May 3-4, 2018
Remembering Dad- an Update.
Twelve years ago this evening, at Edenbank, a most beautiful residential complex nestled between Chilliwack and Cultus Lake, my dad and I pulled an " allnighter".
He was dying from congestive heart failure. I'd been at my parents' home for 3 days, and would be going back to the city the next day. It was sunny and warm. My mom, dad and I enjoyed what was to be my dad's last real meal. Fish and Chips from a local British shop.
Later that night, my mom took out her hearing aids so she could get a good night's sleep and I camped on the floor at the foot of the bed. Mom slept great! Dad and I not so much. His kidneys were failing and he was restless and up every 30 minutes. All through the night. It was rough. But now I feel that spending that time with him was such a gift. My sister T. arrived the next day to take over and at around 4:45, just as the sun was at that magic hour on May 4th, my birthday, I kissed my dad goodbye, and said " I love you Daddy". He lay in his bed and although he didn't open his eyes, he replied, "Ditto". A family joke that meant the world to me. He died the next day.
Saturday, September 5 would have been my father's 95th birthday.
Here's a look back on his remarkable life.
There's a special bond between fathers and daughters. My dad was my hero. It didn't matter where I was or what I was doing, if Dad was there, I knew I was safe.
I said goodbye to my father on my birthday in 2006, knowing I wouldn't see him alive again. I told him I loved him. He whispered back "I love you too". Dad died the next day at the age of 85. Sometimes it feels as though he's been gone forever.
Dad lead a remarkable life. He was born in 1920 in the warm Crimean peninsula of southern Russia. His mother had been widowed 3 months prior to his birth. The Russian Revolution of 1917 had unleashed chaos and lawlessness in villages all over the country and famine and disease followed. One of his older brothers died of starvation and his mother succumbed to typhus by the time dad was 5. No one wanted an extra mouth to feed so he was shuffled around from relative to relative. Eventually he and his remaining older brother were adopted by a childless couple and in 1930 they immigrated to Canada.
|Dad's passport photo age 9 , bound for Canada.|
|First day of school in Canada|
Dad entered Grade 1 at the age of 10. There were no English as a Second Language courses, no support. It was sink or swim and boy, oh boy, did my dad ever learn to swim.
He was determined to learn English quickly, became a bit of a rebel as an adolescent and at age 17, hitchhiked from his home in Lethbridge to Rosthern Saskatchewan to attend a private college that he had heard from friends might be a good fit for him. His adoptive parents had not supported his decision to pursue higher education instead wanting Dad to remain on the family farm. For many reasons, it remained a strained relationship throughout Dad's life.
|On leave during WWII.|
In the early 1940s, Dad enlisted into the Canadian Army and was stationed in Lethbridge Alberta at Internment Camp #133 home to 20,000 German Prisoners of War. He worked in the Dental Corps and was also the camp's translator, having learned German as a child in Russia.
In later years we would love to hear dad tell stories about those years in the camp and his relationships with some of the POWs. Simply amazing.
The things that went on behind the wire....Read more about those days here
|Dad, front row, far right with other members of Dental Corps|
My parents were married in 1944 and when the war ended they headed for Vancouver and UBC where dad earned his teaching degree. To make ends meet, Dad sold men's shoes at Woodward's department store in downtown Vancouver. One day he had to fill in for someone in the ladies shoe department and as the story goes, after one shift declared "Never again! Those women don't buy anything! They just keep trying on more shoes!"
|UBC graduation 1951|
Mum and Dad finally settled in Chilliwack BC in 1953 with their 2 young daughters with one more,me, to arrive several years later.
|My parents on Granville St. Vancouver around 1945 . Photo taken by street photographer Foncie Pulice.|
|One of many family picnics at Crescent Beach. |
Dad the protector :)
Dad was a secondary school teacher for many years, then principal, and finally director of secondary education for the district (now referred to as assistant superintendent).
He retired in 1979.
Although Dad was busy with work and service organizations, he always had time for his family. One of my favourite memories is of him reading to me. He continued that with our children too. He loved his grandchildren and was always thrilled when my sisters and I plus our young kids would descend upon our parents' house and fill their home with laughter toys, and so many little boys!
|Dad reading to my son 30 years later.|
|Reading to me.|
Love the Don Draper/ Mad Men look.
|Jack's three daughters had 3 little boys in one year!|
|One of Dad's and my favourite things ever. Dad took me to see Muhammad Ali vs George Chuvallo when I was a kid. It was a spectacle beyond belief. We relived that evening a hundred times over the years.|
|Keeping cool at Mum and Dad's pool in Scottsdale AZ|
Dad, you were the glue that held our family together, and even now, after eight years it's still hard to believe you're gone. You were my rock, my hero and sometimes my 'partner in crime'.
I miss our talks about politics, world affairs and history. You were such a good and patient teacher.
Thanks Daddy-O. I love you.
Somewhere I hope you're saying with a wink, " Ditto, kid"
|My 21st birthday|
|Mum and Dad on their honeymoon in Banff 1944|
|University Women's Club ( Hycroft) Vancouver|
JFK Sept 5, 1920- May 5, 2006