I was walking back from the library just now. It was hot and muggy and I had spent an hour and half trying to write something for this page in total frustration. Oh, I wrote words but none of which were worthy of your reading. Then, as I was waiting to cross Spadina, these two guys on little motorcycles roared up behind me, gunning their motors and when the light changed, they sped through the crowd and up on the other sidewalk. I yelled at them, “Those bloody things don’t belong on the sidewalk.” They, of course, just laughed at me as they roared their little engines louder.
As I walked the four blocks home, I was thinking about my Dad and what he would have done. Yes, all of those stories on radio and TV and the ads for men’s shirts from the Bay to “Don’t Forget Dad,” had their effect on me. They seeped into my subconscious and here I was thinking, “What would Dad have done?” It brought up one of my earliest memories of
my Dad. We were walking back from St. James down the long stretch of Oakland Park and then the longer stretch of Cleveland Avenue — not an easy trip on little legs. As we passed people on the sidewalk, my dad would say, “Good morning.” I’d look up at him and ask, “Who was that?” He’d say, I don’t know. In my little mind, I thought it strange that he would talk to people he didn’t know and that these strangers would say good morning back at him. I obviously forget sometimes the lessons the my Dad taught me that day: (1) acknowledge folks when you pass them on the street and (2) remember, what you give out is what you get back.
It’s unfortunate that I didn’t learn those sidewalk lessons well. But, what I did learn from him and my mom and my siblings, is how to keep a good, kind heart. It took me a long time to appreciate what they gave me.
I found a letter the other day that I had forgotten I had. Maybe it, too, crept out of the box and into my consciousness because of Father’s Day. My dad wrote to me in 1987. He didn’t write many letters which may be why he started this one with the line, “Hello, Ann greetings to you from Dad.” I figured he wanted to make sure I’d get it clear who it was from. Its two pages are full of home news and questions about my cat and my friends he had met and my mom baking Christmas cookies. At the end he closed it with a version of the words he said to us every night when we were in our beds and he’d come to the door and sprinkle holy water and say, “May the Good Lord Bless & Keep You.” It’s a sweet way to remember my Dad today.