Well Dad, it’s hard to believe that over 34 years have passed since you shuffled off this mortal coil. I guess in your case it was more of a push than a shuffle. A massive heart attack isn’t exactly subtle is it?
I think of you often but not in a sad way. There are still times I wish I could pick up the phone and call you just to hear your reassuring voice or ask a question I know you can answer. During one of my darkest times in Calgary, I phoned and just hearing your voice was enough to get me through the day.
We had some great times when I was growing up. We had some tough ones too but I seldom think of them anymore.
The good memories are always front and center. Remember when you were Chief Warden in Riding Mountain National Park and we drove the old (it was even old by 1960’s standards) multi-passenger Bombardier on patrol across the woodlands and fields to the Warden Station at McCreary. It was at least 30 below and while the trip there was pretty well uneventful the trip back not so much. The Bombardier, which was being driven by one of the other wardens, decided to stall out like it was running out of gas. All of us piled out into the colder weather while he tried to find the cause of the fuel starvation. I say colder because heat inside the vehicle wasn’t exactly stellar. There turned out to be so much debris in the gas that it kept clogging the fuel filter. He’d clean it, we’d pile back in and head off for a few more miles only to repeat the process again. If it had been today, simply cleaning a screen wouldn’t have been an option. No cell phones or radios back then, only a long cold walk if we couldn’t get it going. Scary but fun.
You could wear a hat like no one I’ve ever met. That little jaunty slip to the side. It didn’t matter if you were in your Stetson, cowboy hat, or ball cap, you wore it well.
I loved going out on patrol with you. Hopping into that official government vehicle with the red light on the roof and the siren sometimes mounted on the fender, made me feel like I was someone important or at least with someone important. During my last summers at home when the annual influx of young crazies came to town those were exciting times.
The bison round up at Elk Island National Park was always interesting and exciting to watch as a bunch of wardens in their trucks tried to keep a herd of bison going in the direction of the corrals. Sirens blaring, trying to cut off the one or two animals that were attempting to get away.
While it could have been tragic, seeing one of the wardens run into a stump he didn’t see and coming to a grinding halt was really quite funny. Especially as we could hear the siren slowly wind down. It truly was a movie moment. Then the discussion on how to explain to the Superintendent one of the vehicles was out or commission because it was being used like a horse instead of a truck. Those Superintendents could be such penny pinchers couldn’t they?
Dad, you would really be proud of your grand kids now. I know you were proud of them all while you were with us, so this isn’t a stretch. I also think that in some way you paved the way for two of them to join you. I hope that in the ethereal spirit world you are in, that you and they, can sense the love you shared.
By the way, you also have five Great Granddaughters and two Great Grandsons. And they are “great” in every sense of the word. I wish they could have met you.
I have two wonderful remembrances. First, that day I dropped you off in Brandon at the rehab center after a weekend pass. You told me that your drinking days were finally over. You were the one that made the decision. I knew it was true.
Second, the last time I saw you in Edmonton. You were standing at the hockey rink watching Brett’s game and I had to get back to Victoria. You were standing there, your hip cocked to one side as you were want to do, cigarette in hand, hand on your hip, and you were wearing your beaver skin hat. You also had a big smile on your face. We hugged each other goodbye not knowing that it would be the last time.
So Dad, I can’t wish you a Happy Father’s Day in person so I’m going to wish a Happy Father’s Day to four of the best Dad’s I know and who I’ve actually had in my life longer than you.
So, Happy Father’s Day Hap (63 years), Kelly (63 years), Bob (44 years), and Rick (37 years).