|Dad on his 65th birthday|
There's this guy I know. I call him Dad. Sometimes Daddy. Sometimes Turtle. Often Grandpa. But mostly, just Dad.
My dad turned 65 this weekend. I can't quite get my head around it. My dad is a senior. I still remember when he turned 40 and how very old I thought he was then. Now I'm almost 40 and my dad is a senior.
In my head, he is still this guy…
|The first time Dad fed me in the hospital|
|My parents in their 20's with me, their first born.|
Young. Athletic. Handsome.
I would venture to say that he's still handsome.
I can remember sitting in the back seat of our orange Jeep, top town. Dad driving in cutoff jeans and no shirt. Wind whipping our hair as the sun blazed down.
I can remember Dad swooshing down the slopes in the winter each Saturday, when we went skiing. He looked so cool and sporty as I stood there at the bottom of the hill in my little skis and pompom toque. I wanted to be just like him.
I remember him with a cool beer in his hand on a sunny afternoon. Laughing with his friends. Barbecuing. Having fun.
|One of my favourites… dad playing with me.|
He was energetic and fun. He'd sing to us while giving us a bath. He'd play ball with us in the back yard.
He made up words like "todelemdo." He'd use funny sayings like, "Lord, love a duck." He called us all silly little nicknames.
He made the BEST toasted peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
He was even-keeled. Patient. Calm. Ready to laugh.
Man, did I adore my dad. I loved snuggling up to him. I loved being near him. I loved playing with him.
|Mouth full of turtle cupcake… made especially for him.|
I remember him when I was 13 and his mom died. He was strong. I could see the sadness in his eyes. It didn't seem quite right to me that Grandma was gone. But I saw dad stay strong and comfort his Grandma as she buried her daughter.
When I was in high school, he was my cheerleader. I knew that no matter what, he would be proud of me. Never once did I doubt that. Not once. He drove us to our varied activities. Sat in the car while we had lessons. Came to our recitals and sports events.
He chose family over money. I always knew he was there for me.
He good-naturedly took on the nickname of Turtle. A name that has stuck to this day. The theme of his birthday party this weekend. The theme of many gifts over the years, until mom had to put her foot down and announce a moratorium on turtle gifts.
I remember our many long talks. He would talk with me for hours about whatever was on my mind. He would often offer a different perspective. A larger perspective. Help me see things through other people's eyes.
He helped make me the person I am today.
He drove me 1600 kms to my first year of college. It happened to be in the same city where he spent many of his growing up years. The same city where he met my mom. We drove past his high school and some of his old haunts. I will cherish that weekend forever. I learned a lot about my dad that weekend. And then, like that, I had to say goodbye. He left me to start my own life. I cried. I did not want to say goodbye to my dad.
And then a few years later, he walked me down the aisle.
And a few more years later, he became grandpa to my children. And how dad would dote over those babies. He is so good with babies.
And then, when I would miss him because we lived far away, I would watch curling and it would remind me of him. So, I came to love curling because of my dad.
|Dad and Nate when he was a year old. Dad and Nate had a special relationship back then. Nate followed him around everywhere and would cry when dad went into another room for too long.|
Dad gave me the inner confidence to be my own person. He and mom both did. But having the unwavering love of my Dad, I knew that I did not have to settle if I ever got married. I found a man who loves me for who I am - just like my dad did. Respects me, just like my dad did. Supports me, just like my dad did. Listens to me, just like my dad did.
My dad is a good soul. He tears up watching the Olympics. Or American Idol. Or anything, really, that shows people's triumph or happiness.
He can still challenge my brothers, who tower over him, in a wrestling match - using his skills from university, when he wrestled competitively.
If I need him, I know that all I have to do is pick up the phone and he'll be there.
He is happy to take the back seat and let the rest of us take all the attention, dominate the conversations, or choose the activities. Which is why it was so fun, this weekend, to watch him be the centre of attention.
And to see him happy. Genuinely happy. Even though things weren't perfect and people he loved were missing.
|Dad's birthday party… letting Finn help in the festivities|
There have been some bumps along the way. Life hasn't always been easy for my dad. But now, as he enters his golden years, I wish to see him as happy as he was on his birthday. To see his good health continue so he can enjoy his retirement - when he decides to retire. So he can travel with Mom. So he can watch his grandkids grow up. Do all the things he didn't have time for when he was so busy balancing family and work.
Thank you, Dad. Thank you for being who you are. And being my dad. And teaching me about life. And what love should look like. And for always being there.
I love you.