It is almost October 12th. The 12th is important to me because it was the day my dad was born. We don’t get to celebrate in the same kind of way anymore because my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 3rd, 2008. The grief has changed since that time, though it admittedly never goes away. A wise counsellor once said to me, “you don’t get over it, you make your way through it”. The truth of that rings in my ears every time I am hit by a wave of grief, often when I least expect it. Sometimes it is a smell or a look that seems familiar in my Cate’s face or seeing the kind of car he drove go by. I can’t even watch golf on TV without thinking of him.
I’ve mentioned my Dad in my writing here. I often wonder what he would have thought of this venture of mine. I suspect he would have quietly read everything, maybe only occasionally alluding to the fact that he had. I imagine that I would somehow, deep inside, know he was proud of me. Or that’s my hope.
In honour of him, here is the eulogy I spoke the first week he was gone.
To me and Logan, Barry was simply Dad. I want to honour him today by remembering the way our lives were entwined with his. Without him we would not be here today. I have so many memories, and am aware that this is a feeble attempt to capture but a few.
Dad was a man with many sides. He carried himself with confidence and yet could be very shy. He loved fine food and was an absolute gourmet, but at the same time could crave grilled cheese (made with white bread and cheese slices), a tall glass of chocolate milk and red jello. He was as happy wandering the streets of Italy as he was sitting on a rustic dock in Northern Ontario. Dad in many ways was a dichotomy.
Dad loved to read. He got through about eight books in less than a week at a cottage we vacationed at as a family a few summers ago. He looked happy as he went from hammock to lawn chair to dock, always with a book in his hand. I think it also made him happy that we were all buzzing around him as he did this. He liked being with his family.
When Dad inherited his childhood home on Parker Avenue, he decided to transform it into the house he had always wanted. He, along with Susan, made what I like to call, a “party house”. The house is made for entertaining, something Dad loved to do. He was always in his element when cooking in the beautiful kitchen. He could position himself right in the centre of all the action, while preparing interesting, delicious food. I think he took a great deal of pride in his self-taught culinary prowess.
Christmas Eve was always the piece de resistance for Dad. He took great pains to plan the perfect menu (always printed just so and posted on the wall) and find the perfect gift for everyone in attendance (even if he didn’t know them well). He wrapped everything meticulously. He used a ruler.
It is this attention to detail that made Dad the kind of person who was always sure to take a bottle of wine to both his butcher and his mechanic (among others) every Christmas. Dad’s wife Susan has mentioned this frequently over the last few days, that he was the only person she knew who did this. He noticed people, was respectful of their work, and truly cared about getting to know them. Dad had a very generous spirit.
Dad also loved his new children by marriage: my husband Dion and Logan’s wife Amanda. I will always remember how he enfolded them more and more, year by year. When my daughter Cate was born, Dad became “GB” (short for Grandpa Barry). He loved being GB- more than I ever thought possible. He even began signing GB on birthday cards to me…a mistake he never noticed until I pointed it out. It was like he had a whole new role in life. I will cherish the memories of him playing with Cate on his lap, making her “special food” (the hamburgers and French fries and bacon and French toast that he knew she desired), rubbing her back when she was sad and even playing the occasional game of Buckaroo. I am truly sorry that Dad will never get to meet the child that Logan and Amanda are about to have.
Dad had a great laugh. If he found something funny, his laugh would be contagious. And he could be funny too. He could tell a mean joke when he wanted to. We have laughed this week about how he referred to his hair as “executive blonde”. Only Dad would get away with saying “I’m not going gray, I’m going blonde”.
Dad, thank you for remaining faithful to us even though we didn’t get to grow up in the same house, for supporting Mom (Elaine) the best way you knew how, for listening to me whenever I got my heart broken, for allowing Logan to work for you and learn the business, for growing to respect the work that Dion and I do close to the streets, for always teasing Amanda, for being at all of Cate’s birthday parties, and for loving Susan.
I am so glad that Cate had a last sleepover with both her GB and GG just two Saturdays ago, and that we had our monthly family night- a fun time watching the Oscar’s. I think it is fitting that Dad won the Oscar pool and gained bragging rights. He would never have let us forget that, and now fittingly, we truly never will.
You were loved Dad.