Monday, October 7, 2013
My Father - A Man Missed and Much Loved
For the past eleven years October 7th has been an autumn day that seems to trumpet the changing of the season. On this day I see, hear and feel that shift. Whether the rain is a bit colder, the wind a bit stronger, the sun a bit lower in the sky.
My last day with my father was at his bedside, embracing the family and waiting. Waiting for his racing, heaving heart to end its marathon. He lay in peaceful comfort and was attended to with the greatest of care.
That sunny Sunday morning I plucked the only red leaf from a newly planted maple tree already bursting with yellow, orange and rust. Like my father, that one red leaf stood out among the others.
My father had many talents. I am particularly proud of his time as a Canadian farmer. Besides the business itself, he and my mother architected a very large garden to provide for the family.
Although my mother tended to much of the planting and then preserving, I felt my father was more involved with the potatoes and carrots. With his equipment and strong arms, we stored away countless 50-pound burlap bags of root vegetables to feed us through the winter. He was always there with the tractor when we were harvesting the high hanging fruit from our abundant pear tree.
Perhaps his greatest gift to us was choosing to call Canada home. Because of his courage to see Canada as his future, he enjoyed 48 years here and his growing family now lives in the finest country in the world.
That sad Sunday morning the lone red maple leaf was a last minute grab before heading to the hospital. I wanted a little piece of the outside world to be touching my father as he lay sleeping in his windowless, sterile, high-tech setting. As the hours past, the bright red maple leaf continued to shine like a badge against his blue gown.
When so many details of finality were looming large, in all the blur, I still somehow managed to bring the tired maple leaf back home. A little bit drier and curled. It lays tucked in the pages of my hymn book at song 67 - Silent Night. Perhaps my father's favourite hymn.
On this cold, sunny, windy, rainy day, I see the leaves glowing red again. A reminder for us of the changing season. A reminder for me of my last day with a very special man.