I was very nervous leading up to this day. So, I looked up on the internet for ways that make help me to calm my nerves. One suggestion that I found quite useful suggested that I do the following – you may wish to follow along as you read…
Extend your right arm and hold it outstretched just in front of you.
Take your index finger and your thumb and prepare to draw them close to the bridge of your nose.
Bring your fingers to your nose and, while placing them just in front of the bridge of your nose, tilt your head back to expose the front of your neck.
Prepare your left hand as it moves towards your neck. Make sure the index finger is given permission to connect to the throat first by tucking the thumb ever-so-slightly down and under the index finger.
Bring the left hand to the throat and strike the throat – not too hard and not too soft while uttering a noise that resembles a “humming noise”. Repeat this strike while humming “Wheel May The Keel Rou”… (an Old Scottish tune that I’m not sure how to spell).
Note: This technique works best with a glass of body builder in front of a bonfire, while accompanied by friends and family.
Dad’s bagpipes are certainly something with which all of us are familiar.
If that memory doesn’t strike a chord with you – then how about the following:
Tim and I a -hunting went…. Who is this guy juicy fruit….. water, I need water…. three guys were walking on a beach when suddenly one of them kicks a bottle in the sand… bologne… I have no money – do you?… Duffy’s Tavern, Duffy speaking… Feliz Navidad…. Some ha’ meat and canny eat… the dew may kiss the butterfly, a man may kiss his wife good-bye… buenos noches… get the bag, get the bag… lang may your lum reik -get out of my kitchen (this was originally Mom’s and then later Dad borrowed it), Why that’s tongue sir. Disgusting answered the man – I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of an animal’s mouth – give me a couple of hard-boiled eggs… and what did you use for lighting? I don’t know – I was on the day shift…. brrrrrandy….you’ll be getting the furry part of me hand… one fish, two fish, nodder fish, nodder fish… we all know whose boss, Tessie you’re fired!, …Wise old owl sat in the oak – the more he heard the less he spoke…and of course the famous.. ta-ta-for-now or TTFN.
And then – the songs, “oh, Suzanna’s the funny old man” “Cocaine Bill and Morphine Sue were strolling down the Avenue (I didn’t know what that song was about until YEARS later but I know I used to teach it to other kids in kindergarten), Chase me Charlie, Chase me Charlie…
It is quite remarkable that one man can have so many one-liners that can be associated with him – but that’s Dad.
One thing Dad knew, though, and was gracious to offer it at every opportunity was the importance of gratitude. Dad was always so grateful for his life. He and Mom preached to Jamie and I to always “count our blessings”.
For several months now, and I know many of you know, Dad and I have been writing his memoires in the form of a blog. The voice that we used to recount his tales was his. He told me the stories and I wrote them up. Dad always had to hear them once they had been written and he would correct my inaccuracies when he felt they were “big” enough to be corrected. He appreciated that he was to be an author – finally. He was grateful to all the people who took the time and trouble to read about his life. We watched as numbers of viewers/ readers grew from 5 to 30 to 100 to his biggest day 244. He marvelled that people from India, Mexico, Canada, Norway, and the USA would be interested in reading about his life. He had so many stories to tell and these stories are waiting to be told.
I know if Dad were going to tell one last story, though, it would be a story of a man who, reflecting on his life, would tell you what a good life he had. He was grateful that he got to travel so much, to fly in planes, to have a wonderful family- a beautiful wife, to have such wonderful friends, and to have his health. Dad always said, “If you don’t have your health – you don’t have anything.”
I know if Dad were able to speak through words today that he would say thank-you to all of you for a wonderful life. I think my job here today is to express Dad’s appreciation to you.
Thank-you for what you have all given to Dad. In his words, ” Thank-you for calling me Poppa and “Poppa Old”… for asking my advice and respecting my opinion… for coming to Wednesday night dinners.. for offering me brandy by spoon… for encouraging me – the horizontal kid .. to get up in the morning… for giving up your mom so often when she came to take care of me… for inviting me to your grade 12 graduation… for updating me about how your new teaching career is going… for entertaining us and meeting so many people when Grandma and I went on a cruise with you, your sister, your Mom and Dad… for playing Connect 4 with me… for not skunking me too often… for polishing Paula’s silverware… for helping me to the pink chair… for the pink chair… for taking me for one last ride in a plane… for telling me about your wrestling, karate, soccer, basketball, and volleyball… for giving me a good deal on tires, making me strawberry tarts and supporting Stacey… for cleaning the dryer vent… for sharing your faith with me… for giving me books and more books to keep my brain active… for encouraging me to go to the pool… giving me such great big hugs… having sleep-overs at my house… keeping in touch… supporting me when Paula passed away… honouring and respecting my contributions to this country… not spending my money on a new television… for making me muffins that kept me regular… for keeping me safe from tele-marketers… for telling me jokes… for dancing and singing with me… for taking care of Paula when she was ill… for asking for seconds…. for giving up your wife on so many occasions leaving you to stick-handle three kids, your house, and job … for giving me chocolates and date-squares… for helping me with the cross-word… for giving me the opportunity to end my life in my own home with dignity.
I thank God for these blessings – for you.
To end, I’d like to leave you with a few words that are lyrics from a movie that Mom and Dad used to love watching called, “White Chistmas”. Its a song from a scene when Bob and Betty are having trouble sleeping because they don’t want to miss anything – they are on their way to Vermont where they are anticipating have a great time skiing on the snow-covered mountains. It goes like this..
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings. When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all. And I fall asleep counting my blessings. If I’m worried and I cant sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings…