Photo- My father and I in Winnipeg 1972.
I'm thinking about my father Keith today on what would have been his 78th birthday, sadly he only saw 43 birthdays but he managed to live a lot of life in those years that's for sure. My father was a very kind, clever, funny and warm man. He had a gift with people, he understood human nature very well. My father was popular and he was fascinated by people, he was really interested in what made them tick. We had so many good times together for the 14 years that I knew him. I think back to our very last Christmas together, we drove to Florida and stayed in some condos. Michael Jackson was all the rage then (1983) and my father bought me a ghetto blaster, Thriller, and the Police's Synchronicity album. I recall it all so vividly. I remember I bought him a set of joke books, but unbeknownst to me, a large majority of them were quite dirty! I was so embarrassed by this when I started flipping through them after he'd opened his gift but he just laughed.
My father had high hopes for me. When I was young he was always suggesting (read brainwashing) to me that I should become a lawyer when I grew up. Whilst I did have an interest in criminal law in university, being a lawyer was never something I envisioned for myself. My dream was to become a psychologist. I was addicted to The Bob Newhart show, in the 1970s, Bob played a psychiatrist. I did study psychology in university and hoped to get my PhD, it was a subject I understood very well but unfortunately life circumstances, money and time all got in the way, as is the case with so many people.
My father loved to play games with me and he practised magic tricks as well and would often play the magician at my birthday parties. When I was about six, I remember so clearly the card game he would play with me at bedtime, he called it 'Bedtime for Bonzo' (After the movie I presume! Was I Bonzo the chimp? Apparently so!) He would lay out four cards and if I turned over a particular card, it was time for me to go to bed. I always turned over that darn card! And then we'd both say in unison 'Bed time for Bonzo!' It was a magic trick that he was able to keep on tricking me with night after night.
As I got older the games turned into, 'Kimmy, watch the news tonight and then I'll quiz you on various stories, if you get the answers right you'll be awarded a prize'. This was a short lived game, I didn't have very much interest in the news back in those days, to his disappointment I think. When I was nine my father lost his job working for one of Canada's Prime Ministers. He was unemployed for a quite a stretch before securing a new job at the House of Commons. I recall going to that office, it had a TV with a remote control (!!) This was a big deal in the early 80's! I know that the time he was unemployed was stressful but I remember the fun times my dad and I had. Often at lunchtime he would go to the drive-thru and bring home a Burger King meal for both of us. Still to this day the smell of Burger King makes me think of my dad (weird I know) We also used to love watching game shows together like The Price Is Right.
The summer my father became really ill was the same year as my graduation from grade 8. I remember my father dragging himself to my graduation and standing at the back just so that he could see me get my diploma and then having to leave immediately after as he was too ill to stay any longer. That was the kind of person he was. I feel lucky for the time that I had with him, I have so many fond and truly wonderful memories. I am very grateful I had such a kind and loving father who adored me. I hope that he would be proud of me now, I often reflect on this and think that he probably would be even though I never did become that lawyer he so badly wanted me to become.