You were placed on my heart today.
It was when I listened to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”, written by Bono of U2. This song speaks to the relationship between fathers and sons and Bono’s lyrics stirred thoughts and memories that have been dormant. It moved me to pen this note to you.
When I was twenty-eight years old and you passed away, I deeply grieved the loss.
But I am not sure that I was able to fully grasp the magnitude of the loss and its impact on me as young man.
Now, having three sons of my own, all thirty plus years and older, I have a greater understanding of how the death of a father would impact such a young man. It was devastating for me to loose you at such a young age, just as I myself was on the cusp of being new father.
I have really missed your presence over the years as I have grown as a husband, father, educator and leader.
Throughout the years I have regretted that we did not have more opportunities to spend more one on one time together. I always wanted you come watch me play soccer or to just for us to have more father and son time.
This did not happen as much as I desired, and I have harboured some anger and resentment as a result. So I promised myself that when I became a father I would ensure that I would do everything possible to spend significant one on one time with my children.
Upon reflection, I have come to believe that you would have liked to spent more time with me and with my six siblings. You also may have had some regrets around this. But I have grown to deeply appreciate how hard you had to work to run the family business, and invest countless hours, to make sure that you were able to provide a home where your children could thrive.
I get that now.
My wishes to spend more time together stemmed from how much I loved you. And I do realize that you loved me too. Your love may not have been demonstrated by spending lots of time with me, but it was demonstrated in other ways that I am now so aware of and thankful for.
Like the time you left a new pair of soccer boots for me on the kitchen counter when I was five years old. You knew that I needed a pair of boots and you went out of your way to buy them and left them out for me on Saturday morning before my game. This was an unexpected gift, a delightful surprise, and an undeniable expression of your love.
Or the times when I was very young and you took me to the Vancouver Canucks hockey games at the old Forum Arena in Vancouver. I have such fond memories of just us attending the games together. I will always cherish those times we spent travelling to and from the games. In a large family, this was a treasured time to be alone with you.
I also loved the weekend visits to Callister Park in East Vancouver where along with a group of your friends we would pile into our family station wagon and go to see our favourite local soccer team, Columbus, play on Sundays. I still can feel the warmth of the car heater and picture the smoky interior of the car as you and your friends puffed away on cigarettes both to and from the games. And I remember you giving me some money to buy a much-needed hot chocolate to stay warm during the games.
You probably would be pleased to know that the tradition of taking one’s son to sports events has continued, as that is one activity that I have shared with my own sons over the years. The time that I share with them is also memorable and cherished.
One of my most treasured memories was when you took me to Italy to visit our relatives. There was so much joy in travelling just with you and going on a plane for the first time. I can remember the new clothes and the special sized fedora you purchased especially for me to prepare for the trip. I felt loved and very special.
I still recollect the season the you met my future wife Anne, and grew to love her. You delighted in the fact that she was an accomplished athlete and such a good wife and mother. You were so proud of her, just as I was and continue to be. I can remember one day when she visited you at the hospital and she brought you the medal she had just won at the Commonwealth Games. You were so proud of her that you took it from her and wheeled around the hospital ward showing it to the patients and medical staff.
And then there was the day you got to meet our first son David, your grandson. He was just a few weeks old. Even though you were so ill at that time, you held him, smiled and talked to him in Italian. It was heart warming to see you with him and to share a moment of time with him. I am so glad you got to meet him before you passed, but so sorry that you were not able to meet our other sons Peter and Michael. But I am confident that one-day you will. And now we have three daughter in laws, Kathryn, Shauna and Jayne, and two grandchildren, Levi and Hunter, whom I am excited for you to also meet one future day. What a great reunion that will be.
Along with these memories there is so much more I have grown to appreciate. You modelled important characteristics as hard work, commitment, dedication and risk-taking. And at the core was always the importance of providing for and leading your family. You have passed these traits on to me and they have assisted me to develop and grow as a father and husband.
I always wanted to gain your acceptance and for you to be proud of me. I sought to be a diligent son, who became a successful leader, husband and father. And though you have not been physically here to experience the past thirty-four years, I sense that you are aware of all that has transpired during my lifetime.
I know it has taken me a while to write this note but I hope you can appreciate how much you have meant to me, to Anne, and to our growing family.
Even though you left this world early, you left a legacy of love that continues today.
Thank you Dad.
Love your son,