Happy Father’s Day, from this Dad to all the other Dads! It’s our day today, and we have Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane Washington to thank. She’s usually credited for originating Father’s Day after listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day in 1909 and thinking Dad should have a day too! Thank you, Sonora!
My sisters and I lost our Dad back in 1983, and what I’d give to have just one more day with him today. We’d talk, have a coffee, go for a walk, and have a game of catch. And one more time I could smell the aroma of his pipe tobacco. Little things mean a lot.
Thinking back, we weren’t a family that verbalized “I love you.” I like to think we communicated that love through actions rather than words. Both Mom and Dad would do anything for us kids, even through the trying times. (read, teenage years!) Dad was very big on manners and sportsmanship, both things that were instilled in us early on. I’ve written about him teaching about being gracious not only in victory but also defeat. That was an early lesson going back to a Sports Day in Elementary school in the 50s.
Mom had a wonderful sense of humour, while Dad was truly the master of the “Dad Joke.” Puns were his favourite, the real groaners that only Dads can tell. He loved British comedies that would pop up on the tube. All the old Thames Productions like On the Buses, Benny Hill, the Carry On series, etc. You’d know when they were on, as his laughter would rock the walls of the house. Corny, yes but for him, the cornier the better.
My Dad wasn’t perfect, but he tried his best for us kids. He was always there at any event we were involved in. For me, it was baseball games and soccer games. He would arrive a little late at the baseball games because of his work schedule, but he was always there at the soccer games, on the sidelines, smoking his pipe, most days in the pouring rain. And we would play “catch” out in the back alley. As a kid, I could throw for hours, but later in life, I realized as the body gets older it’s hard to keep up with the energy of kids. More times than not our game of catch would come to an end because “Ooh, I’ve had enough, the old arm can’t take much more” excuse. I used that same line later in life with our two boys. I guess the baseball doesn’t fall far from the dugout!
Dad was a lot like his Dad, they were men of few words. They didn’t say much, but you could read what they were thinking by the look in their eyes. It was dubbed “The Cox Stare,” and apparently I inherited it, and unknowingly have put it to use over the years!
We didn’t live an affluent life, but it was good and Dad had a steady job with the B.C. Telephone Company, now Telus. He would get into a suit and tie and trudge off to the bus that took him downtown every day at 8 and home again by 6. In the summer months, I’d jump on the number 7 Dunbar bus and head to downtown Vancouver and have lunch with Dad. We’d either meet outside his office building on Seymour St. or in the Sporting Goods department on the 2nd floor of the Hudson’s Bay department store. We’d look at all the sports gear that we never bought. “One of these days” was what I would hear if I was admiring a new ball, glove, or bat, a gentle way of saying it wasn’t going to happen! One of the most memorable childhood birthday presents I ever got back then was from Dad. It was a brand new baseball, it came in a box, and he gave it to me while we were camping on my birthday one year.
After a quick tour of the sporting goods department, we’d head to the 6th-floor cafeteria, the Seymour Buffet, for a cheese and lettuce sandwich, on white bread, no mayonnaise! A glass of milk, and oh a couple of bread and butter pickles, please.
I don’t know what we talked about during those lunches. I was young, probably 10 or 11 years old, so my days weren’t exactly filled with exciting news, but I’m sure I shared some stories. Then it was time for him to get back to work, and I’d catch the bus home. Those were the days when you didn’t worry about kids jumping on a bus and going to downtown Vancouver because really, there was very little to worry about!
Over the years, he passed up many promotions at work because it would mean uprooting the family and traveling to another city. That was something many families did and have done for years, but Dad thought it was important that we kids grew up with our friends in our own neighbourhood, something I’ve been thankful for.
In the final years of his life, Dad really disliked his job and was just hanging in there for retirement, something he never got to do. He passed away following a massive heart attack at the age of 63. Two years short of his retirement goal. My sisters and I miss him very much, and it really hits home on this very special day set aside to honour Dads.
So, if your Dad is still with you, make sure you take him out for a beer or a coffee today. He doesn’t need any fancy expensive gifts, just tell him “thanks” for all he’s done for you over the years. He’ll like that. Even if he isn’t perfect, believe me, he tried his best.
Happy Father’s Day Dad.
Till next week...
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2