Thursday, September 07, 2006

Larger Than Life

My father would have been 102 years old today. He died in 1998, at age 94. His brother is still alive, and will turn 97 next New Year's Eve. Good genes, I guess. I hope some of those good genes made their way into the next generation.

It is hard to believe that my father has been gone for so long. I remember lots of things about him, but what most left an impression on me was that he had a tremendous sense of equilibrium. He took everything in stride, and faced whatever life presented, good or bad, with the same quiet determination. How was that possible, given all that he endured in his 94 years?

My father lived a life full of adversity and difficult physical labour. He lost his first wife, and one of the children they had together. The daughter who survived, my half-sister, is a wonderful woman, truly one in a million, and reminds me very much of my father.

After my father married my mother in1937, they lost three children before I came along in 1945. They were forced from their homes twice, and lost everything they had. In 1949, several years after World War II, they came to Canada and started all over again. My father was already 45 years old, my mother 35. I was 3 1/2 years old. My brother was born several months later.

How did my father cope with it all? Will I provide as good an example to my own son as my father did for me? I hope so, but I will have very, very big shoes to fill.

Happy birthday, Dad. I wish you were here to celebrate it with us all.


  1. I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent. Or child, for that matter. But when a parent is especially awe-inspiring, when they're shoes are especially large to fill, I can only guess that the void of their absence is enormous. Even when one is an adult.

    I'm sure the angels are throwing him a wonderful birthday party.

  2. Bellezza - I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent, either. (Well, maybe I can, but I try not to!) I come from a family of very good genes, too. Great-grandmother lived to 98, grandmother to 86, grandfather to 94. My parents are in their 70s and my dad and his wife live aboard their boat on Lake Union (Seattle). My mom and her husband drive across country (from Depoe Bay, OR) every year to visit us and on to other relatives in North Carolina. I hope I'm half as active as they all are when I hit my 70s!

  3. les, apparently we are sisters and never knew it. My parents are in their 70s and no one would ever know. Seriously, my mom looks like she's 50-something, and my dad still works every day. They DEFINE fit, as yours do.

    Me, I'm dragging my butt at the end of the day.

    If you, Atavist and I live as long as our parents we'll have a nice long time to blog together. ;)

  4. Wow... parents in their seventies. I'm 61 and my half-sister is 75! I feel like a fossil.

    May we all live long and prosper. Actually, isn't that out of Star trek or something?

  5. "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
    Abraham Lincoln

  6. Well said. Abe had a way with words.

    I like the Beatles' snippet from "The End" as well: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

  7. If you leave indullible, positive impressions on the minds of your children, you can be satisfied in knowing you do much more than the vast majority of today's sperm-donor "fathers".

  8. Wow, what a fun bunch of comments.

    Atavist, there were good genes in my family (on Dad's side - Mom's side is a mess) but my dad died of the latent effects of a head injury, so good genes don't always do the trick. He was an awesome, upbeat, inspiring dad. I'll never stop missing him and it's hard to believe he's been gone for 16 years. I loved your post.

    Love the quotes, too. My son used Abe Lincoln as one of his "inspiring people" in a speech, this week. One of the judges said, "You don't mention Lincoln as a hero when you're in the South. Use Jefferson Davis, instead." We're still trying to figure out whether or not he was serious. :)

  9. Thankss Bookfool, I appreciate the link and it's nice to 'see' you again!