Saturday, June 26, 2010

Father in law

My father-in-law passed away June 19, with his family at his bedside, he was 84 years old. The following is the eulogy Kat wrote about her dad, I couldn't say it better:

My Dad

My dad will be truly missed. Growing up with my dad, he showed me a lot about life. He taught me about loyalty, kindness and looking on the good side of everyone. He never said a bad word about anyone, and when someone did say something unkind, he would tell them good aspects of the situation or person. People said my dad was an optimist, or an ostrich, depending on who you ask. But to me he was a determined optimist – the cup was almost always full to him.


My father taught me to sing in the car, to love a bargain, to love technology, to be kind and always try your best. He taught me that when it comes to parenting, respect and love are more powerful than yelling – he never yelled. He would tell you, it's your decision, but you may come to regret it – and he would try to use logic to change your mind - he was a parent after all. He never treated you as you were less because you weren't an adult. I can only hope he knew how much I love him.


My dad was a very loyal person, he was married to my mother for 54 years. While in the hospital all he was concerned about was how she was and if she was eating properly. He worked at the Metropolitan Toronto Water Treatment plants for over 35 years and ended his career as boss of the computer room, which controlled the water purifying process. He lived in his house for 45 years – he was a steadfast person you could count on.


I truly believe my father was the first geek. Long before personal computers, he was telling us that they would be the wave of the future, that we should learn them because we'll need them in our jobs one day. He predicted that movies would be able to be played in your house affordably. We all nodded, laughing a bit at his ideas... I'm sure, later, he laughed inside too knowing he was right! He was the first trekkie, and continued to watch Star Trek, including the new movie last year.


My dad loved life and always laughed. He had simple needs, a good apple or caramel banana pie (like his mother made), music and his computer. He would spend endless hours in the public library, getting books out about technology. I once asked him why he didn't read novels. He said that he never did, except when he was serving in the navy during World War II. He said he discovered the world of novels there, but he found after the war it only reminded him of those hours on the ship.


My dad never talked about the war, only little bits and pieces. I asked him why, I would have been interested in hearing about it. My husband also would ask him questions. My father only would say that he didn't like to talk about it, it wasn't something to tell stories about. He would talk about his time with the Merchant Marines and his life before the war, but not about the war.


During the last few years my father would talk about his childhood. He would tell us little stories about the things he was remembering. One of his favourite memories was sharing a room with his brother Roger. They had received a toy car as a present and laid in bed whizzing the car back and forth to each other. Then he would laugh and say how such a simple memory brought back the feeling of happiness he had with his brothers.


My dad talked often about going to the movies, there was no television back then, they would listen to the radio shows and go to the matinee. He talked of the serials – the lone ranger - he recently had watched them all on tv and laughed at how they didn't stand up to his memories. My dad had such a love of old movies. His favourite movies were The Quiet Man, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – well a lot of John Wayne and James Bond movies. My dad also had a love of musicals, which he passed on to me.


My father had a strong attachment to music, he continued to tweak his stereo system – there were more tweeters and woofers in his basement then a theatre has. Since he was losing his hearing, he would have them turned way up, so you had to withstand the sound to enjoy music with him. One of my fondest memories as a child is dancing in the basement with my dad to Hernando's Hideaway and Boney M's Rasputin. He also had a love for big band music.


My father's other big love was dogs. He told me one day his favourite dog of all was the afghan – Kaden. He said the dog wasn't bright, but he was so emotional and so loving. That dog loved my father and would follow him around the house. Kaden would escape, he loved to run, but if my father got in the car and stopped beside him and asked him if he wanted a car ride, that dog would jump into the passenger seat. So they would go round the block, with the window rolled down, the dog riding shotgun – because he would never lie, even to a dog.


When my father was in the hospital, they asked him about lifesaving measures, when he understood what they were asking, he simply said 'Why not try?' I think that message is one that layered through his life, he was a determined person who had no fear of trying – whether learning computers at age 50, building our pool, tiling the bathroom or being a good person – he always tried, and I can never remember him failing at anything.


I remember when his first grandchild was born. My dad said he was so happy. I said, yes, it's nice to see your line continue – he laughed, he said no, I just missed playing with a baby. He always spent time with his 4 granddaughters whenever he could, buying little presents like a little statuette of a bunny, or Disney movies to watch with the girls. He'd make sure there was some ice cream and didn't mind having silly conversations or making voices for toys. I know my children are not aware how he has coloured their lives, from the singing in the car, reading books, homemade oatmeal cookies, garage sales, the library and computers – my father's touch is everywhere in their lives.


I know my father is with his big brother Roger and his parents now. He missed them so, and I know he'll be waiting for us too one day, with his easy laughter and eyes shining. He wouldn't want us to be sad, he would want us to remember his love and to always be a determined optimist. My cup is not empty, it is full with memories of my dad.

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