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Hook & Ladder Truck – 1975

That’s my Daddy, at the top of that ladder, battling one of the largest and worst fires in my hometown. My Mom has admitted that in the 34 years he was a firefighter, despite all the calls in the middle of the night and on the stormiest days, that was the only time that she was really afraid for him. I was 2 years old and oblivious…

Even though this photograph makes him appear “larger than life”, my Dad is quiet and shy, with an amazing ability to fix just about anything (except maybe broken hearts). He isn’t the “snuggle & cuddle” type, but has patiently endured millions of hugs & kisses from me! But I have never doubted that he loves me.

He showed it in little ways:

Sometimes when he stopped at the store to get milk, he’d buy me gum.

He helped me finish my Grade 8 sewing project, and he took me for rides on his motorcycle.

When we had lunch at the fire station, he’d give me change to buy Dr. Pepper from the machine.

He’d clean the snow off my car in the mornings, and he helped me keep it running.

He let me drive his car while he drove mine that one week I had no muffler (and my car was embarrassingly loud)!

One year he was away for my birthday, but he called just to talk to me.

He took me to my first figure skating competition (a whole Friday night with whiny little girls in sparkly dresses) where I won my first medal, and he sat through my school play in Grade 6 (I can still do the “twist”).

He showed it in big ways:

I had my “baby bed buddy” with me when I was staying in the hospital with Big Guy after his first surgery. Unfortunately, the nurse scooped it up with the bedding when we were endlessly walking the halls. I called home that night (long distance) in tears. My dad found out where the laundry went and he contacted them. He told them his “little girl” had lost her bed buddy and they said they’d keep an eye out for it. They called the next day…and he picked it up, whiter than it had been in years! He was too embarrassed to mention that his “little girl”… was 18!

When I moved away from home, I couldn’t bring my cat, Mousie, with me so she stayed with my parents. The weekend I was home for my best friend’s funeral, I noticed how frail she had become. While I was at the funeral home, my Dad took Mousie to the vet. The vet wanted to put her down, but my Dad told him that his daughter “had already lost her best friend this weekend” and he didn’t want to take my other best friend away too. I don’t know how much he paid for medicine to keep her comfortable, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I found out why he had asked me, when it was time to go back to the city, if I had said good-bye. He knew she was dying…and according to Mom, Dad was the one who pampered her the most in her last days.

Sometimes he drove me crazy, like when he taught me how to drive and we spent, what seemed like an eternity, driving around the empty grocery store parking lot. And he hurt my feelings when walking home from figure skating, he didn’t want to walk arm in arm to “practice for my wedding” (Mom explained later that he didn’t want to think about his little girl growing up)!

And then there was that one time on that ladder truck, the same one from the photograph. Dad told me to climb half-way up. Then, as the ladder was raised into the air, I could feel the warmth of his body behind me, the breeze moving my hair, and rooftops as far as I could see. It was amazing!!

Thanks Dad, for loving me in big ways and small ways…and in more ways than I have space to write. Happy Father’s Day!

Hugs & kisses.

*Jenn

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