Happy Thanksgiving to all

My father died on Oct. 12, 1974. It was the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.
The day was cold, a light skiff of snow lay on the ground, and my heart seemed to stop beating with his.
I’m not sure when my heart started beating again; I can’t remember. Didn’t notice when my breath returned to being automatic, and I didn’t have to concentrate on emptying and filling my lungs; or when my feet moved one ahead of the other on their own.
I would have curled up next to him on the floor, draped his arm over me, and gone wherever it was he was going, had it been possible; if that were an option.
But as we all learn, we have to carry on. We are obligated, without choice or discussion, despite our own will not to.
Living without my father seemed unthinkable, cruel, impossible, just absolutely too heart-breaking. I wasn’t ready at 19, wouldn’t have been ready at any age, to let him go.
That was 39 years ago and there still are days when I wonder how it is I have lived longer without him than with him. But I would not have traded those 19 years with my father for 60 years of anything else.
Being his “hired man” was a most perfect childhood.
A strange thing occurs this Oct. 12, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the same timing as 1974. I will climb aboard a WestJet flight and fly across this vast country of ours to Vancouver to be (or wait to be, depending upon the timing) a grandma.
The day to go was chosen purely in consideration of Aimee’s due date and available flights, but the coincidence is a lovely one. I will have many hours—due to the crazy size of this country—to compile my list of my favourite “dad stories;” to tuck away to share with this little man waiting to be born.
I will hold him, press my lips against his perfect new face, and whisper about his great-grandpa and the wonders of this man I called Dad, whom I adored, who was my very own personal hero.
I will tell my little man about my father’s patience; his paw-like hands that taught me to hold a hammer, taught me to drive a tractor, taught me to do anything any boy could do, taught me to be a farmer, taught me to give my best on any and every day.
I will tell my new little man about my dad’s blue eyes and his curly, curly hair that none of his 10 granddaughters have inherited. I will try to share all the bits and pieces of my dad that I honour with unending devotion.
And I will honour my father by trying to be the best version of myself; to be a safe place, despite the geographical distance, for my grandson to go by my love being a guarantee; a promise that won’t be broken.
And life will go on, just as it was meant to. But the world will be a little better for having someone, my grandson, to carry some of my father’s genetics of kindness, integrity, giver of the best hugs, who made his daughter feel loved every single day of her life.
It doesn’t get better than that. Lucky, lucky me. I am so very thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you.
wendistewart@live.ca

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