Now this one, you really have to sell. You don’t have this problem with Mother’s Day in May. Everyone gets geared up for that one. After all, mom rules the roost. Dad and the kids make sure mom has a special day that lasts all day.
Then comes Father’s Day this Sunday (June 20). In some places it’s more like Father’s Hour. Just doesn’t seem to last all day. Dad is given a gift or a funny card. Ha ha. Everyone has a good laugh and then everyone is off doing their own thing again. Dad is left to fend for himself. Secretly though, dad doesn’t mind. It’s just what dads do.
On the Internet on one website it says Father's Day is a celebration in honour of all fathers and takes place on the third Sunday of June. Father's Day is a day of commemoration and celebration of dad. It is a day to not only to honour your father, but all men who have acted as a father figure in your life - whether as stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers or "Big Brothers." Normally, children and wives do or buy something for their fathers and husbands (at this point the website goes into a commercial to buy something).
Personally, I can’t remember what my brother and I ever bought for my dad on Father’s Day. We would give him something, I’m sure, because our mom would make sure that would happen. I’m sure many families are the same way.
I can’t remember what I bought him but I sure do remember him being there for what were momentous occasions in my life.
I’ve probably shared this story a thousand times so please forgive me if you’ve heard it before.
One of the most precious memories I have is on my 10th or 11th birthday and I had my dad all to myself. It’s interesting how kids covet those hours or minutes and sometimes days where they can have a parent to themselves. The kids aren’t being mean. They of course share with their siblings, but it was a special time when it was one on one with dad or mom. Anyway, I digress. That special birthday. My dad took me down to the local drug store and I was allowed to buy ten comic books. Ten! That was a dollar’s worth of comic books (they cost a dime each back then, unless you bought one of those “Classic” comic books that had more pages and then it was 15 cents). So that was the start. Ten comic books. Then we hopped a bus and went to the Hamilton Forum on Barton Street ( Hamiltonians will get a memory or two out of that) to watch the wrestling matches. None of the glitz they have nowadays, no sir, this was the real stuff ( at least it was to a 10 or 11 year old).
I remember we saw Hans Schmidt (who was the perennial bad guy) but I can’t remember who he was wrestling ( no one ever remembers the good guy). In any event, there was a celebrity referee— boxer Joe Louis ( ask your grandfather). To a kid like me, Joe had no idea what he was doing in the ring and tried to keep control but was losing it. Some lady tossed one of her shoes at him and hit him in the cheek ( on his face, not elsewhere). Little did I realize that many years later, while working in radio in Sarnia, Ontario, that during an annual Sportsmen Dinner fundraiser, my job was to keep Joe Louis entertained during the day as he was the guest speaker at the dinner that night. Don’t know if I ever brought up that wrasslin’ match to him in Hamilton.
Anyway, that entire memory, as clear as a bell to me, was compliments of my dad who was always there for his two boys.
My dad couldn’t stand on a pair of ice skates but he made sure his two boys and the rest of the neighbourhood kids piled into his delivery truck on the weekend and he’d trek us off to one outdoor rink or another. He would freeze in his truck and we kids would play for hours on the ice because we knew how to skate. After all, what are ankles for?
He was there to teach me how to ride a bike and later how to drive a car. Yes, back then, there weren’t any driving schools. You were taught by family.
He was there to teach me an appreciation of music of all kinds. Sure I had my rock and roll when I was growing up but I am student of all genres of music thanks to him.
He was there to encourage me to keep practicing as I was learning to play piano. He was a bad player himself and his brother was a professional musician.
He was there to teach me new cuss words when a do-it-yourself construction project at home didn’t go as smoothly as it could. He’d always get it done and I learned some choice words along the way.
He seemed to be always there. Nice feeling to have. I was blessed.
Then one day, there we were in a hospital. He was on a bed hooked up to all kinds of tubes and we looked at each other and I felt I was there for him.
As we made eye contact, he had his final heart attack and he wasn’t there any more.
It was not an easy time for me and to this day, the month of May is a tough month for me.
He may not be here in body but he sure is in spirit. How else could I write this column based on memories alone.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, uncles, etc out there and a special Happy Father’s Day to my dad— he was always there.
I’m John Divinski.