Monday, May 29, 2006


Daddy's girl

When I was growing up, people used to say I looked just like my mother, but I was really my father’s daughter. Hmm, let’s see: my dad is an unrepentant optimist, a sceptic, and a comedian. He tends to be obstinate, and is known to have an occasional flare of temper. He’s a klutz. He’s smarter than the average bear, and he’s got a way with words. He’s a social, loquacious creature who is happiest with a captive audience. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and always believes the best in people. He may be a tad obsessive at times.

Nah, we have nothing in common, my dad and I.

What’s even more scary is how much more like him I’m becoming, as the years pass by. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve chided Tristan lately for making noise just for the sake of it. I never used to understand that criticism when I was a kid. Dad, you were right – there is value in silence, and in quiet. I’m so sorry!

When I was a kid, I idolized my dad. In Grade 8, our music teacher told us to write an essay about a musician we liked, and why. I remember the other kids wrote pieces on everyone from Mick Jagger to Blondie to Bach but I wrote about my dad, who was a drummer during my early childhood. (Of all the characteristics I inherited, a sense of rhythm was not one of them. And, I suspect I am tone deaf. Hopefully, the boys will inherit some combination of my father’s and Beloved’s musical talent, and I will teach them about the suicide squeeze and the infield fly rule instead.)

For a while, when I was around four years old or so and we were all blissfully happy but apparently poor as church mice, my mom worked days while my dad played with his band evenings and weekends and offered drumming lessons during the day. (Jenny Jones, the erstwhile talk-show host, used to be a student of his back in the 1960s.) He took care of me while my mom was working, and I have dim but happy memories of being the princess in a small crowd of friends who met for breakfast at the Red Grill in downtown London. Now that Beloved stays home with the boys part-time, it’s comforting to think that my boys will have the same happy memories of time with their dad some day.

The day came, though, that my father decided his musical career was not enough to support his growing family and he got a job in fundraising. Within a couple of years, he was the salesman of the year for his multinational company, and I learned from him about sacrifice, and positive thinking, and pushing yourself to reach your goals.

As I’ve written about before, my dad had a liver transplant in 2001, when I was five months pregnant with Tristan. The toxins that his liver couldn’t filter from his blood stream poisoned him, poisoned his brain, so that the things I loved the most – his wit, his cleverness, his charm – were clouded, and almost lost. I’ve always been close to my dad, but somehow the disease, and his ultimate recovery, has made us closer. Of course, the fact that my parents moved across the province to live near us shortly after Tristan was born has helped us to stay close, too!

Today is my dad’s birthday. I could write an entire blog about how much I love my dad, telling a new anecdote every day that would make you laugh, and sometimes cry. He is truly my hero, the kind of father every daughter should have. I’m proud he’s mine.

Happy birthday, Dad. We love you!