The Islander

Whenever I hear this song, I think of my father. Though it’s likely not really his preferred style of music (he liked old school country and some rock n roll), the mariner theme and feeling of the ocean always brought my mind to him.

He was one of few who, although never truly understanding me or my behaviours, was always loving and supportive, even if in “his own way”. I was in my late twenties when I was complaining to my mom how every time I talk to dad he just asks me about my car’s oil or the last time I had checked it. She told me that that was his way of telling me he loved me. He was so old school that coming out and saying the words were just not so easy for him as for others, so he showed his love in care and concern for the things he could help me with.

He taught me that “it never hurts to ask, the worst they can do is say no” – and that has stuck with me all my life. Because of those echoing words, I became a PAX Enforcer, have gotten good jobs across my career, and have enjoyed many different things throughout my life.

Going home last month was both wonderful and difficult at the same time. It had been over a year since dad had passed, so of course mom had moved most of his things that weren’t part of the house to other sources. He was there in a way, but not really. Mom had made it more her own space, and soon it would be my aunt’s space as well.

There were two times that hit me hard. The first was, while looking in a closet for a jacket to borrow, I found a hanger of dad’s old ties. Flashes of memories of events where he wore those ties flashed through me, and the tears came. The second time was when I went into his shop. So much hurt then. It was set up so much the way our old home in Maple Ridge was, and the smell itself brought back images of watching dad work on some engine or another, cursing up a storm. So much STUFF in that garage, from half broken boat engines and multiple chainsaws, to every nut/bolt/washer you could ever need. And mom wonders where I get my tendency to be a packrat from!

The overwhelming grief I felt in those months following dad’s death has mostly subsided to a low ache, only flaring up now and then when certain things may trigger a memory. But although it’s sad, it also holds a bit of joy, for remembering him and all the love he gave me helps ease that ache.

I’m still struggling to make my father proud. It’s kind of what I try to hold on to nowadays. Age plus circumstance took him from me before I could truly prove myself worthy of being his daughter. And although I’m in a great state of transition at the moment, I will honour him in whatever way I can. Even if it means having to come to terms with my own limitations.

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