Posts Tagged With: graduation

From the Archives

10384274_10154759045550231_8179941104415000128_n 10600562_10154759045800231_7690868247733129222_n 10689599_10154759045285231_2417098351736450388_n

Categories: WWII | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leonard Birchall

Thanks to Dad – I know of Leonard Birchall – one of our famous Canadians who most young Canadians know nothing about.  But those who know burst with pride and admiration.  Birchall was honoured in 2009 as one of the 100 most influential Canadians in aviation and had his name emblazoned directly behind the starboard roundel on the fuselage with the others on the 2009 CF – 18 Centennial of Flight demonstration Hornet. (Lee, Mary. “Centennial Heritage Flight – Precision and Flight Safety.”, 2009 Issue 2. Retrieved: 14 August 2010.)   But those who knew him bust with pride and admiration.

This photo was taken at the graduation ceremony for one of my “Duff” cousins at Royal Military College in Kingston.  Dad, as I recall, got a terrible sunburn on that day – but he was bursting with pride over Kent’s graduation. It was a very happy day.

I spoke about Birchall in a earlier post in Dad’s voice:  Catalina Flying Boat.


Please have a peek at one of Canada’s “historical figures and moments”.  Birchall is also known as the Saviour of Ceylon.

Categories: Duff History, World War II | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Alternate Ending

This morning, from “The Daily Post at,”  I read that, “When you write, the opening sentence and the closing line can feel like deal breakers. Ending your post shouldn’t feel like a trailing off, but a succinct closing that neatly ties together all that you’ve written. And as Hemingway’s 39 alternate endings suggest, sometimes it can take a few rewrites to really find what you’re looking for.”

For some reason, these words of advice resonated with me.  I guess I am a bit obsessed these days with openings and closings.

Dad’s beginning was certainly impressive:  he was so small that he was put in a shoe box and placed in the oven to keep warm.  I guess he was “cooking” from the day he was born.

Dad’s ending, though… did he manage to tie things up?  I can’t help but think the ending was too soon as I miss him so much.  But on the other hand, I know he felt that he stayed about a year and a half too long – his life after “Paula”.  He struggled to find meaning.  I bought him a Chicken Soup for the Soul book for the “golden years” so that maybe he’d find inspiration in those pages.  Dad read it – and enjoyed some of the stories – but still asked me the question, “Why am I still here?”.  In the end – a week before he passed away, he saw Ben – my oldest son graduate from high school, he heard about Katya’s athletic prowess with her many ribbons for sports including athlete of the year, he got big hugs from my youngest, David, who continued to want sleep-overs at Poppa’s house… he went flying with his son, Jamie – and he flew the plane.  He even watched Ben and David create and launch pop-bottle rockets in the back yard.

The photo pasted in this post was taken a week before Dad passed away.  How I wish there could be an alternate ending to his story.  But there is not.  Did he find meaning?  I don’t know.  Did he find closure?  I don’t know.  I am so grateful to have had my Dad for nearly 49 years.  For me, I’m not sure his death is the end.  There are photos to scan, memories to process, and still stories to tell.

Stacey:  Dad, did you know on this past Father’s Day that this one would be your last?

Bill:  I lived my life, Stacey, like every day was my last.

Stacey:  How did you find the strength to turn the page to the next day?

Bill:  I didn’t turn the page, Stacey, it was the Good Lord.  He turned the page and gave me the opportunity to write on it.

Stacey:  And how did your book end, Dad?

Bill:  Just like it began… one word at a time.  Live your life one word at a time… make your pages full.  For now… TTFN

Stacey:  TTFN, Dad.  I love you.

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

High Flight

It is difficult to imagine that it has been one year since this blog post was made – I recall Dad was not well, but still , I did not believe that he would only live another two weeks or so… what a man he was – courageous. It was a very difficult decision to give him the freedom to choose to fly for the last time – how silly when I think of it now – but a year ago I was so desperate to have Dad live forever… I did not once consider quality over quantity — ha! Anyhow – on this, this occasion of his 92nd birthday – I wish to repost this blog post – happy birthday, Dad. I still love you. – Stacey

Well, it’s official:  I am 91.

I really never expected to even out-live my wife and yet, here I am. 

It is a beautiful morning – the sun is shining and the sky is clear.  It is indeed a good day for a high flight.  And a flight is what my son is giving to me. 

Last year was quite a celebration. My family arranged a wonderful open house for me.  There were so many people that came to help me celebrate – I was embarrased and thrilled at the same time.  It was the first birthday I had celebrated without my wife and so I must admit it was rather bitter sweet.  I was so grateful to everyone (nearly 150 friends and family) who helped me ring in my 9th decade.  There was music, food, dance, and of course, wine.

The day after this party, my son took me up in a plane.  It was a little Cessna that flew out of the Oro Airport.  What a flight!  The weather was much like it is today.  We flew over the farm, New Lowell, Kempenfelt Bay, and Barrie.  Spectacular.  The pilot even let me take the “stick” for a while and commented how “we old pilots seem to have the magic touch”.  I don’t know if he was actually terrified or truthfully impressed.  My daughter joked that I went into the air as a 90 year old and came down as a 70-year old. 

So – this year – I don’t know how old I’ll be when I arrive back on the terra firma. 

One of the nicest gifts I could get, though, was the opportunity to see my grand-son, Ben, graduate from high school.   Ben attends a French school and wouldn’t you know it – the entire ceremony was in French.  So, the Dancing Nannies and I watched and laughed when others laughed.  I didn’t understand a word.  Still, when Ben was called forward for an award, my heart swelled.  That’s my boy!  Paula would have been proud.  I found out later the award was for “Most Continuous and Genuine Respect”.  Wow.  What an honour.  I went home with the Nannies a very tired and very PROUD 90 year old.

I wonder what great things are instore for me this coming year?  I appreciate every day and I appreciate those who still think of me from time to time.  And I appreciate those of you who allow me into your world though this blog. 

My birthday wish for you is the same as it is to my family:  good friends and good health!  Cheers!

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Blog at