I am awake, I am alive and this morning I am smiling because even after all this time, it is still SO EASY to remember …
I think my earliest memory is of “doing his hair”. I would be all of 5 or 6 in this memory, climbing all over him and all over his HUGE lazy boy chair, parting his hair here, small pony tail for accent there. Even then he didn’t have much hair, but he had enough to feed my little girl imagination. This memory always makes me smile, not because of the activity, but of the patience and love he showed during those times. He never had something else to do. He didn’t care if I did and re-did his hair a hundred times. He was available as my customer until I was done imagining I was a hair dresser, and I loved and love him for that.
I remember the million times he snuck up on Mom to hug her, kiss her, or squeeze the daylights out of her. I remember the way she smiled when he did even if she feigned that she didn’t appreciate the attention. She loved him for it and he loved her and I love him for being that kinda man.
I remember the minutes spent waiting in that lazy boy chair. Soon he and Mom would be going out on one of their rare date nights. She was in the bedroom getting ready. He was in his chair waiting for his love and I was sitting patiently at his feet. Sure, I wanted to see what she was wearing. Sure, I wanted to see how she did her hair but more, I wanted to see his face when she appeared, the face of a man who is gazing at the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. And he smiled that smile, every single time.
I remember the Barbie closet – how the entire basement of our big, ole house was Dad’s workshop where he created captain’s beds and things for Mom. He would let me play in there, pretending I was creating like he did. On this day, I was attempting to cut a 2×4 in two. I put the piece of wood in the clamp like he had taught me and asked for one of his hand saws. He smiled as he passed me the one that would work and I got to cutting. He never interrupted. Never pointed out I was doing anything wrong. But as I grew tired, he asked if he could help. I explained that my Barbie needed a closet and he smiled and said he could make that happen. I watched as plywood became walls and doors. He whittled a little rod to put inside and even drew a design on the door to make it “pretty”. That was my Dad.
So many amazing memories but the bears has to be my favourite of them all. You see, it wasn’t a special day, not Valentine’s or Mother’s Day or even her birthday. He was retired. She was still working. We were in school and all of us arrived back home around the same time at the end of each day. On this particular day, we walked inside and saw them simultaneously. The brown teddy bears sitting on her record player, in plain sight. A bigger bear with its arms wrapped around a smaller bear, with a sign that said “I love you” – a surprise gift from Dad to Mom “just because”. Mom loved them but I stood there trying to figure out how. You see, I was older now and I knew that Dad only kept $20 of every pay cheque, handing the rest to Mom to pay the bills and run the house. His money bought a pop for a special treat or a package of gum randomly but he had bought the bears. Even with so little he had saved up to spend it on her ….
Today is my father’s birthday and even though it has been 39 years since I got to say those words to his face, I remember how much he smiled when I did so … Happy birthday Daddy. I love you and I miss you, even after all this time but now Daddy, your little girl dances around the house like you did. Now I hug the stuffin outta people every chance I get just like you did time and time again and Daddy, now I enjoy every single day, just as you taught me.
Thank you for listening my friend. I enjoyed sharing my Dad with you and please take from this a lesson – realize you matter to someone and will, probably long after you are gone.
I love you! HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
In memory of Leo Ernest Boucher
June 11, 1913 – July 6, 1981