Fond Musings: My Father

My WTF Wednesday series got me thinking about the good that lingers beyond my various curtailed relationships. This post is a resulting glimpse.

My father has always been a doer, skillfully designing, making, building, repairing, re-organizing and cleaning anything. Garages, appliances, gardens, tools, houses, furniture, toys, swings and meals. He can paint and draw. He can pickle and jam. He flips omelettes and pancakes, rolls pastry, kneads bread, threads sergers, fries doughnuts. He can even knit. He patiently, confidently gets things done.

My first memories of my father are of his daily morning exercise. No one jogged way back then but he’d get up early each morning and, in our wood-panelled family room facing our sliding patio doors, he’d jog on the spot. Toddler me would sit on the floor, eyes glued to his feet. Fascinated that eventually all I’d see was a blur.

My fond memories of my father involve him doing: driving our various VW bugs; packing and unpacking our baby blue camper; marking homework; filleting, battering and frying our freshly caught fish; stripping furniture; researching genealogy; hand-piecing quilt blocks; caning chairs.

Each winter, for years, my father would transform our painted-grey suburban back porch into a warm, damp, earthy homemade greenhouse. I can still feel that air and sense the exciting rows of seedlings that would eventually adorn our home.

I remember cross-country skiing with my father on the Cataraqui golf course. The tether-ball poll he erected for me when I passed my piano exam. And unlimited, unsupervised access to his workbench, vice grip, saw, soldering gun and drill.

And when completely-unathletic-me discovered a talent for Flexed Arm Hang, I fondly recall standing for ages each morning, at my father’s suggestion, with forearms horizontal at elbow level shakily holding two large Life World Library books.

I remember my father waking us mornings to wacky singing and dancing. And us waking him as he sat sleeping in the car outside our convent-resident piano lessons. His patient math and physics help. The smell of his engineering lab, just beside my grade 9 locker. Walking to school and back together in grades 7, 8 and 9. His skilled harmonica playing, diligent practicing of banjo and unselfconscious piano plunking. His impressively huge helpings of pepper and jam. His jaunty, unmistakable gait.

My father loved and had silly fun with our wee ones, right from the start. Generously bestowing upon them his time, talents and resources. Always wishing them the very best.

Whatever you do,
Do with your might,
Things done by halves,
Are never done right.

That’s what my father always said. For years, I misheard “halves” as “hands” and was completely bewildered. Did I have magic powers I didn’t know about?

Also….

Love your enemies, it drives them nuts.

That one never caught.

My father taught me that it was harder but better to swim upstream. And insisted that I did just that. He taught me to value authenticity, achievement and excellence; education, commitment and independence. He instilled in me family and cultural pride. He taught me to always dump a jealous man.

My father worked hard to keep our family together when most wouldn’t have.

I am grateful for his good.

  • Andrea, again you share a glimpse into your life that impresses me with your candour and openness. You are an inspiration.

    • Thank you for taking time to read these, Alexa. And for your thoughtful feedback. xo

  • Janice Toews

    yes, Andrea – another beautiful tribute. I see why you are such an over-achiever, with parents like that. My father was much more low-key, and taught me the value of laying around and reading a book ;)

    I was trying to find a photo that looked familiar. I remember your mom, but not your dad. I would have met them in 1988.

    • Ha! Thank you, Janice.

      Yes, I always feel very lucky to have been brought up making, building, doing from scratch. Funny that you didn’t recognize my father — to me he seems to have looked fairly identical all through the years.

      Thank you for stopping in to share my musings and for your thoughtful responses.
      xo

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