A day to remember

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Sunday is Father's Day. It'll be the first without Dad, and since I think about him every day, there's no doubt he'll be on my mind this weekend.

He died in March after a long scrap with dementia, an unrelenting opponent that slowly makes people vanish.

Dad had all but disappeared by the time he died.

He didn't weigh 100 pounds, his face was sunken and he hadn't been able to talk, walk or eat solids for a couple of years.

Sadly, and this bothers the heck out of me, I'm finding it hard to picture Dad before dementia.

I've been robbed of mental images of when he was a loving and foolish father, a big man who worked like a plow horse to provide for his family.

I hope this is temporary, a part of the mourning, because Dad deserves better. And he would never want to be remembered the way he was in the end. I suspect no one who died because of dementia would.

But while it's hard to envision Dad before the disease, it's easy to recall little things about him or the many things we did, like playing catch on the beach in front of the cabin or taking Sunday drives that always ended in strawberry ice cream.

Or "Sting" - not the singer, but his nickname for me.

Or the flavour he put on a steak while cooking it over a fire.

Or his completely out-of-tune version of "Happy Birthday," which he tracked us down to continue singing to us in adulthood.

Or the long hours we spent cutting firewood, loading it on a pickup, and then splitting it, stacking it, and storing it at home.

I hated cutting wood as a teen, but would give just about anything for an afternoon sawing through birch with Dad right now.

I also remember his love of all things Newfoundland or how he'd reach into his pocket and give me $20 as long as I promised not to tell Mom.

Then there's his green jacket, his favourite chair, his love of "Coronation Street," his constant thoughts about opening businesses and his inability to pronounce "donair" properly.

I could continue, forever perhaps. There are just so many memories.

And in Dad's honour this Sunday, I'm simply going to do something fun and create memories with my own children.

That would be the greatest gift to Dad - as long as we end the day with strawberry ice cream.

Email Steve Bartlett at sbartlett@thetelegram.com. On Twitter, he's @TelegramSteve.

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  • Derek Chaulk
    June 14, 2013 - 05:48

    Well said Steve, and a fine man he was!

  • Jal
    June 13, 2013 - 10:11

    So sorry about your Dad Steve! Just do what you said and spend time making new memories with your children, as they too, will look back at them just like you are doing today. Happy Father's Day:)