A Special Father’s Day Note

June 11, 2012 § 5 Comments

We’re approaching that day on the calendar when we honour Dads. My own father has been gone for 23 years now but I still think of him. Actually, a lot lately. You see, he would have been 90 on June 2.

He was also on my mind again a few days later when someone at work asked me to describe, in a few words, someone I admire. I immediately thought of my Dad. He was a salt-of-the-earth type you would want to model yourself after.

Bob Olinger Sr. was that go-to kind of guy if you needed advice. He was generous, a hard worker who devoted his life to making a living and making sure he left something behind for his family, loyal and dependable, and just an all-round decent man.

I think most people he knew him would see a likeness in me – except that Dad managed to maintain his jet black hair right up to the end where I am getting balder by the day and the few tresses I have left are what I refer to as Arctic Blond (grey).

Looking back, I find it interesting that Dad loved to read and recite poetry. That form of writing has never really appealed to me. There is a commonality, though. I’m known for using song lyrics to articulate ideas and feelings.

I can’t hear the Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics without thinking of Dad.

I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Like singer Mike Rutherford, my own son, Peter, was born the same year as my father died.

What could I have told Dad if he’d been around for his 90th birthday or if I could look to the heavens and speak with him?

I’m a writer, perhaps a poet in a certain way, so a note might work best:

Dear Dad;

It’s been a while since we’ve chatted. I’m glad you’re in a comfortable place among the angels. I would rather you’d have stayed among us longer.

You were just learning how to enjoy yourself, leaving us just after attending your first NHL game. One of the great passions we shared was hockey and a love for the Montreal Canadiens. It seems the Habs have missed your cheering for them. They’ve only won the Cup once since you left.

I never told you how much I appreciated that you were always there for me, mostly by phone and letters. Somehow, we just didn’t manage to get together a lot in your later years, though I know you planned to visit when Peter was born.

I’m grateful you passed along your work ethic, though I’ve managed to become less of a workaholic than you by taking in a lot of concerts and sporting events, including seeing a Canadiens’ home game. There’s no doubt you could have been less of a workaholic – though attending your retirement dinner I know how much you savoured your employment – had you been able to enjoy a better home life.

In truth, we no doubt would have connected more in the later years had it not been for that. You’ll be delighted to know that I recently celebrated 26 years of happy marriage to Joyce and Peter is now 23.

You taught me to be passionate about much more than hockey, to care about others. I took on your political leanings and have invested a lot of spare time in volunteering.

You were non-confrontational. I’ve inherited that though you did teach me to stand up for what I believe in. You were bound by religious convictions. I am more of a spiritual person.

You enjoyed a few close friendships. Same here. You relished a good rousing debate. Me, too.

I have turned out a bit different from you. You spent much of your work life with the Department of Highways whereas my career has seen me in a progression of roles within the communications field across the country. You played it safe whereas I found myself expanding my horizons.

Of course, it helped that you left some inheritance. In the end, I would have liked to have had less flexibility in exchange for more time with you.

A couple of things I wish you hadn’t passed along are diabetes and your cataracts. On the other hand, these provide a constant reminder that as much as we can plan for the future, living in the moment is important.

I’m constantly striving for balance in all things.

Speaking of which, Dad, I have to go. I’m combining attendance at a conference with a vacation on Vancouver Island.

I think of you often.




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§ 5 Responses to A Special Father’s Day Note

  • A lovelty tribute to your father, David. He knows.

  • Jody Kettyle says:

    Very touching and loving letter to your father . I am sure he is very proud of you. You made me remember to tell my dad that I love him while I still have the opportunity.

  • Lovely post, David. It’s always so heartbreaking when we are denied the opportunity to share our parenting selves with our own parents. If they’ve done anything right as parents, that’s the time we usually recognize it and want to let them know. Thanks for sharing.

  • Marla says:

    Very nice post, It is a good reminder to not take for granted the time we have with our loved ones. My dad is 81 and this has reminded me to tell him how much I love and appreciate him.

  • Erin Stashko says:

    As I was reading this heartfelt blog that is also directly addressed to your father (bless his soul), I couldn’t help but notice the common theme addressed in this article – time – and spending it with our loved ones, is immeasurable. You can not put a price on time.

    This entire piece you wrote, David, fits into my life’s mantra, taken from the late actor Andy Whitfield: “Be Here Now.” We can spend our lives trying to reach and maintain goals, sometimes raising the bar when we achieve the original goal. Essentially, every. single. moment. in time is precious and so quickly lost, slipping away.

    This is where ‘Be Here Now’ never fails. A person lives in moments pieced together where, in that moment, they can determine what will happen, how they will respond, and – who they will spend their moments with.

    I am positive that your points in your letter to your father were well received and that there is a bigger part of peace for you when you think of him now. The open letter from you was written with a great deal of respect, and that clearly demonstrates the personality traits of your dad, which extend through to you.

    I enjoyed reading that. You are not averse to writing right from the heart!

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