Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my dad's passing. It happened on a Friday night, two days after he'd collapsed in a sushi restaurant, a result of hemorrhagic stroke linked to fourth-stage lung and brain cancer. He was a non-smoker and a marathon runner. We were mystified and devastated and heartbroken.
When I came back from Calgary, my place of birth, a little more than a week after he died, the holidays were in full swing. It all seemed so crass. Strings of Christmas lights on our neighbour's houses assaulted my eyes. The holiday music in stores - not to mention the sequined party dresses - offended me deeply. But I put on my big-girl shoes and marched back to work, ever-productive first-born daughter that I am.
Today I'm thinking about the aspects of his parenting that I want to emulate. The way he encouraged our curiosity (see cow eyeball anecdote), answered all our questions, taught me to be brave in the dark. The way he'd walk along the top of the white wooden fence that corralled the horses and say, "Can YOU do this? Come on, try it!" The way he encouraged us to laugh without embarrassment and aspire to anything, and how he'd patiently explain our math homework. I happily remember his endurance for living-room gymnastics. The way he could recall a few lyrics from every song he'd heard (a useless but fun party trick I have somehow inherited), and how he'd sing them to make us laugh when we were taking things too seriously. The way his own parents had taught him to dance or even drink a cup of coffee (which he hated) to be polite, just because they were important social skills. His love of getting elbow-deep in chocolate cheesecake batter, or making traditional Norwegian lefsa before Christmas with his wife and four sisters.
He loved to hear about the funny things Cameron would say. He never got a chance to know Alister, now two, in his new-talking stage, but he would have adored hearing him ask about a day-time moon and say, "I go moon now?"
Maybe someday, kiddo, he would have said. Maybe someday.