Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I'm trying.

This is my Dad. Age 22. 1960. Nearly a year before he married my Mom.

My Dad died many years ago now. I wish I could talk to him about this photo. But I can't so I will focus on what I know. He's in a camp, a logging camp in northern Saskatchewan or Manitoba. He once told me that his logging days were some of his best. Good friends. Hard work. Away from home. He didn't much appreciate his roots.

My Dad was an extrovert. Born confident or so it seemed to me. Much like my oldest brother. In this photo he looks a bit like his own father, a big swath of dark hair. I see myself in there too. Never once did I see my Dad wear a sweater so I guess he was uncomfortably cold. Clothes were only ever just functional for my Dad. So many more things were so much more important: land, hard work, the news, women who punched men in the movies, The Flintstones.

Although my Dad loved to talk and I appreciated listening, I didn't always pay attention. Yet I heard enough and I certainly watched what he did. Those images are indelible now. And what did his actions say?
1. Lead.
2. Drive fast.
3. Don't hurt kids.
4. Pay your bills; pay a few others' bills too.
5. There's hidden potential in most things, especially what others would deem as junk.

I have my suspicions about how my Dad learned these lessons. Poverty in his youth shaped his story. He was the oldest son saddled with too much responsibility too soon, he loved the freedom and escape connected to a powerful engine, he knew too well what it meant to be a hurt kid. Poverty taught my Dad to manage money but also help his neighbours. But mostly poverty made him a problem-solver, to make something out of nothing just to survive. Sadly, it scarred him too. He struggled to forgive some and understand others. Poverty sucked the ease out of him and replaced it with worry, occasionally quite irrational worry. He could not relax. He could not stop working.

There's a valuable saying I like: "put your future in good hands, your own." That's what my Dad's life said.

And I'm trying Dad. I was never as strong as you but I'm trying. I'm trying.

5 comments:

Pearson Report said...

I literally got out of bed, turned on my computer so I could write this comment (I read your post on my iPhone - way too cumbersome for commenting) because it is moving and it touched a nerve.

My dad is still with us - he's a tough old codger, and was a tough dad. Over the last few years I have had (still have) talks with him and steer him into conversations about his youth and coming to Canada from Austria - I have my voice recorder on (without him being aware) and it's been so amazing to have insight to what he was like as a young man.

Your father would be proud of you, and he would have loved this post. I teared up reading it.

Thank you for sharing such heartfelt sentiments about a great man. The apple does not fall far from the tree...

And, keep on trying… it's all we can do.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Dads. They're complicated alright. You're right that poverty scars.

Cindy said...

David, I remember your Dad's slow and steady way of talking, a comfortable drawl.

Mrs4444 said...

"So many more things were so much more important: land, hard work, the news, women who punched men in the movies, The Flintstones." I loved this part; you are a great writer. I enjoyed this.

Mel said...

What a beautiful reflection this is on such a complex man.

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