Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

A Wild Pidgey Appears

When my dad was young, he and his brothers would go hunting with my grandpa. My dad’s older brother, Bob, used to say that if he died, he would be reincarnated as a duck and then one day when his brothers were out hunting, they would take aim at a duck, but would miss and the duck would laugh at them. My Uncle Bob died in a boating accident when he was 21. And then one day my dad and his brothers were out hunting and they took aim at a duck and were sure they had the duck in their sights, but when they fired, they missed and the duck quacked and quacked in the duck-like way that sounds like a laugh. Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation, but I always loved that story.

My dad used to raise pigeons for racing and every time I see a pigeon – which is quite often where I live – I think of my dad. In Pokémon Go, the most common Pokémon seems to be Pidgey, the pigeon-like Pokémon. Sometimes when you throw a PokéBall at a Pidgey (which is how you catch a Pokémon) you miss and I would swear that the Pidgey is laughing at me.

Pokemon GO

By

I Have My Dad’s Cough

My Dad had a chronic cough, as far back as I can remember. To hear it, you would swear it was a smoker’s cough, though he never smoked a cigarette in his life1.

That sore throat I was complaining about decided to turn into a full on nasty cold late last week – I was all stuffed up and had a most disgusting phlegmy cough, which has now turned into a hard, dry cough that sounds exactly like my Dad’s used to. I don’t get sick all that often, but when I do, my phlegmy coughs generally turn into this cough and lasts a while and I find myself thinking “Am I going to have this cough forever, just like Dad did?” It also gets me to thinking – what is it, exactly, that I inherited that gives me that same cough as my Dad had? Is it something about the shape or physiology of my lungs? About the way my immune systems works? Did I just pick up his way of coughing as a behaviour?

It was four years ago today that my Dad took his last breath. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to hear that cough again.

I miss you, Daddy.

  1. I assume it was actually from working so much at the barn with the pigeons and the chickens and the various other birds and breathing in that barn air so much, but that’s just a theory. []

By

70

Racing pigeon

Isn’t this racing pigeon beautiful? You can tell it’s a racing pigeon because it has bands on its legs.

My dad would have been 70 years old today.

I think of all the stuff he’s missed in the past 3+ years since we lost him. My little nephew was just a tiny baby when my Dad died and now he’s getting ready to start school. My niece was only 7 – now she’s such a grown up 10 year old! He would have been so proud of the amazing people they are growing up to be.

My sister and I have both finished the Master’s degrees that we were starting just before he died. We both have big fancy new jobs. He would have been so proud of our respective accomplishments.

We Call Him Paddy

Another pretty racing pigeon, just like the kind my dad used to have.

My mom, my sister, and I have all gone on various trips, near and far, that he – not being much of a traveller himself – would have loved to have heard all about. My mom is enjoying her retirement and he should be here, enjoying it with her.

This is, by sheer coincidence, my 2600th blog posting. This is not be design – I just happened to notice it when I went to write this post. I think my dad would have liked that.

I miss you, Daddy.

Image Credits:

 

By

One of my favourite Dad stories

When my dad was young, he was in the Sea Cadets1. And when you got in trouble in Sea Cadets – which for my Dad was, apparently, quite frequently – they made you do chores. Now, my dad hated to do the dishes2, so when he was assigned to dish duty, he made a big show of playing with the bubbles and pretending to have lots of fun. “That’s it, Snow! You aren’t getting dish duty anymore!” Unlike dishes, he loved to peel potatoes. So when he got in trouble and was assigned to potato peeling duty, he made a big show of “Aww, man! Not peeling potatoes!!!”, and so henceforth whenever he got in trouble, it was off to peel potatoes that he went. Given that, as previously mentioned, he got in trouble a fair bit, when he got some time off3, he went into town and bought a potato peeler, because they only gave you a knife with which to peel the potatoes. A potato peeler is, of course, much easier on the hands and you lose less of the potato, so you have to peel fewer potatoes – and it takes much less time – when you use a peeler than when you use a knife. So when he was on potato peeling duty, he would take the bag of potatoes up on the ship’s deck, quickly peel all he needed to peel with the potato peeler that he had hidden in his pocket, but he’d put a bunch of the peeled ones in the bag with a few unpeeled one on top to make it look like he was only partway done. And then he would sit and relax in the sun and when his superior came by to check on him, he’d have a knife in his hand and would appear to be peeling the potatoes in the amount of time it should take if one were peeling potatoes with a knife.

Three years ago today, we lost my Dad. Today, I’m thinking of him telling that potato peeling story – which I heard many times during my life – and I’m smiling at his cleverness and how he liked to know that he was sticking it to The Man. I miss you, Daddy, and I think of you every single day, especially when I back into a parking spot4, put on my hockey gear5, or peel a potato.

  1. Or were they called Navy Cadets? []
  2. Clearly, I have inherited my loathing of doing dishes from my paternal DNA. []
  3. I think they called it “shore leave”, but I could be mistaken. []
  4. Which I *always* do. []
  5. And tie my skates really, really tight. []

By

Two Years

Two years ago yesterday my Dad went into brain surgery, which he didn’t survive. We wouldn’t know that he hadn’t survived for three long days, during which we sat at his bedside willing him to wake up. We didn’t know his brain had suffered too much damage during the surgery and could no longer do anything but the most basic functions to keep his body going, but even then only with the assistance of artificial life support and even with that life support, it was barely able to do that and his body started shutting down over those three days. He couldn’t hear us talking to him, he hadn’t had a thought since he’d gone into surgery, scared but hopeful that the massive tumour in his brain would be removed and he would be OK. He also hadn’t known the tumour was malignant melanoma, as on the scans that they did before the surgery, it looked decidedly like a benign meningioma, which would have meant that removing it would have made him feel better than ever. I’m generally not a believer that “ignorance is bliss”, preferring to face facts over being in the dark about things, but in this case I’m glad that the surgeon wasn’t able to tell what kind of cancer my dad had before the surgery. It would have done my dad no good to go into his surgery knowing that his cancer was incurable and that he would only have suffering, debilitation, and death ahead of him. Given that the surgery turned out to be non-survivable, I’m willing to accept that in this case, where knowledge of the stark realty would have offered no way to have done anything differently and only would have served to make my dad’s last weeks of life that much more depressing, ignorance was preferable.

Around this time of year, I can’t help but think of my dad’s death and everything that surrounded it – the diagnosis, the waiting for surgery, the surgery, sitting vigil by his bedside, the moment that he stopped breathing and then, shortly after, when his heart stopped beating, the funeral. But I don’t want his death to overshadow his life. My dad was a man who believed in living life to its fullest. He was larger than life. The life of the party. He loved his family and we loved him.

I think of the things that have happened in the past two years. I did a whole MBA. I moved into a new place with a boyfriend. And then we broke up. I got pet frogs – that I think my dad would have liked – and pet cats – that I think he wouldn’t have1. My nephew has grown from a wee baby to an energetic, hilarious little toddler. My niece has continued to blossom into an intelligent, creative, and hilarious little girl. My mom and I went to Ireland together, and we know he would have loved to hear all about our trip. So many things he never got to see. So much life he will never get to live.

Last night, his Toronto Maple Leafs played my Vancouver Canucks and for the first time in more than TEN years, the Leafs won. And I would have given anything to have gotten a phone call last night after the game for him to tease me about it.

I miss you always, Daddy.

  1. My dad liked birds, so he didn’t like cats. []

By

The Best Thing I Got

The best thing I got on my trip wasn’t even a Christmas present. It was something that my sister gave me when I first got here – my dad’s old French fry cutter.

My Dad's French Fry Cutter

My brother-in-common-law is renovating my mom’s basement and while they were clearing out the old stuff, my sister asked him to save this for me. Apparently, when they got it, it was so rusty that they didn’t think they could save it, but after a lot of hard work scrubbing off the rust, it was, in fact, salvageable. I’d actually been thinking about it just before I came here and I had been assuming that it would have been rusted beyond recognition and would have have been unceremoniously thrown out.

When she gave it to me, honestly, I nearly cried. Not just because I really wanted this French fry cutter, but because it showed that my sister knows me so well that she knew how much it meant to me.

This French fry cutter, which we think my dad got from a restaurant when it closed down, holds a lot of great memories of childhood for me. As you may or may not know, I love French fries. As you also may or may not know, my Dad made the best French fries in the entire world. He had this French fry cutter attached to his work bench in the basement – he’d skin and clean a potato, put it into the cutter, and bring down the handle, and it would slice the potato into the perfect size French fries.

Day 171

I have many a fond memory of the French fries my Dad would make1. At one point, he learned that the guy who ran the local chip wagon used peanut oil in his deep frier, so my dad got peanut oil and omg, those fries were delicious. Sometimes we’d have fries with grilled cheese sandwiches, where the grilled cheese sandwiches were made in the waffle iron. Sometimes we’d have French fry sandwiches, because there is nothing fries need more than to be stuffed between two slices of Wonder bread with Imperial margarine on them. And sometimes we’d just have a basket of fries, with vinegar and salt on them. But no matter how we ate them, I’d always be in heaven.

Thanks, Nancy and Jeff, for this most thoughtful and touching gift.

  1. I also have one scary memory – the time that my dad splashed burning hot oil out of the deep frier into his EYE! He has to wear an eye patch for a while after that while his eye healed. []

By

Shadow

As part of my “take a self-portrait every day for 365 days” challenge, I took today’s photo while sitting my beloved purple chair. I figured it was nice and sunny and you can see a bit of my beloved river view in the background. But when I saw the photo afterwards, I nearly fell over. My profile in shadow looks exactly, uncannily, hauntingly like my dad. I can’t stop looking at it.

I’ve searched through my photos and can’t find any photos of him in profile, but for those of you who knew him – don’t you think that looks a lot like him?

Day 16

I miss you, Daddy.

By

One Year

A year ago today, my Dad had his last thought. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I’ve been assuming that the anesthesiologist who put him under for his brain surgery asked him to count backwards from 10 and the last thing he said was probably 10-9-8… What was the last thing he said other than that? I wished I’d asked the surgeon, but given the circumstances, it didn’t come to mind to ask him1. If I had to bet, I’d say he cracked a joke. My Dad never passed up an opportunity to crack a joke.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot as this day approached. I mean, I’ve been thinking about him a lot since the day we learned he had a brain tumour last January and all through this year we’ve spent without him. I’ve written this blog posting in my head about a million times over the last month or so, and I can never get it right. How could I? I miss my Dad so much, every single day, and I don’t know how to express it. It’s mix of sorrow, anger, disbelief, love, and a hollow place that will never be filled. All the things he’ll miss out on. All the times we could have had.

I try to remind myself of the good times, the good memories. I try to remind myself that the loss of my Dad hurts so much because I loved him so much. And he loved me. And I was lucky to have a good and loving Dad. But it’s hard to remember that without thinking about how it’s unfair that I only got to have him around for 35 years. I should have had longer. It wasn’t nearly enough.

But it doesn’t do me any good to go down that line of thought for too long, because it’s not like it can bring him back. Though I do believe that it’s entirely healthy to let myself feel the sadness sometimes2, but not to wallow in it forever. And it’s not like he would have wanted me to wallow in sadness. My dad was generally a happy guy3 – he loved to tell jokes and make people laugh – our family gatherings were always full of jokes and laughter and I’m sure he liked it that way. I know I did.

I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife; as far as I can tell, once you die, you are gone. So I’m not going to see him again ever, and that’s hard. I take some comfort, as I’ve mentioned before, in the knowledge that he didn’t suffer, because he really valued quality of life and living life to its fullest, and the fact that his eyes were donated so that two people who would be blind otherwise can now see, because I know he would have liked that. I know that the best way I can honour his memory is to be a person who does some good in the world, the way he and my mom raised me to be.

After my Dad’s surgery, we waited in the hospital for three days before the doctors were able to tell the extent of the damage that had happened to his brain during his surgery and the fact that he was never, ever going to wake up. The only thing keeping him alive were the machines he was hooked up to – a state that he had clearly told us he never wanted to be in – and so we took him off the machines. And then we sat vigil with him until he took his last breath and his heart stopped beating, some 14 hours later. So while today marks one year since my Dad’s last conscious moment, his death technically happened on Feb 11. Those days in the hospital, waiting hopefully for him to wake up, only to be crushed by the news that he never would, seemed an eternity. Yet the year that has gone by since then has gone by in flash. And I still can’t believe it happened at all.

I wish I had some happy, hopeful way to end this posting, but I think this is one of those times that I just have to feel my sadness.

I really miss my Dad.

  1. I don’t know why I’m so concerned with this thought, but I am. After he died, I racked my brain for “what was the last thing he said to me and I to him?” We were sitting in the waiting area the hospital chatting when they called his name and we hadn’t realized that they were calling him into surgery – we thought he was just going to fill in some paperwork – and so we thought we’d have a chance to give him a hug and wish him luck before he went into the OR. I can’t remember what we were talking about, though my sister says it was hockey, which seems like something we would have been talking about. I truly believed he was going to come out of that surgery and be OK, and didn’t actually think that that might be the last time I’d ever talk to him. []
  2. Sometimes I think about him – maybe a line in a song triggers it, or something happens and I think “I have to call Dad and tell him!” but then remember I can’t – and I end up crying in my kitchen or my parking garage. It doesn’t happen a lot, but seems to hit me when I’m least expecting it. []
  3. Don’t get me wrong – my dad wasn’t a pollyanna by any stretch – he could really get going on a rant about things that pissed him off (see: various Toronto Maple Leafs personalities through the years; most politicians), but I think his general disposition was to see things in a positive light. []

By

I Wonder What Dad’s Eyes Are Seeing Today?

My mom called yesterday to tell me that she got a letter from the Trillium Gift of Life Network saying that my dad’s eyes, which we donated after my dad died, had been used in two sight-restoring surgeries. Which means that two people who would otherwise be blind can now see thanks to my dad’s generous gift. He’d let us know that if he were ever in the position to be an organ donor, he wanted to do that. And it gave us comfort – on a very sad day for us – to be able to carry out his wishes, so it was a bit of a gift to us too.

eyes-diffuse2
I got my dad’s baby blues – figuratively speaking. Literally, someone else got them.

It’s funny, too, because just yesterday I was looking at the beautiful river view I have from my new apartment and I thought, “I wonder what Dad’s eyes are seeing right now?” Even though we didn’t have confirmation of it until my mom got the letter yesterday, I was pretty confident that my Dad’s eyes had been transplanted into people who needed it and it gives me some comfort to know that a little bit of him lives on – that he was able to help someone out one last time.

By

I Can’t Drive To Hockey Without Crying

I’ve had two hockey games since I returned home from Ontario and both times while driving to my hockey game, I started crying. Being that I live so far away from my family, my Dad’s death still seems a little bit unreal to me. I mean, I was there when he went in for surgery, I was there when he didn’t wake up. I was there when he died and I was there for the funeral. But now that I’m back in Vancouver, my day-to-day life isn’t punctuated with his absence the way it would be if I still lived close by, because I didn’t see my Dad every day. But every once it in a while, it hits me. Especially, it seems, when I’m driving to hockey.

This makes sense, though, because not only did my Dad share my love of hockey, but due to my crazy busy schedule, I usually make phone calls while I’m driving1, so I can feel like driving is less of a waste of time. And often when I drive to hockey, I call my parents house to chat with them. When I talked to my Dad, I would always tell him that I was driving to hockey and we’d talk about how my team was doing, or what he thought was wrong with the decisions the Leafs’ coaches were making, or what happened on the most recent episode of Cash Cab , or what whatshisname at the pigeon club said the other day, or just whatever. And so when I’ve driven to my last two hockey games, it makes me think of my Dad and I know that I can’t call him and have those conversations ever again. I really feel the loss. It makes it more real.

I am really sad that my Dad never got to see me play in person – I didn’t start playing hockey until I moved to Vancouver and he never came out here – but I’m so thankful that he was able to see me play live on the Internet during the Longest Game for CF. He watched every minute of the game that he could and he told me that I skated just like him and my Uncle Harry. It makes me smile to think about how much he liked watching that game and how proud he was of me.

I’m sure that over time I’ll be able to drive to hockey without crying, but I think that I’ll never play a hockey game without thinking about my Dad.

  1. Using my bluetooth headset, of course. All good and legal. []