Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remembering Dad... "Swinging on a Star"

Since I posted my first blog here about the loss of my Dad, lots of kind words and condolences have come in from friends and family.  

In particular, my cousins have sent me their memories of Dad; memories of an entirely different person… the person I’d forgotten.  They remember what a great character he was and how wonderful Mum and Dad were together when we were kids - always laughing and cuddling.  

They remember the summer vacations spent at our house in Portsmouth and speak about the gargantuan meals my Dad made for everyone.  Oh yes, and the enormous mess he always left behind after. I can't imagine Mum was too thrilled about that!    

My Dad taught me to cook; that's something I’ll always be grateful for.  Dad never did anything by halves.  His baking sessions were legendary.  I recall the baking days when all the kitchen surfaces were filled with mouthwatering goodies: mmmmm.... those chocolate eclairs were amazing. And the bread rolls fresh from the oven. Oh, and the pies too; I've never been able to recreate his custard tarts. 

One fantastic memory I have from my childhood was the Christmas menu he would pin up on the kitchen door every year.  He would list all the sumptuous meals we would be enjoying throughout the holiday season.  Our mouths would water reading what delicious feast was coming up next.    

My cousin Tony recalls an incredibly kind and generous man… and it made me reflect on that… and I remember an occasion that he came home without his coat.  He’d given it to a homeless man who he figured needed it more than he.  The fact that he was probably “three sheets to the wind” at the time is beside the point, but still it came from the heart.  Of course the day he came home with a stray dog on piece of string was not something Mum was too happy about...

My painting of Dad... on skates.

My brother Mike gave Dad a great send off the day before his 82nd birthday… it was something he would have appreciated.  Nothing religious; Dad wasn't into religion.  But they said goodbye to him to the sounds of Nat King Cole’s  “When I Fall in Love” and Frank Sinatra singing “Would You Like to Swing on a Star”.  

Dad was always a dreamer... and was forever wishing for the day when things would be better... the day his horse would finally come in... the day when he would be "Swinging on a Star". 

I sang a couple of songs for him that evening and raised a glass or two and tried to remember all the good things.

Dear Pussy Wilks...

That's how I would always start off my letters to Mum.  I have absolutely no idea where the nickname came from... Mum used to call me Puss (I know, kind of embarrassing really).  And she was always Pussy Wilks to us kids.  I think it may have been a stuffed puppet or cartoon character from from some ancient British TV show.  I tried googling it.  But when I saw what came up - well, you can just imagine - I figured I would never find the true origin.

But I digress... Hey, isn't that what blogs that record someone's rambling thoughts are all about?

After I lost Mum it took me a long while to stop thinking "ooh... I must tell Mum!" whenever something significant or, more often than not, something not so significant, happened in my life.

One very insignificant thing happened just now that she would have loved.  I took Zoe for a lunchtime walk. We usually head for the beach or the nearest park for a good run, but as Jim isn't feeling so great today I said I'd walk her around the block.  There's the tiniest little park at the end of our road with lots of wonderful smells, and then we continued around onto the main drag here in Tsawwassen. When we reached Pets 'N Us right there on 56th Street, Zoe starting getting all excited.  She loves that store... and she is literally like a kid in a candy store!

"No, Zoe... I don't have any money. We're not going in today!"

But she sat and held her ground and just wouldn't budge.  I got some nasty looks as I started to try and drag her little butt right on past.  And I mean literally dragging her along the sidewalk... there was no way she was moving.  I ended up having to pick her up to get her to the end of the street.  I'm just glad she's not an 80lb Rottweiler!

sensuality... celebrating when life feels good

I've been going through the notes I've made on Facebook and came across one I wrote just over two years ago.  It was strange reading it again and having the feelings I felt that day come flooding back.  It was why I originally wrote it so it's worth repeating here I think... 

From September 29th, 2008.

All my senses seem heightened today... it feels like I've been plugged in to a charger, getting all fired up and ready to go.

Before my eyes even opened this morning I could feel it... I slowly stretched my body and gradually became awake and I could sense it was going to be a feel good day.

Everything seems to have an extra edge... like the morning sun streaming in through my bedroom window is extra golden, the crisp fall air as I walked along the beach and the salty smell of the seaweed reaches deep within... and I feel intense joy just watching my dog run and play in the sand. The sight of the sparkling North Shore mountains spread out before me is absolutely breathtaking. Yes, I'm so in love with this beautiful blue Vancouver day.

Even lunch was sheer perfection... a wonderful mix of tastes and textures... the delicate sweetness of roasted beets, the bite of the creamy goat cheese combined with crisp nutty pecans and the sharp citrus dressing on my salad was so incredibly sensuous. And the sultry sound of "Love is a Losing Game" over the speakers at the restaurant fit my mood exactly.

I don't know what else this day will bring... but I felt compelled to write it down for posterity... to preserve the mood, so one day I will look back and remember... life is good.


I'm incredibly proud of my grandson, Connor.

There he is... the kid on the far right.  He's just started soccer and I'm so happy. I love the game. I thought he'd never finally pick a sport, but I'm glad it ended up being soccer. I hope he sticks with it, because I think he has talent.

It's been fascinating watching him figure it all out since that first game in September.  Seeing him get to know the game and find out what he's actually supposed to do.  Watching the concentration as he plays, his enthusiasm when he goes for the ball and the big grin on his face when he comes off the field is a delight.  He's learning how the pass and think out the plays, and has made some great moves... his run up the left field yesterday was brilliant!  But that's not why I'm bursting with pride this weekend.

They actually won their game yesterday.  The team played really well together, including Connor.  But the coach picked one boy as the man of the match, a boy who'd never really shone before, but yesterday he finally seemed to get it and it was noticed.  I was watching Connor as Jonathan stood there in the middle of the group being praised by the coach.  Connor was beaming with delight and puffed up with pride himself as his teammate was being congratulated on a game well played.

But it was when I heard Connor start the cheer that the big lump came to my throat.  "Three cheers for Jonathan!! Hip hip..."  "HOORAY!!!"  It was fantastic... and so unexpected.

Sportsmanship at its best...