With my father, there was never a dull moment.
He was a doctor. This meant flu shots for dessert after every thanksgiving dinner.
During Hurricane Hazel, he canoed down Woodbridge Avenue, rescuing people who sought refuge from the flood on the rooves of their houses.
He was awakened numerous times in the middle of the night to make a house-call; he probably delivered half the people in Thistletown (near Rexdale) born between 1952 and 1989.
I kid you not, being with my father was like watching a James Bond movie unfold before my very eyes, as he managed, by the grace of God, to survive the following in no particular order: He flipped his car upside down in a ravine; almost bled to death during a canoe trip across the North West Territories in the summer of 1969 (he was flown to Winnipeg and when my mom went to be at his side, she was greeted at the hospital by a priest!); fell 25 ft off a ladder twice; dropped from a 15-ft monument in France while suffering a heart-attack; almost drowned twice while scuba-diving; slipped backward off a second story balcony at a hotel in the Bahamas, landed in a palm tree, got up, brushed himself off and went back to the party; flipped forward over a second floor railing at Lake Louise, this time landing on a table, set his bed on fire after falling asleep with a lit cigarette while in residence at Wyclyffe College in Toronto; wiped-out big time while skiing a glacier in Chamonix, France and almost rolled into a crevasse and on another occasion, after a head-on crash with a big truck, he climbed out of his totally demolished car and went over to make sure the other guy was okay!
Indeed, he wasn't worried about himself as much as he was for the rest of us.
When I was 6 a boat landed on top of me and broke my leg in 4 places. Dad took me down to Humber Memorial and fixed it.
At age 9, I fell down a set of cobblestone stairs during a '72 Summit Series party and cracked my head open--he took me to his office, sewed up the wound then took me to McDonald's for a hamburger.
12 years old, I got hit in the head with a huge rock during a mud fight. Blood all over the place. Dad took me down to the office and sewed me up then, too.
13, another head wound---down to the office.
At 14, I put my foot through the glass door of the shower--ripped a major artery in half--it was like a scene out of M*A*S*H...yup, dad sewed that one up, too.
Late teens/early twenties....I better not get into that one...but yeah...down to the office.
He had a natural, sincere concern for the well-being of other people. When crisis struck, he leaped into action with contagious confidence which gave those around him a calm, believable reassurance.
Once during a huge, midnight lightening storm while camping in Algonquin Park, he braved the elements to check each of our tents to make sure we were all okay.
At dinner parties people would come to him with one ailment or another, which he would tend to right in the middle of cocktail hour, if necessary. It wasn't just physical ailments; together with my mom he would welcome friends and acquaintences going through some sort of emotional or marital turmoil into the house to stay for months until they were back on their feet. In later years, when my parents moved to the Blue Mountains, my dad continued to teach downhill skiing every Saturday until he was into his seventies. Then on Sundays he helped people through healing ministry at the church.
But I think the best thing of all went something like this:....during long car trips together we'd talk, joke, laugh. Then he would pat me on the knee and say, "Love ya boy".
He showed up.
Now, it's me and my boy, Josh and my daughter Amanda; and all the same great blessings of fatherhood...except for the doctor-thing...oh, and the falling-down-the-crevasse-thing.
Love ya, dad.