Yesterday was a typical morning, got up got my breakfast and grabbed a cup of coffee. It was a beautiful morning and I usually sit in the living room to have some peace and quiet before my day begins. For some reason I was drawn to the staircase at the front of the house. I sat on the steps with my coffee and found myself gazing out the front window at the glorious sunshine. I caught sight of myself in the mirror attached to the old vanity I have sitting at the bottom of the staircase. It was then that I was hit with the memory. I grew up in Montreal, Quebec and my parents were separated when I was about eight years old. As time moved on both parents re-married and I found myself in Vancouver, BC with my mom and her new husband. My youngest brother and I flew back every year to Montreal to visit my father for two weeks. I always looked forward to seeing him. My childhood was not a happy one, it was dysfunctional to say the least. However, having said that I always knew how much I was loved by my parents. The divorce was a major thing in our lives and quite frankly the whole divorce took up way too much of our valuable time. Sitting on that stair yesterday morning brought back a memory of my father that I had long forgotten about. In the neighbourhood where my father lived, everyone had concrete stairs at the entrance way of their house. For some reason people chose to sit out on those stairs during the sunshine weather. We didn’t really sit out the back, we always sat on the stairs at the front of the house. Sometimes there would be rows of people on the stairs all sharing coffee, cigarettes and talking. Yes I grew up in a culture where we all smoked. I was smoking by the time I was 14 years old! Thankfully, I quit a long time ago. When I was a teenager visiting my dad, I enjoyed the weekends the most because he didn’t have to work. We would get up on those weekend mornings and the two of us would grab our coffee, head outside with our smokes, sit on those stairs and talk for hours. It was really the only time I really sat and talked to him during those visits, because it seemed like later in the day there would be chaos in the house, people in and out and other things to do. But those mornings of just the two of us, we talked about so many things. Memories of his childhood, memories of his days as young man, memories of me and my siblings as children, he often told me how much he loved me and missed me during those conversations and I was able to tell him the same as well as my hopes and dreams. After my father passed away and fast forward to my life with my children and husband, I had long forgotten those lazy mornings on the concrete steps. I realized yesterday how much I missed him and for a brief moment I caught my breath because it seemed like he was there with me on those steps, the ease in which the memories came flooding back to me as I remembered all of our conversations. I sat there smiling and then I had a little chat with him, told him how happy I am and how I hoped he was enjoying watching his grandchildren. I also told him how special he is to me and will always be in my heart and a part of my life.
Mom and dad in better times, sitting on the wooden porch in front of the old house!
About a month ago, my youngest son came home with an interim report card. It wasn’t bad, but there were a few things that the teacher mentioned that I felt was not like my son. I didn’t doubt the teacher but I suspected something was going on. I started to think that maybe he was having an issue with another student, bullying, teasing or something along that line. I asked him if there was anything wrong because obviously the teacher was concerned enough to let me know. He said “well there is one thing wrong but I’m not going to tell you.” At this point I was thinking the worse and trying to get information out of my son is like pulling teeth out of his head. I got very firm with him and told him he had to tell me what was wrong. Got me nowhere he simply looked at me and said “nope!” Then I tried begging – “please sweetie, you have to tell me.” He stared at me for a long time and then said “If I tell you, you will make me do something I don’t want to do.” Again, I’m thinking the worse but not sure what it possibly could be and I asked him again to tell me what was going on. “Well” he said, “sometimes when the teacher writes on the board, I can’t see the words.” “I need glasses and I don’t want to wear them.” I asked him how long this had been going on and he told me “quite a while.” Makes me wonder what else he doesn’t tell me! Off we went to get him glasses and we had to push him to wear them to school, after all he’s not the only boy wearing glasses in that class. Not long after we got the glasses, the family went to a Junior A hockey game. My son wore his glasses and was smiling the whole time, “mom I can actually see the puck go into the net at the other end.” Small miracles and one battle down- how many more to go?
I decided to dedicate this post to my father. I never really talk about my father because some of the memories surrounding him are hurtful. My father died of a heart attack when I was 18 years old. To say I miss him is an understatement, unfortunately, I have spent most of my life missing him. Today I was at a memorial service for a young girl who passed away this past weekend. As I watched her parents I wondered to myself “how do you say goodbye to your child?” As happens quite often in times of death, we reminisce about our own lives or people we have lost. My father crossed my mind today.
My parents were divorced when I was eight years old and I can still remember the day he walked out the door, I was devastated. I absolutely adored my father and I couldn’t understand why he was leaving. As I grew up I came to understand that my father had committed a cardinal sin, he had an affair with another woman. My mother found out about this affair and my father broke up with the other woman and was determined to make it right with his family. He couldn’t do it; he once told me that he loved this other woman so much and he couldn’t pretend at home anymore. He started to see the other woman again and my mother gave him a choice – “me, the children or the door,” he chose the door. My adoration for my father was replaced with utter confusion. I still adored him and loved him very much, but everyone around me was furious with my father and it seemed like not one person liked him. To voice my love for him felt wrong to me because it meant hurting my mother, so I remained silent. Finally after much confusion my father was granted visiting rights He could come and pick up my younger brother and I every Saturday from 8:00 am and we had to be home by 8:00 pm . Not 8:10 pm, 8:30 pm or Sunday, every Saturday from 8 – 8 and there were no exceptions. Looking back I know this was not enough time and I felt that way as a child. There were two older siblings from the marriage and they could not be forced to visit him.
As I grew up life moved on and my mother, stepfather, younger brother and myself moved across the country. My brother and I flew east to see Dad once a year for two weeks. Not a lot of time when you think about it, but we always had a good visit. As we neared toward the end of our visits, a great sadness always came over my father. As we drove to the airport he would be very quiet in the car. We would get to the checkout and gate for us to leave and it was here that I realized how much my father loved us. When I hugged him to say goodbye it seemed like he held onto me forever and he would sob into my shoulder. Then through his tears he would say “I love you more than you will ever know.” I can remember thinking everyone is looking at us because this grown man is just sobbing his heart out – he didn’t care he wanted us to know how much he loved us. This is why my father came to mind today – he couldn’t bear to say goodbye to his children. Every time we left that airport to fly home for another year, a part of him died.
My father wanted to be happy but couldn’t because he was torn about his children. Right or wrong he was a father, a father who loved his children more than they knew. Now as I look at my own children I can only imagine his pain driving home from that airport and knowing he wouldn’t see his flesh and blood for another year and this daughter loves her father more than he ever knew!
Mom and dad before any of us!
I’m the little one holding my mother’s hand and staring at my Father.
First picture – my older brother and sister with my dad at Christmas – a year before I was born!