I woke up to an overcast day. It’s a shame really, this is one day that I would have loved to see sunny and bright. Thoughts flow through my mind about my father-in-law, my father, my own husband. The memories: my father-in-law with his ever present pipe clenched between his teeth, rocking with my eldest son, puffing away on his pipe while he recited, “horsey, horsey, don’t you stop….” My own father playing cards at the kitchen table, slamming down his hand to win the game – we changed the name of Canasta to Ca-nasty just for him. Then my own husband …
I see him in my mind, at the school across the street from one of our earliest homes, the three kids in tow. Teaching the youngest to ride his bike, trying to prevent the eldest from jumping off a climber that was too high, all the while attempting to control our whirling dervish of a daughter. I picture him at our dining room table giving my eldest son and his first serious girlfriend the “talk” about the birds and the bees – unfortunately, animated speaker that he was, Kevin also used hand gestures. Funny, it was so funny. I remember how excited he was to take our daughter with him to the UK. Granted it was for a funeral and under sad circumstances, but he so wanted her to meet his family. Then there was the youngest son who watched and observed how the elder two fared trying to get around their father, he’d try to outsmart his old man – but it never worked. Kevin would always laugh saying, “What a rookie. He has no idea about most of the crap I did when I was a kid.”
Our kids, his pride and joy – they put us through the rigours of parenthood, the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain. As they got more independent and less receptive to his guidance and instruction (the kids might call this interference) he’d turn it up a notch. The conversations could be quite stimulating, and in our house you either stood up for yourself or got steamrollered. The kids learned to challenge assumptions and defend positions, how to debate and how to communicate. That’s the legacy of having Kevin for a husband and a father. Their father was not passive when it came to anything in life. Even as his health was failing, his mind was not. As he got frailer, he took on an oversight role. When anyone was doing anything Kevin would have to supervise; it slowed progress down immensely since he would chatter incessantly – a 20 minute job could take hours. Actually, that last statement applies to when Kevin was healthy as well. He simply loved to talk.
These were the types of thoughts that I woke with today, on Father’s Day. On this day last year he still was my Kevin, no idea that he had lung cancer. A year ago, the phone would be ringing and he would get that contented smile, knowing one of the kids was calling to chat. The food would be purchased and he’d be double checking to make sure I had everything for an incredible meal. Then he’d take his coffee and go sit out on the deck, I’d join him, and he would reflect on how great life was. That’s where I am headed now, to the deck, cup of tea in hand. I’ll have a little chat to no one in particular, perhaps with the statue of Venus, a Father’s Day from years past. I will try and count my blessings, and let love be the order of the day.