Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day Post 2019

Wedding Day 1979
My Father and I

A week or so ago I shared with readers the lowest point in my life in 1969.  Those who read the post know that it was my father who got me through it.  I don't know if I would have even survived that year without the steady, unconditional love of my father.  What I didn't say in that post was that I was one of nine children and my father gave the same quality of love to all of us.  We always knew he had our back while allowing us to fly on our own and seek our own potentials.

My father wanted me to be an artist.  He always said I "could be another Grandma Moses".  He never understood that the last thing I wanted to be was "Grandma Moses"...I wanted to paint like the Pre-Raphaelites, my favourite period of painting.

One of the most important gifts my father gave to us was a certain flair, a certain joie de vivre.  He attended McGill University, Montreal where he graduated with a mining engineering degree in 1939.  His family was steeped in Irish history, politics, culture, poetry and song.  We all loved Gilbert and Sullivan and knew the G&S songs by heart.  One Christmas, my father, constructed a life-sized creche scene in our living room and dressed us all up for a Nativity tableaux.  Some of my father's great uncles had been tailors in Montreal where he grew up.  My father inherited the sewing gene.  He and my mother sewed many of our Halloween costumes.  He sewed/collected our costumes for the Nativity scene.  The neighbours were invited. As you can see by the looks on our faces, we children viewed the extravaganza with mixed feelings... It was over the top.

Guess Who Was Mary???

My mother would put us to bed every night by coming around to our bedrooms, one by one, and lie on our bed and sing us a "good night" song of our choosing, a nursery rhyme or Irish lullaby.  Sometimes she would be too busy and so she would send my father up to sing us a song. That was the best.  He would appear at our bedroom door, silhouetted by the hallway light, and give a rousing rendition of that '20's hit "Black Bottom" complete with lyrics and flapper dance moves.

Or, he would recite poetry by heart.  The Cremation of Sam McGee and Abdul Abulbul Amir were two of his most dramatic.  I thrilled at his description of the titanic clash between the Turkish Abdul and the Russian warrior, Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.  I will never forget how my dad sang the following lines with high dramatic flourish:

'….One day this bold Russian had shouldered his gun
And with his most cynical sneer,
Was looking for fun when he happened to run
Upon Abdulah Bul Bul Ameer.

"Young man" said Bul Bul "is existence so dull
That you're anxious to end your career?
For, infidel, know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdulah Bul Bul Ameer."

"So take your last look upon sunshine and brook
Send your regrets to the Czar;
By which I imply you are going to die,
Mr. Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."...

The only problem with my dad "putting us to sleep" was that we were so energized by his dramatics...we would lie awake for hours reliving the plights of Sam McGee and Ivan Skavinsky Skavar! No wonder I've been a Russophile all my life!

My dad wasn't perfect, in fact he came complete with human flaws and his very own demons.  But he taught us by example, over the 100 years of his life, the root values of loyalty and unconditional love.

So, today, fifty years later, as we celebrate father's day 2019 I remember the good times with my own father and I wish Happy Father's Day to all those fathers out there....with the important reminder/ have absolutely NO idea how important you are in the life of your child.

1 comment:

greencrow said...

It was hilarious in a way. After I sent a copy of this post to my family in a Father's Day e-mail, my older sister wrote to correct some of the "historical" points in paragraph three. She's a professional archivist, and so I could hardly challenge her "authority" on the matter. As a result, I have edited paragraph three to reflect her concerns.

Nice to have an archivist in the family!