Bye bye

It’s like old times at the office this Thanksgiving weekend, almost. An old clock ticks away and it feels like the wee hours of a deadline morning over 40 years ago.

I would be the age my son is now, hanging out at the shop. Chances are I would have been sent for a nap in an old uncomfortable chair, while dad, a shadow in the distance, was putting the last of the paper together.

Rarely was the newspaper late to press, but for certain it was never early. There were too many times to count where morning eased into night and finished the next day. He sure put his time in laying the foundation for what readers enjoy today.

A few weeks back, trapped in a time long ago, he would tell mom on the phone he had to work late. “David and I are finishing the paper; I’ll be home after 9.” Latterly, he couldn’t even manage to take a call.

Dad chose to pass after deadline on Tuesday late afternoon, October the 5th.

He would have found some humour in being late with his own obituary but there is no levity in this hour, just loneliness and sadness in the finality of it all. The office is so still, and the tick of that old clock is now overwhelmed by a symphony of dread and misery I find hard to stop. Just breathe, I keep telling myself. Breathe.

It is a feeling many friends have taken time to share in recent days. Their encouraging words reflect the learned experience passed generation to generation that such grief will pass. And when stronger I will share those words with others one-on-one – the secret to mourning is “it will take time.”

The very kind words from area politicians and a Senator no less, would have made him proud on one hand but a little uncomfortable as well. His generation tended to do the right thing, not to be recognized – but to do what is right because it is right, just, and good.

This past Saturday, a private family service was held. Setting aside all the public achievements and the kind words it was his granddaughter Brooke who put into words all that needed to be said: “I know that he touched the lives of many for simply just being a caring and thoughtful human being.” That he was.

As the last prayers were said graveside, the minister offered a chance for one last word or phrase and all I could come up with was “bye-bye.” Never one to get too serious about too much, he said to say “bye-bye” when I quizzed him years back on what his final thoughts on life might be to share. He just didn’t want to say that day.

Instead in a quiet moment on his last weekend, after his grandchildren left, each of whom he said good-bye to by name, he said “Thank everyone – for everything.” This was after talking about the great privilege we have living in Canada. Be thankful, he said. It was vintage dad at the 11th hour.

Bye-bye dad, my dear friend.

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Many people have asked about expressions of sympathy or which charity they can support in dad’s name. It was difficult to choose one or two from the many groups we support. Instead, for those so inclined – do as dad would do. Give some time to a service club, community activity or even a moment for someone in need of a friend.