I can hear Dad’s voice now….’I think I’ll go for a walk…I feel happy…I feel happy’
This man that raised me had the most amazing sense of humour. We got jokes that no one else did. I could say a line from one of our favourite movies…and he could easily rhyme off the next.
Our bond was something that others envied. It was more than Father and Daughter. He was my Friend. Dad was one of my best friends.
One of our favourite movies to watch and quote were the Monty Python films. Those of you who are fans will understand the first line above. This is what Dad said to me during my visit to him in the hospital.
I could pick up the phone and he would know by the way I said ‘hello’ what kind of day I was having, whether I needed an ear, a hug…or a joke. And he could never pretend to be doing OK with me either.
Twenty years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors gave him six weeks to live. My Mother was also diagnosed within two weeks of him. A year and a half later, she was gone. We helped each other through that. He never forgave himself for being the one that survived. And he never stopped missing her.
For the next twenty years, Dad has had so many near brushes with death. Heart attack, stroke, angina, diabetes, an horrific car accident, concussions, alcoholism, depression. Every time he came to visit me in Ontario, he always said he might never see me again. I had said goodbye to him so many times over the years that it became commonplace to feel, ‘this could be the last time’. But I think it began to desensitize me. I thought to myself ..’I’ve said goodbye to him so many times…this will be easy when it finally happens. I will be ready.’
But I knew that wasn’t true. We were so close that I was terrified of losing him. It would be like losing an extension of myself.
Three months ago, Dad called me to say he had pneumonia in his lungs. And that the doctors said they could not help him. Was this another false goodbye? Would I really lose him this time? I never thought so. But I did cry.
‘I need you to be a big girl right now.’
That was what got me. He spoke to me like a was a little girl again. His little Jaynie.
I told him I was afraid. Afraid of losing him…yes. But most afraid that I wouldn’t know when it happened. Out of seven of my siblings, there is only one that keep in touch with me. But he is up here in Ontario as well. And another thing I told him, was that there were special things…things I had given him over the years. Things my children had made for him and given to him. I wanted to be able to hang on to those items…to keep him close to us.
He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.
Mel Moir was an amazing man. The funniest man I’ve ever known. A wonderful Father, warm and loving Grandfather. A genius when it came to mechanics, be it of a car or electronic nature. He was loved and respected by many people. The first 28 years of my life I lived in Fredericton. And every place I ever went to where I had to give my name, the response was always, ‘Oh! Your Mel Moir’s daughter?’
Even at his funeral there were men coming up to me and saying, ‘I used to drag race against your Father years ago…I never could beat the bugger.’
But they came.
I feel sorry for anyone that did not know my Father. And even more sorry for those that knew him and did not respect him.
People that did not know him, the real him…. that would not come to visit him, or pick up the phone to call him…went through his private belongings and took what they desired, discarding or destroying things they did not. Personal photos of myself and my children were already gone when I got there. Brand new items that we had given him for his last birthday and Christmas were also missing.
One person in particular admitted to burning precious items that linked my Father to my Mother…items that I would have cherished. Dad had received a cast of his newest baby grandson’s hand and foot prints for Christmas. These were found in the bottom of a garbage bag.
I will never understand the level of cruelty that must exist in order for these circumstances to have occurred. But it has made me grateful that I am no longer a part of ‘their world’.
I have been told that I need to forgive them for what they have done. And I will….for my Father’s sake, my children’s sake…and my own.
There are people that have criticized me for the book that I have written. Even though they have not read it. But I realize now that it is out of fear. I have written about my life and things that have happened to me. Anyone that has ever hurt me would not want it written about or known. This is what writers do. They write about what they know. What they have experienced.
I have a right to speak my truth.
They can not take that from me.
There is one more thing they will not be able to take from me. And that is my Dad. My memories of our life together. And every part of my heart that bears his fingerprints.
The last night I spent with Dad, he was cold. So I crawled into bed with him. I wrapped my body around his to keep him warm, rubbing my hand over his arm and forehead.
He started to sing, ‘Soft Kitty’.
It broke my heart to hear it then. But I started to sing with him…and I continued long after he stopped. And I stayed there with him until he fell asleep.
That is something that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. Something that no one else will ever have.
And it saddens me that so many others will never know a love this strong