34 Years Ago---Memories...
Saturday, January 30th, 1982, my dad died and was followed two and a half years later by my mom. All I can say is we are fortunate to have memories!!! My dad was never sick--in fact he frowned on it lol! He became ill on Saturday, January 23rd, 1982, admitted to hospital on the 26th, diagnosed with acute leukemia on the 28th, airlifted to Calgary on the 29th and passed away on Saturday morning, January 30th, 1982. The reason I am really thinking about this is because this year, oddly enough, the days correspond exactly to the dates, corresponding to the year he died. (The weather is entirely different, 1982 was brutally cold with lots of snow!)
My dad was an incredible man--who was not without a lot of flaws. When I was younger I focused on the flaws--he was not always considerate of my mom and me,or so I thought (as I grew older I realized a lot of his reactions were precipitated by mom or me lol)! He was a hard task master--he expected jobs he assigned to be completed flawlessly, decent marks at school, adherence to his strict curfews, etc. (The list seemed endless!) One thing he would not tolerate, "in any way, shape or form" was a lie and should I be caught in one the outcome was most unpleasant--for me!!! Now as an adult, I have come to truly appreciate his strictness, guidance and yes, LOVE! I only wish he would be here to hear me say "Thank-you Dad!" What I truly cherish is the last year of his life--it was the year that he and I could actually communicate, often finding ourselves "on life's same page"--actually enjoying each other's company!!! It truly reminds me of that old saying, "It is unbelievable how smart my Dad became in the last year!" And....he most certainly did!!! (lol)
What I really remember most are the life lessons he taught me:
1. Treat everyone with respect, it does not matter if they are homeless, alcoholics, etc. or if they are the pillars of the community--they are all people and deserve equal respect. (My mother and I did not always see it that way!) I remember being rude to one of the hired men and my father saw it. I was called to task and my response was "no big deal--you pay him to work for us!" Trust me I paid dearly for that comment!!! It was one of the best lessons I learned--and, fortunately I learned it at a young age!! He is right--ALL people deserve respect! But, that does not mean a person cannot question their actions!
2. Be frugal, but yet generous--an oxymoron or so it appears! We did not waste money! To my father there was a big difference between the words "need" and "want"! If I made the fatal mistake of saying "I need it" instead of "I want it" there was no chance that I would get it. He truly wanted me to understand the difference: however, he would do the same to my Mom and that did not always go over too well for him lol--her silent treatment could ensue for hours, days, weeks and at one point months!) But, if a friend of his needed money for a good cause, my father would lend him the money, without question! (By the way, that did not go over all that well with my Mom lol). He also stressed the importance of giving back to the community that has treated us well.
3. Be firm but yet show love. My friends would always have nicer clothes and more things than I did. But, no matter how I tried, he would not budge! But I remember bumping along in the old Fargo half ton and my dad would reach over and grab my knee--I loved that--you could feel his love flooding out of him and wrapping around me--enveloping my very soul! To this day, I can still feel that touch!
4. Be fair--never cheat anyone, if anything give more than was expected. I remember his biggest "bugbear" was Revenue Canada and Income Tax. He kept meticulous records (in fact, Y and I just destroyed the last ten years of his records this summer, we found them in an old filing cabinet that we had squirreled away in our garage after my Mom's death). He would instill the importance of making regular payments to Revenue Canada and give it more than what it was expecting--so when income tax was filed, there would be a surplus. This, in his mind, would avoid an audit! Perhaps he was right--he was never audited. He truly believed in--"giving Caesar what was rightfully Caesar"--he did not always like it but he did it lol!
5. Have expectations of yourself and of your family--I do but it seems it does not always work out the way I want or expect lol!
This list could easily become one of my infamous endless ones, so I will quit! I will conclude with--"Thanks Dad for your expectations, strictness, and love--I truly miss you and love you back!"
THE MAJESTIC COTTONWOOD!
Cottonwood, a type of poplar I believe, is indigenous to Medicine Hat and many other cities on the prairies. We have a mammoth one in our yard--the trunk's diameter, I am sure, is in excess of four feet, maybe even five feet and it cascades over our yard at a height of about forty plus feet. For eleven months out of the year we love this tree, we marvel at its strength, its bark and its size. For the most part, she (and a she, she is) is a well behaved tree. It provides shade and shelter and does not send out shoots all over the lawn like most poplars are famous for doing. Even in the fall, when she drops her leaves, she does it relatively quickly giving us ample time to clean up her golden deposits before winter sets its course. The boys and I would often jest that we were raking up gold, but we could only wish lol!
Y on the other hand marvels at her, but she does have some issues concerning her behavior! (Perhaps, they are too much alike lol!!) The main issue consumes mainly the month of June How our beloved tree has escaped with her life each year is beyond my grasp of understanding???? She,'the tree' (better clarify which she lol), first of all sends down these "sticky things" that adhere to everything--especially bare or stockinged feet, only to release themselves freely on the hardwood floors, rugs, footstools, etc. The conflict is building! Y. waits and waits to put out her bedding out plants in hopes "the tree" will have shed her cotton! We know it's coming--the question is--WHEN? Each year we look up and access the situation and each year the tree looks like it has hardly any cotton pods so it is safe to plant!!!. "The tree" watches Y's every move-- NO COTTON! Y's pots and flowers look wonderful for about one day--THEN "the tree", in her excitement, releases the cotton. Honestly, it is like a ticker tape parade or a winter blizzard!!! It blankets everything--all Y's flowers, the grass, the lawn furniture, the patios--I mean everything! The cotton adheres to the leaves of the flowers sucking out all their moisture. Y is frantic! She battles back with the hose, but it is almost to no avail!!! I am sure "the tree" is just celebrating Y's victory of getting everything planted, but Y does not see it that way---no-siree!! My buddy, Garth Helle from Poplar Mechanics Tree Cutting, severed a huge branch that over hung the house. It was an endeavor that nobody thought possible--surely it would crash into the house!!! Garth pulled it off without a hitch!!! However, I notice Y has his number out, during the month of June!!!!
Will "the tree" survive another year? Of course it will--for three reasons: It is a historical part of Medicine Hat, its good behavior eleven months out of the year is reason enough to be forgiven and it provides such wonderful shade during the hot summers--by the way allowing Y's flowers to blossom incredibly and not be scorched by the hot prairie sun and wind. NOTE: The pictures attached are of our "Beloved Cottonwood" "long may she reign over us!"
* Please see my facebook page for photos!