Picture taken with my iPhone and edited with the VSCO app.
Spending the weekend with Miss G while the men are at cub camp. She likes to chat…all. the. time. I guess both my kids are like that…but, when she knows she has your undivided attention, she will just go on and on about everything in her head and her heart. At one point today, she was chatting about her restaurant. It is her dream(and has been since she was about two years old) to open a great restaurant called G’s one day. Today, she decided that in her restaurant there would be a private room where only her family could come and SHE would be the one that would serve them. Then, she casually started listing off who would be invited into this private room…when she got to grandparents, she got hung up. She stopped and looked at me…
‘Maybe they won’t be alive when I have my restaurant’ she says.
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ I say…’my grandma lived to be almost 93 so…you never know.’
And, then she goes on to talk about how healthy the three grandparents she has left are and how ‘papa’ wasn’t as healthy as them. And, then she just starts talking about Papa…all the things she remembers about him. Good and bad. Kids have no filter. And, now that the grief is fading, she has no qualms about saying the bad I just looked at her and said,
‘I miss my dad, sweetheart.’
‘Oh,’ she answered back lightly, ‘you don’t have to miss him. He’s right here.’
‘What do you mean,’ I asked…we are not very religious in our house, but we have had some more difficult talks lately about death, etc…you never know what is going to stick with kids though.
‘He’s up there’ she continues pointing to the sky, ‘but sometimes he comes down to be right beside us…’
‘Have you seen him,’ I ask…mostly, out of curiosity as to her answer.
‘No…oh no…he is actually in the jar at Grandma’s. I’ve seen him there, but sometimes, he is also right here.’
Kids are so smart.
It’s funny because I’ve been thinking a lot of him the last couple of days. We have this big picture of our wedding in a frame and every guest signed the mat. He signed ‘Together you’ll grow ~ Dad’ … love that I thought today would be a great day to share the words that I spoke at his funeral. It will be one of my life’s greatest accomplishments that I remained composed while I spoke. Here:
15 Lessons I Learned From My Dad
#1: It’s only money, you can’t take it with you. He ALWAYS said that. This would often frustrate my Scottish mother…especially, when he was bringing home his newest toy or gadget, but he had a point. His explanation, if you dug deeper(and let’s face it–Paul always wanted you to dig deeper if for nothing else but the opportunity to debate), his explanation was simple…money is just a means of exchange. You earn it in exchange for your time and knowledge. If you want more of it–you need either more time or more knowledge. And, then, you should spend it on the things you value…because life is short. What are you waiting for?
#2: ‘Oh Lord it’s Hard to Be Humble’ is not just a song…it’s a personal anthem.
#3: Avocados are best eaten with Catalina salad dressing.
#4: Music is life. There is a song for every occasion and you should listen to it, sing to it, dance to it…even if you(or the people around you) don’t think you can. Dad had a huge library of music on his iPad. He started every day by propping it up on the dining table, pressing play, and taking his pills. For the last few months, the first song he would play was ‘How Great Thou Art’…but it would quickly move into something else. He would tell anyone who would listen(or anyone who just happened to be standing by) that he had the entire Beatle’s library, as well as, every version of ‘Georgia On My Mind’ ever recorded. Many of my childhood memories of him involve him playing the guitar and singing Mac Davis, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins…and, of course, serenading Uncle Claude with ‘The Dusty Old Farmer’.
#5. Ice cream can be a meal…even breakfast. Just add fruit.
#6: Tomatoes are best fresh from the garden, eaten like an apple…sprinkled with salt. And, if you have never tasted a yellow tomato, you don’t know what you’re missing.
#7: 98% means there is still 2% of the way to go. Once when I brought home an exam from school with a grade of 98%, he didn’t look impressed even though I clearly was pretty impressed with myself. He just looked at me and asked what happened to the other 2%? He pushed us hard, but that was a gift because all of my success in life has come from this overachieving work ethic he instilled in me. You see… he taught me that success is something that you alone can define…and, it is entirely up to you to achieve it through hard work and knowledge. He once told me that the primary reason for going to University wasn’t to earn a degree, but to learn how to learn because being able to learn was the single greatest skill anyone could have. And, he was a passionate learner…he was a sponge when something caught his interest. Photography, computers, business…whatever it was, he set out to learn everything he could.
#8: Blueberry pies are simply the best kind of pies…especially when eaten with ice cream in your grandma’s summer kitchen.
#9: Life is Simple. Eat. Sleep. Fish. The man loved to fish…whether it was on a lake, off a dock or off the coast of Mexico…there is peace and reflection while waiting for that fish to bite. My favourite memory of dad and fishing is from way back…I am not sure how old I was, but we were out at the cabin and dad was fishing off the end of the dock one day. I desperately wanted to join him, but they didn’t want me there ‘disturbing’ the fish. You don’t talk while fishing–I was told– and I was a chatty little girl…plus, I didn’t have a rod–I wanna say that I think Greg had one because he was a boy, but I’m not totally sure on that part–so, I got myself a big stick, tied some line to it, stole a hook and sat in the middle of the dock. I plopped that hook in the water and, almost instantly, caught a perch. I ran down to the end of the dock and showed Dad. Surprised, he muttered something about beginner’s luck and unhooked the fish(I was a young girl after all so I didn’t unhook my own fish…I still don’t). I went back to the middle of the dock, plopped that hook in and pulled out another perch. I marched over and showed my dad…who by this point was scratching his head, but busy shooing me away from their coveted end of the dock spot. I gladly went back to the middle of the dock, plopped that hook in the water and instantly pulled out another perch…at this point, he got up and came to my middle of the dock spot where he saw that there was a huge school of perch feeding there. That’s when I learned that it’s okay to talk when fishing if it is to tell your dad that there is a huge school of perch under the dock.
#10. The world is a wondrous place and it is only as large as you think it is. When I was in junior high school, I remember him learning to speak Mandarin chinese to make his trips to the orient easier. He would steal one of us kids’ yellow Sony walkmans and listen to his language tapes. Then, he would inevitably fall asleep…while he was sleeping he would start speaking chinese in his sleep. We would joke around and answer him back. It was especially funny if friends were sleeping over…kind of like a party trick–hey, my dad speaks Chinese in his sleep As a youngster, watching him learn Chinese and travel to Asia was inspiring. In his life, he saw so many countries–he has been all over the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Central America, Asia…When I had the opportunity to travel to Europe as a teenager, he supported and encouraged me. He knew what a gift it was to experience other cultures and the insight that only international travel can bring into your life. I owe my love of travel to him. He knew that life was all about experiences and the only way to have those experiences was to create them yourself. You had a choice….you could sit on your butt and watch the world parade by … or you could jump in and join the fun. I have chosen to jump in…and I counted–he has me beat currently by 2 countries and a handful of American states…and, yes, it is a competition
#11: If you want people to party at your house, have a pool. And a sauna…and, maybe a pool table. And, a really great BBQ. A cabin is good idea, too…and a boat. With waterskis. He liked to have the best toys, but it was really so that he could share them with the people he loved. Toys are no fun if you don’t have friends to play with. And, friends can become family if you’re lucky. The same is true in reverse
#12: It is important to work hard, but it is equally important to know when to play hookie. I remember one time, I must have been about 12 years old and he literally came to school to pull me out of class. I can’t decide if it was my birthday or if I just felt like it was my birthday because he made it so special. We went to the Art Gallery…can you believe that? Who takes their kid there? well, he did…and he explained to me the importance of investing in Canadian artists. He taught me who the group of seven was and why they were important. And, then afterwards–this might surprise you all–but we went to Swenson’s and ordered the Earthquake Ice Cream Sundae. It was the only time I ever had one. I’m not so sure about him.
#13: Marry well. When I was pretty young, like maybe 18 or 19 years old, he told me that getting married was the biggest business decision I would make in my entire life. Of course, being a young woman I thought that sounded like such a ‘man’ thing to say…so completely unromantic. And, then he explained to me that it wasn’t at all…that it was true. That you needed a partner who had the same goals in life as you…who saw the world in the same way as you. One who would encourage and support your dreams, but be realistic and honest…and hardworking. And, of course, I’m pretty biased, but he chose my mom who is pretty awesome and I chose Bob who is absolutely wonderful. I also remember, as a teenager, Carol Wardell–a guide leader who we saw quite a bit of–once pointing out to me how much my parents touched. How often they hugged or held hands or just plain put a hand on each other’s shoulders. She told me how fortunate I was to have this example for my own life…and, now that I am almost 11 years into my own marriage, I can see that she was right.
#14: Family is everything. Growing up…when it came time to do my family tree, well, to say that it was confusing and complicated on Paul’s side is quite the understatement. And, introducing a relative and explaining the connection often left the outsider standing there with a blank look on their face. Dad’s family is large and complicated…and, if you have the luck to be from a large family then you will know what an extreme blessing it is. Dad’s unique introduction to the world gave him an appreciation of this fact that made him fiercely loyal and passionate about his many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles. Family functions for us kids were always mandatory. And, how lucky were we to be embraced by so many. We have especially felt it in the last 10 days.
#15. ‘Let’s go for a Sunday drive’ is code for Dairy Queen is still open.
We had dilly bars at his memorial service. They are now the sweetest treat we can give our kids…
Slowly breathing again. Thank you all for your love and support. I’ll get back to blogging here…I promise.