Home Sweet AnnaBelle

{July 27, 2010}   The Story of Him

When I was very small, my father was a very elusive figure to me. He worked a lot, and drank a fair bit, so my time with him as HIM was fairly minimal. However, the time that I did have, when he was sober, and spending time with me, was magic.

My Dad spent his life overcoming challenges. He grew up  on a farm, just after the depression. It was a very different time. His sweetness shone through an exterior of courage. He learned love as he went, and expressed it in his own way, a way that may not be readily understood by all.

He was a musician. He grew up with an appreciation for music, on the farm, with my grandfather playing the accordian, my aunts and grandmother singing and playing the piano, my uncle playing guitar and banjo, my father playing guitar, both acoustic and bass, and singing as well. As a young man, he played for crowds, and when he was a little older, he joined a band. That band played venues for 20-odd years. Bars, legions and halls in the area where I grew up still know my Dad’s name.

With my mother, he had 5 children, all of us a little complicated. Of the 5 of us, I am the only one who plays an instrument (I play two, in fact) and the only one who sings. In terms of the rest, they all have their connections with him, too. He always marvelled at how different we all were.

He experienced the aftermath of the depression, in rural Alberta. He experienced loving my mother, his companion of 49 years, 48 of them married. He experienced almost losing a child when my eldest sister was in a near-fatal accident. He experienced my brother grappling with addiction, mental illness and several brushes with the criminal element. He experienced fatherhood, grandfatherhood, great-grandfatherhood. He experienced losing an uninsured home to a fire. He experienced a lifelong battle with the bottle. He experienced pride in his children. He experienced disappointment in his children. He experienced multiple bankruptcies. He always got back on the horse. He experienced crippling poverty, more than once. He nearly lost his wife, just over a year ago to colon cancer.

My bond with my father was unspoken. I was privileged to share with him his greatest love-music. We played together every Christmas, and a few years ago, I did a gig with him and two of his former bandmates at the local legion. I felt his pride for me. He wasn’t the perfect Dad when I was a kid, but he was my partner in crime as an adult. He was ever forgiving, even as I put him through the ringer, and he beamed with pride when he met my children the first time, and took pictures of them the whole time, the last time I ever saw him, on our trip to the zoo at the beginning of July.

On July 11, he left us. He did so on his own terms. He walked into the hospital with chest pains, on his own two feet. He told my mother that he would be leaving “feet first”.

They tried to resusitate him for 47 minutes. I didn’t make it in time. I met my family there, in the hallway, 5 minutes after he was pronounced dead.

Since then, I have been numb. But now, depression is setting in. Waves of grief are flooding in. The flowers are starting to die, petals littering my living room floor, and yet I cannot bear to throw them away because it means he’s really gone.

My guitar sits silent in the corner. I want to play tonight, but it hurts too much. It’s just too raw.

God. I’ll miss him.


et cetera