Until last week, my dad lived about two hours away from me with his wife and my little brother, James, who is 5 1/2. This meant we could see them fairly frequently and even when we didn’t see them (we being me and my sister, Beck), there was always the comfort of knowing they were close by. But last week they packed up the car and headed west, back to BC from whence we all once came.
My dad and I have been emailing back and forth lately. This is something we didn’t really do before, other than to coordinates visits or meeting at the train station. He’s been reading my blog from almost the beginning, so he gets a look inside my world and my thoughts in a way a lot of people’s parents don’t.
Recently told me about how he was thinking about me and my sisters, about how much of our adult lives he has missed, how his inability to openly express or discuss his feelings has affected all the relationships in his life. That’s not his fault, or necessarily even true. We know what we know, and it can be difficult learning new ways of doing things. I think my dad and I are alike in that it’s easier for us to say things in writing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, the things that need to be said are still being said.
When I tell people about my emails with my dad, they are astounded by his courage to admit these things. They say, the fact that he is learning to say these things to you in writing is so wonderful. I wish I could have these conversations with my dad.
Everyone wishes there was something different in their relationships with their parents. When my dad said that there were so many questions he wanted to ask me but was afraid to, or didn’t know how, I told him I felt the same way. And that there were so many things I felt I didn’t know about him.
So the other day, when my dad hit the road back to BC, I started posting facts about him on Facebook. Things I knew, things I remembered. It turns out, I think I know a lot of things about my dad. I know the important things. That he loves me. That he’s proud of me. That he trusts me.
So here are the facts about my dad that were posted throughout the day on June 13th, the day he started his journey home. Happy father’s day, dad. I love you.
Fact about my dad: The only songs I have ever heard him sing are “O Canada” and the Batman-smells version of “Jingle Bells”.
Fact about my dad: the only thing he ever wanted for Christmas or his birthday was BBQ peanuts and a Laz-E-Boy. He got only the peanuts until the year we could afford the chair. It was pink. He never got BBQ peanuts for a gift again.
Fact about my dad: he gave me my middle name because it was his Nana’s name. She and I together probably account for about 90% of his grown-up crying.
Fact about my dad: He really likes Great Big Sea.
Fact about my dad: He let me start using the weed wacker when I was the same height as the weed wacker.
Fact about my dad: We danced together at his wedding, but not my prom.
Fact about my dad: He usually sleeps on the floor instead of in a bed but when he sleeps in a bed, like me, he dangles his feet off the end.
Fact about my dad: He refers to farts as “wood ducks”.
Fact about my dad: He used to build me bonfires in the backyard and give me a stick to poke it and a container of gasoline to spray on it.
Fact about my dad: He let(s) his kids “drive” the car up the street and into the driveway (seatbelt off, in the lap). When I was old enough to reach the pedals, he let me drive for real at the dump.
Fact about my dad: When I was in grade four, my dog was hit by a car. He gave me a permission slip to take to school the next day so I could call at recess and find out how Jake was doing. I called my dad and he started crying and told me Jake was dead. I started crying, and he asked if I wanted him to pick me up from school. I said yes, he came and got me, and we sat in the car and cried and he kept apologizing for not having fixed the fence. That was the first time my dad had to tell me over the phone that my dog had died.
Fact about my dad: His favourite game to play with babies is “Gotcher nose!” He’s really good at it.
Fact about my dad: He punched out the first tooth I ever lost when we were horsing around on the living room floor and he was threatening — in jest — to knock it out if I didn’t pull it out.
Fact about my dad: When we went on a camping trip when I was 16 and I took off with the boy at the campsite next to ours after everyone went to sleep, instead of embarrassing me by yelling at the both of us, he just said sternly, “I almost called the police because I didn’t know where you were. Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?” After I “explained” myself, he told me I could have half an hour to say goodbye. I made out with that boy for three hours in a field, and when I went back to the tent, my dad said, “You are grounded when we get home” and then teased me about it the next day when we ran into a family friend. That boy thought my dad was pretty cool for trusting me. I thought so, too, and claimed I didn’t know I was gone for three hours because I wasn’t wearing a watch.
Fact about my dad: He used to let me have sips of his beer when he watched sports on TV.
Fact about my dad: My dad took in my other dog, Pele (AKA The Pelican), when I was sick the first time. He had him for a year and a half. Pele stopped eating after I visited one Christmas, and my dad took him to the vet. They sedated the dog to look down his throat and he never came back from the sedation; his liver wasn’t working. My dad called me on New Year’s day of 2005 and he was crying. I knew before he said it that something happened to my dog. He couldn’t stop apologizing then, either.
Fact about my dad: He did my science fair project for me when I was in grade three.
Fact about my dad: When he was teaching me to drive, I spun out on an icy street and ended up on someone’s lawn. When the car finally stopped, he thanked me for not freaking out and screaming as I lost control of the car. It made me feel proud.
Fact about my dad: He never finished teaching me how to drive. I never learned how to parallel park and I never got my license.
Fact about my dad: He has killed more than one deer with a car.
One final note: I had a lot of people come up to me after I’d posted these facts about my dad. I was told that people felt like they knew him and that they miss him, too. That he sounds big-hearted. That he is funny. That it inspired them to think about their own dads. That it’s clear from what I posted, my dad has a lot of love.
Dad, if I’m wrong about any of these facts, you can correct me in the comments.