Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a bittersweet day for me, and I’m sure for all of you who have lost your father. I’m blessed to have a healthy, happy son like Beckett, but as many of you know my father passed away 15 years and today is one of those days I miss his presence. I don’t look at is a negative, just a sad reality, but when I walked into Beckett’s room this morning at 6:40 to get him up,his smile and laugh filled much of the void in my heart.

We ate breakfast, went for a walk and played trucks in the backyard. Pretty much the perfect morning. On our walk I told Beckett some stories about his grandfather, and while he is too young to understand all the words, it was nice to share a laugh with my son while being reminded of my father.

Whatever you do today, or whoever you share it with, I hope you have a great day.

As I walked with my son this morning, I thought about the ten most important lessons I learned from my father. I shared these on the 10th anniversary of his passing and thought I’d share again today.

SHOW YOUR WIFE YOU LOVE HER EVERYDAY
 

Three months after dad passed, I
walked into the house and found my mom sitting in the back entrance
staring at an ice scraper. I asked her what was wrong, and she started
to laugh/cry. Every winter morning when he left for work, Dad would
scrape the ice/frost off of her car and start it for her. Every morning
she said. She couldn’t believe how much a small thing meant to her and
how much those little things mean in a relationship/friendship.
 
Big gifts are great, but the little
things are what keep a relationship moving. Remember to show your loved
ones how special they are. Guys, I urge you to show your children the
proper way to treat a lady. I can say with pride that my brother has
learned those lessons well and is passing on the same lessons to his
kids. My sister must have been watching too, because she chose a man who
loves and cares for her and their kids as well. My father would be very
proud of Colin and Eric in the men/fathers they have become. 

MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE



You may have heard about Abraham
Maslow, the famous psychologist, he created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Basically it meant that people satisfy their needs at different levels.
At the bottom level is the need for food and shelter. To further
satisfy your needs you need to love, respect and so on. At the very top
of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was something he called
Self-Actualization. 
 
According to Maslow only a fraction
of people in the world ever reach this level. I think he said it was
only 2% of the population.
 
My brother and mother told me a story that leads me to believe Dad reached that level. 
 
Just before my father passed away, he
and Mom were driving home one evening and he turned to her and said,
“Pearl I never would have dreamed I would have so much in life: A loving
and wonderful wife, terrific children, grand-children, and a huge farm.
Life has been incredibly good for me,” he explained.
 
There is no doubt in my mind that
he meant every word of what he said and that he truly reached a level of
acceptance in life, or as Maslow would say — Dad reached
Self-Actualization.
 
My dad made sure my mom always drove
the new car, and he always put himself last. In the mid 80s when times
were tough he went four years without a new pair of jeans. He didn’t
care, my mom would stitch up the knees, but he made sure we could play
hockey and that she was always well dressed. He put others needs before
his and by doing so he felt happier.
 
He was a selfless man.

USE THE WHITE GATE



Dad wasn’t perfect which made him
human, but he rarely held a grudge. When I was 15 I started to work a
lot with Dad in the barnyard, and over the years we had some vocal
sparring matches. He was a mechanical guy and could fix all the
machinery, while I was more in tune with the animals. Needless to say we
didn’t always see eye-to-eye in the barnyard.
 
He had no patience with the cattle,
and I had even less when it came to fixing tractors so you can imagine
how some days went. We never physically hit each other, but often our
language was less than respectful. Don’t get me wrong, we had lots of
laughs (more on that later) but there were days when we both reached our
boiling point.
 
The strange part was at the end of
every work day, we had to make the long walk from the barnyard to the
house. There is a long alley way with fences on both sides from the barn
down towards the house, and at the end of lane there is a small white
gate. As we would walk towards the house he’d pipe up, “Son, I shouldn’t
speak to you that way,” or I’d start with, “Dad I shouldn’t talk to you
like that…,” we’d look at each other, sometimes just shrug our
shoulders and say nothing or more often we’d let out a laugh.
 
Dad started this “tradition” by
explaining to me that what happened on the barnyard side of the gate
stayed on that side of the gate. Once we walked through the gate and
into the yard, we wouldn’t discuss it. And rarely, if ever, did we. I
still struggle at times understanding how we were able to just inhale,
take a deep breath and move on. But to this day, when I walk through
that gate I’m always reminded to let things go, and don’t carry an
argument to a place it doesn’t belong.
 
If you and your Dad are struggling or
arguing, find the strength to let it go. It won’t be easy, but if both
of you agree to move on from it you might be surprised at how good you
feel. If you are a son or daughter, remember that your Dad is much older
and set in his ways. Be the bigger person and break down the wall.
Carrying resentment in life will only lead to futility and unhappiness.
 
Here is a passage from a book I just finished reading, God Never Blinks, I think it sums up resentment quite well. This quote was from an unnamed minister.
 
“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray
for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you
will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to
them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their
happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for
them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t believe it, go ahead
and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you
have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that
where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now
feel compassionate and understanding and love.”
 
You don’t have to be religious to try it. What is the worst that can happen? It might work?

DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN



I could write for days recalling
the conversations and shenanigans Dad provided for us, whether it was at
the dinner table, outside, in the car or even in Church. Dad was always
a character at the table, and he never took himself too serious; Hell,
he let us call him Wild Willy.
 
Dad wasn’t Catholic, but Mom was so we
went to church as a family. Church represented family time for me,
rather than the preachy stigma some people have about it. I remember
sitting in the pew at St. Vital church in Beaumont on many Sundays. When
I was about eleven I was daydreaming in the pew, not really listening
to what the priest was saying. As I stood up for one of the readings,
Dad is beside me and when I’m upright he subtly gives me an elbow poke
to the ribs. This starts an elbow sparring match that went on, secretly
we thought, for a good ten minutes. Back and forth we’d try to give each
other a shot.
 
Finally Mom looks over at us, “Bill
stop it,” she whispers/growls. Like any eleven year old, I start
giggling and he then gives me one last blow with a bit of extra sauce on
it. In the car on the way home, Mom looks at Dad and says, “I don’t
need four kids in church you know.” Dad looks at her with a mischievous
grin and states, “He started it.” Well, even Mom couldn’t contain
herself and she starts laughing. Dad had an unbelievable ability to have
fun, even when some thought it would be frowned upon.
 
Don’t get me wrong, Dad took church
very seriously most days. He got baptized in his 40s and actively
participated in church, but he never lost his fun ways, even in church.

SUPPORT YOUR KIDS



Dad never showered us with gifts;
instead he gave us his time. He was at every hockey game my brother and I
played up until my brother left for the WHL. And even then, he and Mom
would make many trips to watch him play. Dad loved watching his kids. He
went to many of my sisters basketball, volleyball and rugby games.
 
He rarely gave advice, unless you
asked for it, and then he could recall every play. When I got older I
realized how much it went to me for him to be there. It is almost a
subconscious support. When we are kids we look in the stands to see if
our parents are there, but in our teens not so much. But even as a teen,
it was comforting walking out of the dressing room and seeing him
standing there waiting to drive me home.
 
Maybe it was the car ride home that
was so great. We spent many nights listening to the legend, John Short,
talking sports on the radio. We’d listen and then Dad and I would
comment on what was said, or many times we would just listen.
 
One of the few times that I really
missed my father was the night I drove home after finishing my first
show on the radio. I had to pull over on the side of the road because
tears blinded my eyes. How I wished he could have heard me that night,
and even though I know he would have been really proud, I longed to hear
what he thought.
 
Eight years later I still catch myself
driving home from my show wondering what he’d say. Sometimes I close my
eyes and remember the dark nights, driving back to the farm and
listening to his views on sports and it warms my heart.
 
Remember to support your children.
Those memories of my father make his absence much easier. I can close my
eyes and hear his voice and almost every time it makes me smile now
rather than cry. Leave your family with lots of memories and you will
live in their hearts forever.

DON’T USE THE PAST AS A CRUTCH
 

My Dad and his father never had a
real close relationship. It was a different era, and my grandfather was a
pretty stern man. He loved his kids, but he didn’t show it all the
time. I never met my grandfather, he passed away when my Dad was 24, and
one day in the barn, when we were laughing not battling, I asked him why it
was so important for us to get along.
 
He told me he enjoyed spending time
with his son no matter what we did, and because he and his father were
never able to share a laugh together that we had to make up for it. It
was one of the rare times he ever gave me any “fatherly advice”. He said
he never wanted to make the same mistake with his kids. He wanted us to
be able to laugh with him, and even at him, if it was in good fun.
 
He said that we don’t always have to
be a product of our environment. Just because he was raised without a
close connection to his dad, didn’t mean he had to be the same with his
boys. Too often many of us want to use that reasoning in our lives.
While it is hard work to break those cycles, I am forever grateful that
my Dad felt it necessary that he would. Life can be shorter than you
expect, don’t let your pride, or fear, get in the way of making a move,
or saying words, that show you care.

NEVER FORGET YOUR INNER CHILD



In this fast-paced world we live
in now, we rarely stop to smell the roses. I know I’m guilty of it all
the time and I try to remind myself to enjoy life and not worry how
others will look at you. Dad seemed to live by that.
 
I remember a wedding our family went
to when I was about 21. There were little bubble bottles on every table
and the bride and groom wanted people to blow bubbles on them. Well, it
was all kids out on the floor except my dad. He was in the middle of it,
smiling with the kids, laughing with them and blowing his bubbles. He
was a fun loving guy. My Mom reminded me of that story once and said as
she sat watching him she fell in love with him even more. He didn’t do
it to be funny or get attention; he did it because he enjoyed it. He was
so great at having fun and embracing the child within. Many of us guys
think we are too cool or too mature to do certain things, but I think we
might be missing out on more than we know. And if it makes the woman in
your life fall more in love with you when you do it, then the benefits
are even more worthwhile.
 
Enjoy life.

SHARE WHO YOU ARE WITH YOUR KIDS



Whenever I hear an Elvis Presley song I immediately think of Dad.
 
Growing up in the 80s I was a big fan of heavy metal and rap. I know a strange mix, but that’s what I liked. Shout at the Devil,
by Motley Crue was one of my favourite tapes (yes we had tapes, no CDs)
and I used to listen to it on the way to my games to pump me up.
 
Dad never complained about the music,
in fact he started to like it. But he made a deal with me. He’d listen
to the Crue (seriously he called them the Crue a few times) if I’d
listen to some of his music. He introduced me to Elvis Presley. He had
the best of Elvis on tape, and I realized quickly why he was the King.
That boy could sing.
 
When Blue Suede Shoes would
come on in the truck, Dad would crank it up and we’d belt it out. I was
15 /16 at the time, and I’d never dare sing anywhere else, but in the
truck with Dad I’d sing along. In The Ghetto is still one of my
favourite songs to this day, and anytime I hear it or another Elvis tune
I can picture Dad in our 1982 blue Ford pickup belting it out.
 
At the time I thought it was cool that
Dad liked my music, but he also introduced me to things he liked. Buddy
Holly and the Big Bopper were some of his other favourites and, while
I’m not a music aficionado, I sure liked their beats and rhythm. 
 
Kids want to know what you liked, even
when they pretend they don’t. We all strive for that connection with
our parents, and once we reach adulthood it helps build that bond even
more. Even though Dad is gone it still allows me to feel close to him at
the most unexpected of times. Hearing a song on the radio by the King
or Buddy or BB and instantly it brings a smile to my face as I picture
him belting out a tune, or seat-dancing along to the beat.  
 
And when I hear one I still song it out loud, probably off key, but it is soothes my soul even when I’ve having a bad day.

PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONE’S FEELINGS
 

The hardest and most rewarding
thing in life is to love unconditionally. Parents seem to do it easier
with their children than with their spouse, but when you work at it and
commit to being loyal and supportive to your spouse it makes your life
much happier. At least that’s what I learned from Dad.
 
I was around 23 or 24 one spring
afternoon when I pulled into the yard at the farm. I walked into the
house, but no one was inside. Dad’s truck was in front of the garage so I
knew he was must be in the barnyard. I quickly changed into my farm
clothes and walked up the lane to the barn. I yelled out his name and he
replied, “In the back corral.”
 
I continued up the side of the barn
around to the corral and there was Dad kneeling over Sinroy. Sinroy was
born on the farm 22 years earlier. He was a red Arabian with a two-inch
wide white stripe that stretched from the top of his head to just above
his mouth. He was my Mom’s horse. He was born to Lady, a huge grey mare,
and while we had many horses growing up, Sinroy was Mom’s favourite.
 
She quit riding him regularly many
years earlier, but we kept him and rode him and Taco, a black mare, now
and then. I approached Dad and realized Sinroy was in rough shape. He
was 22 and he couldn’t get up.
 
Dad wasn’t a horse guy, but when he
looked at me the pain in his face was evident. We knew what we had to
do, and I went to the house to grab the gun. With one quick shot he was
gone, and we loaded Sinroy onto the front end loader and took him deep
to the far back quarter and buried him.
 
I asked Dad why he was so shaken up.
We’d had many animals die on the farm, and had to put a few out of their
misery, but Sinroy really bothered him. “Your mom loved that horse. I
don’t want her to know what we had to do. It will eat away at her and I
want her to remember him in a good light. We will tell her we found him
dead in the corral.”
 
I never recall my Dad telling a lie
before, but in this case he felt it was the right way to try and protect
her heart. It was an innocent fib, that didn’t change anything
meaningful; instead it allowed my Mom to think her trusty steed passed
on peacefully. Mom has a real soft spot for animals, and she can’t stand
to see them in pain. Dad knew this and he did make it much easier on
her.
 
It might sound strange that a memory
like that could have a positive impact on me. I’m sure there are better
examples, but you never saw his face. He said when my mom hurt, that he
hurt, and he always tried to soften her pain. (She never knew the story
until I sent her this earlier this morning). Made her laugh and cry.
 
That is true love in my books.
 
You can’t protect your loved ones from
never experiencing pain and suffering, but there are times when you
have to soften the blow so it feels more like a pinch than a full shot
to the gut.

MAKE SURE THEY KNOW YOU LOVED THEM



Every year when I sit down to
write this, I am so thankful that I had no regrets or doubts that Dad
loved me. I couldn’t tell you the last time he actually said the words,
but he didn’t have to; his actions always did.
 
My father passed away on a Friday. The
one thing I am most happy about is that two days before he died he
called me out of the blue. Dad and I didn’t talk on the phone very
often; we didn’t have to. I went to the farm almost every weekend and
normally he would call and ask me to pick up something for him on my way
home.
 
I remember his call that Wednesday
night like it was yesterday. He just called to see how I was doing in
school and how I was. We never had these types of talks on the phone. At
the end of the conversation he asked me about my dating life; something
he had never done before. He reminded me that family is the most
important thing you will ever find and that I should take a chance
sometime and put my heart on the line. Of course, I almost passed out
hearing this, since it was the first time we ever had discussed that
sort of thing.
 
After I hung up I remember thinking
“what the hell was that all about?” I didn’t think much of it until he
passed away two days later. That year my dad had “winterized” the farm
early. I believe he knew his time was coming, and before he was to go he
wanted to make sure I was doing okay.
 
That phone call has made his passing
so much easier for me, even now ten years later. He went out of his
comfort zone and wanted to make sure I was alright. I’m sure it was hard
for him, because we never did that, but I’m so thankful he was strong
enough to reach out to me that evening.
 
For many men, and women, it is hard to
show emotion. Don’t let your fears get in the way of telling those you
care about how important they are. You don’t want to live with regret if
something unexpected happens.

WRAP UP

Happy Father’s Day gentlemen.

I hope you have a great day spending time with your family, or maybe getting some alone time. Sons and daughters make sure you thank your dad for being there for you, and if your relationship is strained maybe today is the day you two can start to repair it.

I miss you Dad, but I had a great day with my son telling him stories about you. Your memory will live on in my heart.

  • Rambelaya

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t his annual article. My father passed away September 26th, 2012. He was only 53 and our family was in shock. I wasn’t on the web for a few days and I came to the Nation to catch up on Oilers talk and Gregor’s letter to his father was the first article I read.

    It was perfect timing. I sent it to my siblings and my mom. She is not a sports fan, but now we talk Oilers a bit. She looks forward to Gregor’s article because it is so close to the day my dad died. Last year she sent me the article actually…haha

    Jason, thanks for the Father’s Day reminder and I look forward to your annual letter in September.

  • Britts94

    gold.

    thank you jason.

    what i take away is the shared belief that we can be really good. we have the ability to improve.

    great men, imo, are measured in the way they love, honour and respect the women and children in their lives.

  • Britts94

    though i dont have these examples from my parents. it was a ’60s shotgun wedding and they pretty much hated each other. that certainly got in the way of parenting – never putting their kids, or each other, first.