stillpoint

musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Friday, December 15, 2006

remembering Dad in 101 ways

1.
Dad came into the world on January 24, 1920, in Toronto.

2.
He loved the city and lived here all his life.

3.
His parents emigrated from England in 1913.

4.
When Dad was a baby, his father disappeared.

5.
His mother died a short time later.

6.
Dad was raised by his older sister and their aunt
in a house on Maughan Crescent.
Dad, circa 1923, at Maughan Crescent, TorontoPhilip Cooke, age 3

7.
I think he always believed his father would show up again, someday.

8.
Dad was intelligent, well-read and perceptive.

9.
He was self-taught.

10.
Dad's first job was "in advertising".

11.
The job involved wearing a sandwich-board sign while walking up and down Yonge Street in Toronto.

12.
He never would tell me what his sandwich board was advertising.

13.
He joined a church youth group to get to know my Mom, but she had her eye on his younger brother and told Dad he was "much too old" for her.

14.
Dad looked great in a kilt. He always claimed Mom changed her mind about him once she saw those knees.

15.
Dad was a member of the Canadian Irish Regiment.

16.
He always loved bagpipe music. (Mom didn't. It reminded her too much of watching her man march off to war.)

17.
During basic training at Camp Borden in the 40's, Dad volunteered to teach new recruits how to ski.

18.
Dad had absolutely no idea how to ski. (Wish I could have seen him teach that 'lesson'!)

19.
While overseas during WWII, he grew a luxurious handlebar mustache.

20.
The moustache was red (which must have looked a little odd, since his hair was blond).

21.
When he came home, Mom refused to kiss him until he'd shaved the handlebar off. (It was gone within the hour.)

22.
He made a record (vinyl, 78 rpm) in New York City in 1948. "Hello everybody, this is Phil Cooke talking to you from New York. My wife's here with me but she won't talk. [Mom's voice, faintly, in the background: "Oh, Phil!]

23.
He passed the Civil Service exam and went to work for Canada Post, first as a letter carrier and later as a mail sorter — this in the days when the mail was sorted by hand. Dad knew the name and postal station for every tiny town and hamlet in Ontario and could fire an envelope into its proper slot quicker than my eyes could focus on the address.

24.
Dad's co-workers called him "Cookie".

25.
Dad started working the night shift when I was in grade six. From then until he retired, we rarely saw each other except on weekends.

26.
Sunday nights, Dad and I would walk to the corner store to buy something sweet—usually a Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. Then we'd share it with Mom while the three of us watched the Ed Sullivan Show on our old black-and-white TV.

27.
Dad called me "Cookie".

28.
He was passionate about his cars. Washing and polishing were his idea of the perfect Saturday morning.

29.
Dad's first car was a '53 Chevy, two-tone blue.

30.
Next came a green Nash Rambler with reclining seats. And clear plastic seat covers that stuck to your legs in hot weather. (Ugh!)

31.
There's a lemon in every crowd. Dad's was a yellow Buick. Nothing about that car was right.

32.
The replacement: a white Buick Skylark convertible. Best car ever! (I was 16 that summer.)

33.
The muscle car: a Dodge Charger. I can still feel the rumble of that engine. I think it was his favourite.

34.
Another white Buick; a black Buick; a burgundy Buick.

35.
Dad's burgundy Buick is mine now.

36.
He would not be impressed by my (lack of) washing, polishing, and vacuuming abilities. Or by the scuff mark on the front bumper where I misjudged the wall in the parking garage. Sigh.

37.
He enjoyed driving fast. On the 401. (But only when Mom wasn't looking.)

38.
Dad was house proud.

39.
He enjoyed gardening.

40.
He grew spectacular peonies, roses, and gladiolas.

41.
He liked stylish clothes and "interesting" ties.

42.
He wore size 12 shoes.

43.
Sometimes with a matching belt.

44.
He polished his shoes almost as diligently as he polished his cars, and always used shoe trees.

45.
When I was a very little girl, Dad would buy MacDonald's tobacco in tins and roll his own cigarettes. He'd let me "help". I still have one of those old 'Export' tins. The smell of tobacco will always remind me of him.

46.
Walking on the beach was one of our favourite things to do together.
Dad on the beach in FloridaDad on the beach in Florida (1996).

47.
Golf was Dad's sport of choice.

48.
He got a hole in one! Twice!!

49.
He tried valiantly to teach me how to play golf.

50.
If he was disappointed by all my divots and hook shots into the rough, he never let on. But after a while, he took me mini-golfing instead.

51.
He liked fishing because Mom liked fishing.

52.
The night before fishing trips, we'd wait until after dark, then take flashlights out onto the front lawn and collect worms. Dad put them in cardboard takeout food containers and stored them in our refrigerator. Beside the jam. Gross.

53.
Dad loved to travel. Especially if it was snowing in Toronto and the destination was warm!

54.
Dad was the proud Grandpa of three boys.

55.
He was with me when I brought baby J home from the hospital. From that day on, the two of them shared a special bond. J called his Grandpa "Poppy".
Dad with J and 'Bob' the Cabbage Patch Kid'Poppy' with 3-year old J and 'Bob' the Cabbage Patch Kid (1983).

56.
Dad was a kind and gentle man.

57.
He was a true gentleman.

58.
Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges could always make him laugh. N'yuk, n'yuk, n'yuk.

59.
He was slow to anger but explosive when his temper got the better of him.

60.
I don't remember ever hearing him swear. (Although I'm very sure he knew how!)

61.
In his 70's, Dad learned to paint with watercolours.

62.
He liked taking photos and almost always had his camera with him.

63.
Most of his photo subjects were missing the tops of their heads.

64.
He liked shopping.

65.
He liked his roast beef well done and his potatoes mashed, with gravy.

66.
He liked his coffee with cream and sugar.

67.
His favourite dessert was Mom's apple pie with a slice of old cheddar on top.

68.
Dad baked the yummiest, lightest, fluffiest tea biscuits I've ever tasted. Sometimes with cheese in them. Mmmm.

69.
He sang in a choir. Tenor.

70.
I never saw him drink beer but he enjoyed a good rum and Coke.

71.
He lost most of his hair at an early age but was very proud of his remaining snow-white fringes.

72.
I'm pretty sure he polished his pate.

73.
He had freckles. A lot of freckles!

74.
And a thumb-print birthmark on his right calf.

75.
Dad quit smoking, cold turkey, after nearly 50 years.

76.
He survived two serious heart attacks.

77.
He took care of an elderly neighbour for years because she had nobody else to rely on.

78.
He held hands with my Mom every day.

79.
He volunteered at Meals on Wheels.

80.
He called butterflies, "flutterbys".

81.
He loved dogs.

82.
Dad had great patience...until it wore out.

83.
He had a keen sense of humour.

84.
He understood that little boys don't really appreciate being teased.

85.
He teased them anyway.

86.
He loved Christmas.

87.
After he retired, Dad volunteered as one of Santa's Postal Helpers, answering some of the thousands of letters mailed each year to "Santa, North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0".

88.
He made a lot of children smile.

89.
Dad thoroughly enjoyed being retired.

90.
He looked forward to being a Great-Grandpa.

91.
He would have been a great Great-Grandpa.

92.
His first great-grandchild was born nine and-a-half months after Dad died.

93.
Dad loved his family above all else.

94.
Dad was greatly loved in return.

95.
In January 2000, Dad thought he had a stubborn head cold that wouldn't go away.

96.
Over the course of the summer, he consulted medical specialists, endured multiple tests and medications, but nothing helped.

97.
Dad was hospitalized in November 2000, by that time so weakened he was unable to walk.

98.
Finally, a diagnosis: Wegener's granulomatosis. The knowledge came too late.

99.
In early December, his kidneys failed. For the next two weeks, he spent most of every day hooked up to a dialysis machine. Another machine helped him breathe.

100.
Dad passed away six years ago today on December 15, 2000.

101.
We sure do miss you, Poppy.

xox

Love you, Daddy. G'night.

13 Comments:

At 2:00 am, Anonymous Kate I said...

what a great way to honour your dad. I enjoyed reading about him...it sounds like he was a really nice person and a lot of fun too!

 
At 9:50 am, Blogger Ostara said...

Right on both counts, Kate. :-) Thanks for reading.

Cheryl

 
At 12:15 pm, Blogger pylon1357 said...

I read this Tribute to your father and I must admit my eyes welled up with tears.

Beautiful insight.

Cliff
Fior Go Bas

 
At 12:22 pm, Blogger Ostara said...

Thanks, Cliff. Dad was a beautiful man. :-)

 
At 12:34 am, Blogger burekaboy — said...

what a wonderful and original recounting of the life of your father and how much he meant to you and your family. in 101 lines you have managed to paint a well rounded portrait of an obviously very special person. the picture of j & him is priceless. he obviously touched many people during his lifetime — thank you for sharing your story about him.

 
At 12:27 pm, Blogger Ostara said...

Thank you, burekaboy. When I began, I imagined it might be hard to do 101 things but, in fact, I wound up editing. So many happy memories and more than a few tears involved but overall a comforting experience. I'm glad people reading can also feel touched by Dad's life.

 
At 2:47 pm, Blogger Pammie said...

Hi Ostara, a lovely post, I enjoyed reading the 101 facts about your dad. Very original. Wouldn't it be nice to know that someone made such a tribute to you...

In my reply to your comment on my blog I forgot that you were Canadian because I remembered a previous post of yours with a photo of your dad talking to the Queen Mum and remembered the kilt...so I referred to you as a Brit, sorry about that!

 
At 4:22 pm, Blogger Ostara said...

No problem, Pammie, there's still enough English and Irish blood in these veins to feel the pull of home in the 'old country'.

Glad you enjoyed getting to know Dad. He would have been fascinated by your travel stories, I know.

Hope your strange and stormy weather will pass soon.

Ostara (in balmy Toronto -- it's 10 degrees here today (50F)-- amazing!)

 
At 6:15 pm, Blogger rondi said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you.

 
At 6:01 pm, Blogger Rupert G. Calvatheson said...

I live on Maughan. I wonder if you could tell me your father's address? Are there any additional pictures in your collection?

 
At 11:28 pm, Blogger Ostara said...

Hi Rupert. Sorry to say, I can't remember the address (if I ever knew it). Dad always just called it "the house on Maughan Crescent". I have a lot of photos to go through, though, and if I find any more of the house or neighbourhood, I'll post them. Just think - you could be living in the same house. Interesting, isn't it?

Cheryl

 
At 12:48 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

I really enjoyed reading about your Dad. It gave me a lovely portrait of a rounded person. I would have liked him - even if he was a dog person! Funny what memories pop up about them, what stands out. I got something different from both my fathers but all valuable to me as a human being. I bless yours and mine.

 
At 2:28 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for reading, Susan. Yes, I think you would've liked him. He was hard not to like!

 

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