Death of a Dad

My Father
My father – about a week before his death – officiating at my cousin Shannon’s wedding

This past Tuesday (August 18), my father passed away suddenly at the age of 58.

The call came at six in the morning. Those calls are never good, I imagine. But it didn’t cross my mind.

J and I were on the road before eight, kenneling our puggle for the night and packing for a few days. My parents live in Kindersley and that’s about a two-hour drive.

I’m not an emotional guy. I expected numbness. So when the emotions came – in waves – I wasn’t really ready for it.

The funeral was on Saturday. It went well. The wake was excellent. Thanks to everyone!

—–

On behalf of my father’s family and friends, I’d like to share a few brief thoughts about his life.

But first, I would like to thank everyone for coming. Especially those who’ve travelled great distances to be here – thank-you. I know my father loved you all very much.

I also wish to give a special thanks to everyone in Kindersley and area who have supported my family – materially and morally – over this past week. This kindness is a testament to your essential decency and generosity.

At the entrance of the church there are photos of my father and testimonials from loved ones who couldn’t be here today. I encourage you to spend some time looking at these.

My father was a good man. In his time he was a son and brother, father and friend. A leader of men and a follower of Jesus. And he touched many lives. My father lived best when he loved others. And through his dedication to God he was able to share his love with the world. I know that he has helped many people through his work.

Like all of us he had his struggles. There were bad times in between the good. But in the end, there were more calm seas and sunny days than storms in my father’s life. It was a life well lived.

The last time I saw my father and my mother together, he spoke at length about the summer of 1967 – the year of Canada’s centennial and the Montreal Expo. He was sixteen and he was a crewman on the Sail Training Vessel Pathfinder. A paid gig. He spent the summer barefoot, shirtless, sun on his back, wind in his hair, as the Pathfinder plied the waters of the St. Lawrence. In Montreal, he wandered among the Expo pavilions as a VIP in his white uniform. The summer nights were filled with magic.

Unbeknownst to my father at the time, my mother was also at Expo ‘67 on a school trip from Nova Scotia. It was as if – even at this early time – my father’s heart was caught in the tide of my mother’s love, pulling him toward her.

That summer was the first time he would take the wheel, steer a vessel – and under his fingers, in his palms, he felt the taut pull of the wind, of the Sea of Life pulling him forward.

It would pull him across the years, through twenty-five years in the Navy, another dozen in the Ministry; it would pull him to his young Nova Scotian bride and around the world; eventually he rode the waves of life from Victoria to England, from Moosomin to Kindersley.

And this is how I will remember him: tanned and wind-swept, riding the Sea of Life, come hell or high water, grin across his face, a guitar in his lap.

Each of you here harbour your own special memory of your time with him. I ask you to consider these memories today and in the future. Memories are gifts from the great Sea of Life and you can board them and sail around in them anytime you like, regardless of if your life is swamped by storms or softened under sunny skies.

We love you dad.


22 August 2009
St. Mary’s Anglican Church
Kindersley, Saskatchewan

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