My dad was a transport driver and a family man. He was born January 26, 1958. I remember my grandmother telling me that my grandfather dropped her off at the hospital on his way to work the day she went into labour and picked her up after work when she was ready to leave. At least, I think that’s how the story went.
They didn’t have much while he was growing up. My grandmother talked of cloth diapers and plastic pants, which I heard more of when I made the decision to cloth diaper my own son, which would not involve plastic pants. She talked about making cloths for him out of materials she already had in the house. She banned anyone from coming in the house in the mid-morning because that was when she filled a tub on their kitchen table to bathe her children and opening the door would cause the cold to come in and chill the kids.
Probably one of the funniest stories was that my grandmother had to attach my dad to the clothesline with a “leash” because he would follow my grandfather into the bush to work. I’m pretty sure that was my dad. It could’ve been my uncle.
I grew up with stories that showed my dad as fearless. As an older teen, or young adult, my dad started working where they loaded up transport trailers. One story featured him jumping behind the wheel of a truck to back it off of a chain that someone had run over, but feared trying to back off of again. That started his career as a truck driver.
Another heroic story I heard about my dad was a time he drove cross-country and was up in the B.C. mountains when a large van sped past him and then came across that van again and it was across the road. The driver had become nervous and stopped. It was an unsafe spot he had stopped and so my dad jumped into the driver seat of the van and moved it to the side of the road where it would be safer.
Probably my favourite story was the day of my birth. My dad used to drive with another driver and they would switch off driving and sleeping. He was in Cochrane and my mom was already at the hospital in North Bay. My mom was positive that she was in labour and my dad called and she told him as much. My dad jumped into the truck and shifted it into gear that he nearly threw his driving partner out of the bed. He drove to the end of the driveway of our home and jumped out, leaving his driving partner to drive the last little bit. He shower, changed, packed and got into the car and drove to the hospital in North Bay. I’m told that he did this in 3.5 hours. Following this, after I was born, he walked out of the delivery room crying, scaring everyone until finally saying “She’s so beautiful!”
My dad was away driving truck often while I was growing up but I remember the little things. Helping me in the garden for the annual fall fair, even using the end of it to be a practice area for long jump at track and field time. Playing soccer with me during the parents vs. kids game at the end of the summer season. Skating with him. Him rushing to rinks to watch my figure skating competitions. Driving his truck down small streets to go to a skating boutique to pick up skating dresses for me. Teaching me how to drive in our driveway when I was 12. He even took me to see The Lion King on stage when I was kid while my mom was in the hospital for surgery. That was my second time going to the theatre, the first time all three of us went to see Oliver Twist.
One Christmas, my dad took me to get my mom Christmas presents and we saw this discount bin with computer games. We both found a game we wanted so my dad bought them both, we wrapped them and then agreed to act surprised Christmas morning that we had gotten the other the game they wanted.
Saturdays were a family shopping day. The three of us would get into the vehicle and go for a drive where we could go shopping and get fast food.
We would also go on vacations to Florida and once to Tennessee or to the east coast, and that was just with me in tow. We often went to theme parks while on these vacations. He hated rollercoasters, so he would wait with our stuff while my mom and I went on the crazy rides.
I should probably explain the title a little more. Every year in honour of my dad’s birthday. My mom and I will have Pepsi and a Jersey Milk Bar. I can’t remember when the tradition started, but its something we just do now. I wanted to share these stories as they are some of my favourite ones as today would’ve been his birthday. So Happy 61st Birthday, Dad.
This is the third time I’ve written this post. I’m much happier with this version. It’s better to focus on the good, which was his life and not the bad that came with his passing. It took a long time to get to that point. The saying goes that “time heals all wounds.” Having a healed wound doesn’t mean that all traces of the wound is gone. Some wounds leave scars that stay forever, so while you are healing you are learning how live with the scars. So, instead of looking at the scars and remembering the bad, remember the good.
Until next time.