An unauthorized biography

If I was able to write anyone’s biography, it would be tempting to seek out Harper Lee and find out the little details of her very short but amazing writing career.
I’d like to ask Nelson Mandela how he kept positive while he was confined in prison and bumping up against the absence of humanity. I would ask the Dalai Lama about his smile.
I easily could fill a book on how my daughters amaze me, but then you might shake your heads and wince.
So I won’t make you roll your eyes, but instead I shall write an unauthorized biography of a man that I admire tremendously, and have admired since he was a youngster, even though he repeatedly—while claiming it was an accident—hung up the telephone when I called his mother for our “dailies” (the pseudonym for our chats of world problem-solving and other hilarious nonsense).
Let’s call this man Jeff Currie.
There are many reasons why Jeff comes to mind in the biography department, but the first is a chain of events. My daughter, Aimee, is an amazing teacher. No, that’s not just mother-gush. She comes by her talent naturally, genetically pre-disposed to changing the lives of her students as my mother did—a quality all its own that skipped a generation because I would struggle to teach a fish to swim.
But I digress.
Aimee had a Grade 1 class this past year in a Vancouver school where poverty is often the norm. The week preceding Father’s Day, Aimee’s class was preparing a gift to take home and present to their respective fathers.
However, the task came with a burden and one that left Aimee fuming and wanting to scream at the top of her lungs, and deciding next year she would not obligate her students to reward their fathers when these fathers hadn’t earned even a hint of respect.
My response to her dilemma was to invite Jeff Currie to a special class where the fathers of her students would be obligated to attend. Jeff would tell them how to be a good father because he is one of the best fathers I have encountered.
Jeff would raise his shoulders and look confused if I was to share my assessment of him, hence why this is an unauthorized biography. He is one of those pure fathers; one whose love and example are honest and innate, where the ordinary everyday actions shine with incredible brightness.
How did Jeff earn this ranking with me? Simple. Jeff invites his children to giggle, to be honest when they are angry, to be free, to be unique, and to burp at the table if a burp bubbles up with a mind of its own.
Jeff’s children are welcome to share a secret; they know it is safe and he encourages them to be human.
Jeff listens and gives his children the best parts of himself. He has dance parties with them where laughing is contagious. Jeff also lets them know it is okay to be afraid and sad, and to send little notes down the stairs on the end of a string that say they are annoyed with rules.
When five-year-old Jackson was concerned about his “scrotum shriveling,” Jeff told him not to worry. “It’s okay, bud, they all do that,” Jeff said.
Jackson couldn’t help but be relieved ’cause, as Jackson says, “Whew, Dad. A guy’s gotta know this stuff.”
If the students in Aimee’s class called Jeff dad, then they wouldn’t have sat at their desks struggling to think of a single time when their fathers showed them kindness or truth or love. They would have dug in with eagerness, trying very hard to separate out the best stories from a long, long list.
If Jeff was the father in all these homes, then I am quite certain many of the world’s problems would be solved.
And I could drift off to sleep, knowing the world was in good hands.
wendistewart@live.ca

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