Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pauly-P

Today would have been my dad's 81st birthday. He and I were almost exactly 30 years apart. He was fond of telling me that the older the parent, the smarter the child. I took that under advisement.

I adored my dad. It wasn't hard since he was my biggest fan, too. He used to say that he became a member of the "Women's Lib" movement the day I was born. He told me I could do anything I put my mind to. Powerful stuff for a young girl! He taught me how to hammer a nail, wallpaper a room, tell a joke, paint a baseboard, fix a fence, plant vegetables, estimate due dates of pregnant ewes (that involved crouching low and cocking your head to one side),  and drive a tractor. He also taught me the rules of hockey, to appreciate the many shades of green on a single leaf, to breathe deeply and remember the smells of nature, the power of a Shakespearean sonnet, and to always ask for the order at the end of a sales call.  In high school he would discuss my English papers with me until late into the night. We spent a lot of time together talking and debating. He tried to teach me to paint, but, alas, I had zero talent - my brother inherited all the artistic genes. He spent a lot of time with Kevin, too. 

One of the best lessons Dad taught me was not to be afraid of bullies. Although the subject of bullying is au courant, it is truly an ancient topic. I vividly recall the bully on our street: his name was Tommy and he had a little brother named Nicky. I have no idea what kind of horrors Nicky had to endure living with an evil brother, but 3 doors up from them, I was living in fear. My dad told me that I was smart and that I should  use my head when dealing with Tommy... so I did. The last time that Tommy ever bothered me was the day he wouldn't let me pass him on the sidewalk. He held out his arms wide, legs akimbo, and dared me to go past him to get to my house. I remembered my dad's words: I backed up, bent forward at the waist and ran full force with my head into his gut. Tommy never bothered me again. I'm still not afraid of bullies (and, yes they're still around even in my cohort), but now I use my head the way my dad originally intended! 

I had the good fortune of moving back in with my parents after I finished  university. It wasn't a difficult decision - I had no money and I loved being with my parents. It gave me a chance to interact with them as adults. And, I learned to appreciate what it was that the two of them had - a mutual respect and admiration and a deep, abiding love. I still view that time with them (all to myself) as a gift.

My dad and Bill had a tempestuous relationship. It's not surprising - they were very similar.  I knew that I would end up marrying someone like my dad because I loved him so much. Luckily, I found my version of my dad all wrapped in a feisty lawyer from Niagara Falls.

Dad died too soon;  he was only 73. He was plagued by melancholia in his later years. He searched for contentment his whole life and, even though most people would have thought he'd found it, it remained elusive to him. In the end, I think he just 'gave up the ghost' and succumbed to his head problems. He felt things deeply, reacted irrationally and sometimes blew his cork, and would often say outrageous things to strangers just to get a reaction! He was a passionate man to say the least.

But, he taught me how to love unconditionally - by example. I was so lucky to have him as my father. I miss him to this day.


  1. this is so sweet. really made me smile

  2. This is one of my favorite blogs from you:)