My Dad is no longer with us and was just barely a senior but he qualifies for the calendar as my hero. My dad was my rock in so many ways. He was tough on me as a kid but always fair and always there for me when I needed help. He was tough but he loved to play jokes on all his girls too. There were four of us and we were a handful. He would do things like when I was taking a shower, he would feed the hose into the bathroom window and then turn the cold water on; he would laugh so hard. He smiled and cried with only his eyes and his eyes were where his emotions lived.
He loved to camp, and we all went to BC every year for holidays. I have the best memories of those times. He loved the water and would put all of us girl on his knees and throw us into the lake and we would be in the water all day. We would all laugh around the fire, go for bike rides – it was just the best. As I got older, I didn’t want to go on holidays anymore with the family, I wanted to be with my friends. I think that was hard on him as we all grew up and moved away. He took up a new tradition with his grandchildren by taking them to Sylvan Lake once a year. None of the parents were allowed, that was his time. He was a beautiful dancer, he was the life of any party, and he was a kind and loyal friend to many.
One of my dad’s favorite things to do was golf. He always said when I die, I want to die doing what I love. He had been working in Chicago, starting up a gas plant and he had been gone for 6 months but he came home for one of his grandsons’ graduations. He asked me to come over the night before the graduation and when I had to leave, he begged me to stay. He seemed really sad that I had to go. He gave me big, long hug and whispered in my ear that he loved me. My dad never did things like that. I think he knew something. The next day he died on the first tee of the Valley Ridge Golf Course. He was far too young with only just turning 66, but he died doing what he loved. I am sure he would have loved to have had more golf games, more time with his girls and grandchildren, and to meet his great children, but he said it often that was how he wanted to go, and he got his wish.
You never know who you touch in your life and like my dad, there were over 350 people at his funeral and more than half of them were people he worked with. He always said the guys who worked for him didn’t like him because he was tough on them. Little did he know how much respect so many had for him. He was tough on his workers too, but he was fair, and he wanted them to work hard and be safe. But he didn’t know how they really felt about him.
Because of the sudden way my dad died I don’t take life for granted. I write letters to my kids and grandkids every year to tell them how much they mean to me. My dad will never know the impact he had on my life, but I will carry his memories with me forever. His impact followed me into my work with seniors. When I go and visit lonely and isolated seniors and I often think of him and know he would want music, and laughter, a voice, and to feel valued if he needed to live in a care home. I try to bring about change for women and men like my dad who were proud and deserve so much more in their senior years.