This Father’s day is my first. Okay, it’s my thirty-sixth, but my first as a dad. Throughout pregnancy with my wife, my level of appreciation for my own parents has grown even more. Also, my level of respect for single parents has grown. How do they do it? I have two parents, both living in Nova Scotia, and both excited to meet their newest grandchild. In July, I am flying to Nova Scotia with my wife and our newborn to visit the proud and amazing grandparents. Like all new dads, I am scared and apprehensive, but I have a lot going for me. I grew up in a loving family and my own Dad was a great example. My parents had six children. Mum was a substitute teacher and Dad was a body mechanic. We never wanted for anything, but at the same time, as a kid, I never heard the term "disposable income.”
My Dad is the hardest working person I know. Period. He worked 8-5 as a mechanic, then came home for supper, followed by tea, and then the evening news with Mum. After the news, Dad would work around the house (chop wood, do renovations, finish yard-work, etc.). Dad did the "blue" jobs and Mum did the "pink" ones. Despite how hard he worked, Dad found time for us kids. He would take us to practices, play catch, or have us help with some job around the house. Occasionally, at night, he would find the couch and depending on the season, watch the Blue Jays or his Canadiens. I loved curling up on the floor below and watching the game with him. It was our thing. I would bring the pillow from my room and try my hardest to stay awake, so I would not be sent up to bed. As I got older, he brought me along to watch the local Junior hockey team play. Later, as I entered my teen years, I would sit across the arena with my friends to watch the games. On the ride home, Dad and I would debrief the game. He has always treated words as a non-renewable resource. Some of his few words were often reserved for the referees. I know few people who notice when referees are doing a good job. One of the many unspoken lessons I learned from Dad, was to appreciate the hard work of people who go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Dad has always been a kid at heart. We would steal his chair at the supper table and he would arrive home from work and grab us, crane-like, swinging us into our own chairs. During TV commercials, he had a habit of tickling us. The commercials always seemed to end just in time to avoid passing out or peeing myself. On our birthdays, he would always butter our nose (a strange Maritime ritual). Every year. No matter how prepared we were to avoid his sneak attack, he would manage to surprise us with the butter.
As a body mechanic, Dad took pride in his work. Every job Dad did, from mowing our lawn to painting a stranger's car, was a reflection of his character. Most kids grow up with the false belief that their dads can fix just about anything. For me, that was no myth. Still today, at 36 years of age, if the wisdom of the internet falls short at helping me fix anything, I call Dad, especially for car advice. I like to think I got some of his quiet wisdom and a fraction of his work ethic, but I do not disillusion myself into thinking I received his handiness gene. I hope that gene only skips one generation, for my son's sake. As a new dad, I am nervous and overwhelmed. However, I am lucky to have such a great example to follow. My Dad's shoes are too big to fill, so I will wear my own, but I am lucky to have such a great example.
Happy Father's Day everyone. See you in July, Dad.