For longer than I can remember, my Mom was after my Dad to write his memoires. She purchased him a hand-held tape recorder and tried to show him how to use it – nothing fancy – just record and play. Still, years later, the tape recorder remained dormant. Every once in a while Mom and I would “find” the tape recorder again and try to figure out where he had left off – but the tape recorder just kept collecting dust. If the truth be known, Dad’s Parkinson’s had left him with an inability to communicate his thoughts to his fingers well enough to learn how to turn it on. Later, I discovered that he really didn’t think his stories were good enough to tell. “No one would be interested in reading about my life, Stacey.” , he would say to me.
Mom passed away November 12, 2010 and our lives were thrown into chaos. I didn’t really know Dad that well as my relationship had been with Mom. It was she and I who stayed up till 4 in the morning – just talking. It was she and I who shopped, cooked, danced together, and cried together. Suddenly Dad and I were thrown together and he, at that time needed 24 hour care. By the grace of God and some very wonderful women, I was able to set up the care Dad needed and kept him at home. This meant I could continue to be his daughter. But what did that mean? I remembered that one of Mom’s goals for Dad was for him to tell his stories. This was something I could do with Dad – something we could share, and something that could bring us closer together.
I am a teacher, and while working with my students, I learned how to blog. I discovered how easy it was to simply type a story and then publish it. I thought, “aha”. This is it! I’ll get a blog going and record his stories as he tells them. So, my niece Megan, set us up with a blog and I would sit with my lap top beside Dad’s chair and prompt him to tell me stories. It wasn’t easy sometimes and I’d have to ask a lot of questions. But the end product was and continues to be so vitally rewarding.
I learned a lot about my Dad through this process and felt that we had become much closer as I seemed to “finally” understand what he was all about. Dad was a pilot during World War II, did air-traffic control, was a supervisor at the Canada Manpower Centre in Barrie, co-owned the New Lowell General Store, sold real estate, and was a hobby farming growing and selling raspberries and making maple syrup.
Through this blog, Dad and I rejoiced in his life and he was thrilled that so many of you readers found an interest in these long-buried tales.
Dad was 91 on June 15, 2012 and was until the day he died, of sound mind – a gift to me so that he could recount his stories. I visited him twice or three times a week and we shared a glass of wine while I pieced together the stories that he told me. I didn’t always get the details right but eventually he heard my mistakes and had me correct them.
This blog was a journey that we took together. Now that he had gone, I am embarking on another journey – one of healing – and one where I really need to rediscover myself. I wonder whose voice I will use? Will it be Dad’s, Mom’s or my own? I feel a little nervous and a lot sentimental as I turn my focus from caring from Mom and Dad to now really caring for my husband and children. It is a transition for all of us – but inevitably a good one.
I was and continue to be truly blessed and wish others the fortune to be able to give pleasure to your parent(s) and learn about your own history.
Again, thanks to everyone for you interest and compassion as I continue to take this sentimental journey without my Dad.
Stacey (the ghost writer) and Stacey (the primary author)