He would have loved this, my dad. This new, slow, rural life. Time and space to putter. Air to breathe. Wood to chop and land to hoe. This is the life my smart, educated, hardworking teacher-dad would have loved.
I'm living it for me, not him, but I can feel his energy, feel his approving smile and sweaty forehead. I can feel in me the Joy and connection he would have felt, the freedom he longed for. And I can feel his pride at the man I've become.
He was a living contradiction, a man torn between who he wanted to be and who he believed he was. Like a magnet turned the wrong way, he would attract people with his charisma and energy even while his social phobia really wanted to push them away. A man of great strength of character and determination, he could never overcome the addictions that ruled his dark side. And for all the deep powerful love and devotion he felt for his family, his grandchildren, and his loyal lifelong friends, he could never find that same love for and faith in himself.
One big reason for our move back to Canada was to be with him in his last years. To honour the strong bond he had with our boys -especially Galen, who was old enough to understand the deep love and unwavering commitment of his "Far-far." Through the struggles we faced with his drinking, I came to better understand and accept his unique love for me, and the character we share. I am fully aware and appreciative of the parts of his spirit that shine through me, and equally aware and cautious of the parts I choose not to perpetuate.
The post I wrote two days ago about giving more to our mothers is a lesson I learned through him. In his final, darkest years, we gave him the gift of family, of being close, of staying close through his struggles. His love and connection to us was a source of strength and Joy that I pray will be among my final memories and gifts from my own family when my time comes to move on. We gave back to him when he needed us most, and in that process came to understand all he gave to me. This closure is what lets him live on in our life and on our land - in the cold northern winds, in the song of the river and my corny country songs, in the sweet drips of the maple trees.
We kept his ashes in a cardboard box for 2 years, intending each month to plant a fruit tree along the sidewalk for the schoolkids to enjoy. And it kept not happening. Then on our first weekend in this new house, with my brother here, it all made sense. Although he always said he wanted just to left in a compost heap, a busy Vancouver sidewalk wasn't the right place. He was meant to rest here, nurturing the quince tree we chose to plant to celebrate our arrival Home.
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