and charged triple. “See if they get a dime from me,” he said in a huff. I had to point out that they said they’d just add it to his property tax bill. Which they did.
He made other mistakes. More serious ones.
Though compared to what we have seen since, his misguided efforts to refinance his real estate holdings in order to protect his clients’ investments seem almost like charity work.
Nevertheless, he paid society for his mistake and paid a much higher social price.
Thank you to those of his friends that stuck by him despite his errors.
And thank you to Pittsburgh institution for letting him spend so much time learning the gardening trade in the greenhouse and at the farm there. It did actually help him turn his life around and rebuild. In his second career he always seemed much happier.
Naturally the current federal government has done away with those prison farms.
The photo of him is taken long before any of the sadness and illness of his later life overtook him. It was taken at the farm, the place that, literally, was his life.
He died there, Tuesday, unexpectedly, after a four year struggle with prostate cancer.