My father was the first father in Oakville to be awarded sole custody of his children….I was four years old and my brother was only one. My dad made every weekend an absolute delight. We hiked, biked, canoed, camped, and skiied regularly. We spent hours and hours at the library, Ontario Place, Harbourfront, Bronte Park, Algonquin, Grandview ..and so many other incredible places. We travelled all over Canada. He took us to meet Eskimos in the Yukon, went panning for gold and it was there that I caught my first fish with a smaller fish inside…
He made us tiny pancakes, cut all sorts of incredible shapes out of apples, made us ice cream cones with delicious candies embedded inside. We watched “Emergency”, the “Beachcombers” and Disney movies every Sunday night. He took us to the variety store where he taught us how to spend money wisely; he also taught us how to save. He converted an old tv into a puppet theatre. He watched every show my brother and I put on for him. He converted boxes into robots. We made forts with him in the snow and the leaves, as well as in our blankets and chairs inside. When it was a special occasion, he cut footprints out of paper and we had to follow them around the house to find our presents. He bought us big helium balloons and special, meaningful gifts. He went to a lot of work every April Fools’ Day. And Christmas was so abundant. When I only received one toy but a lot of clothes one Christmas, I cried. My Dad comforted me and explained that I was growing up and I didn’t need that many toys anymore. When we got home from visits with our mom, we found newspaper clippings on our desks that he thought would interest us, small items he thought we would like, and notes he had written us.
When my father put my brother and myself to bed, he told us wonderful stories that he made up all by himself. We spent hours each night in an even more beautiful world than this one. I used to have many nightmares. One night, my dad picked me up from my bed in my nighty and took me to the end of the driveway and set a fire there for me. We roasted marshmallows together.
My dad called me “Twinkle Toes” because of my zest for life. He told me I was brave. He told me I was important. He told me I could do anything and I knew he believed it. He told me when I made smart decisions. He helped me sort the lies out from the truth; I could always count on him to always be honest with me. He taught me values. He modelled integrity and hard work. He helped me with my school work, explaining the tricky concepts to me. My brother and I respected him so much that we never misbehaved. And we both knew how much love our father had for us; his eyes said it all.
When I reached the age of ten, my dad remarried. Our whole world turned upside down. My father put my stepmom in charge of raising us. We hardly saw him after that. He climbed to great positions in the corporate world. Years later, I came to realize that my Dad never knew his importance in our lives. He never knew what an incredible father he had been to us. My mother, nanny and then stepmom caused such pain for us that subconsciously he felt he had failed us.
My dad no longer speaks to me. He lives across the country from me. I never was able to convince him of what an amazing father he was. He has other children with my stepmom and they are a big part of his life now that he is retired: I am happy he is not alone. But I believe he hurts every day because he feels he failed my brother and me. I will always love my dad and be grateful for those first 10 years of my life with him. I hope that whatever my dad is doing today, he has a good Father’s Day.