Sunday, June 21, 2015

Deal Me In Daddy, Deal Me In.

My grieving heart found solace this Father's Day in having a great family breakfast with my husband, my sons and my son-in-law, and grandson and all my girls. heart emoticon
If you missed my Dad's funeral service and would like to read the eulogy here it is:



(imagine me standing there with my left hand raised, two middle finger folded down) 
My dad had the coolest hand. As a child, you either found it completely fascinating to play with or it scared the shit out of you. His personality was much the same. 
Edward Bruce deBalinhard was known as Ted from his birth in Yorkton Saskatchewan in 1940 until he married Jean Cutting in 1962 and they gave birth to their first born son, also named Edward deBalinhard, at which time they became known as Big Ted and Teddy. Eventually Little Ted became bigger than Big Ted and Big Ted became Ed. 
But whether you knew my dad as Ted or Ed, you knew him as a good man. A no-frills man, who loved God, lived simply and knew right from wrong. And he expected the same from everyone else.
He lived by the rule that if something needed done, you did it. And you did it now.
And this applied to everything from his child rearing tactics, his job, car maintenance, household tasks to acts of service for someone in need. 
As children when we were sent to bed, we went to bed. And we went to sleep. For most of our young childhood, we three oldest kids shared a room. Many times we heard, “If I hear one more noise, all three of you get a spanking.” And we did. 
Since it was usually Ted and Connie talking, I learned quickly to become the best fake sleeper ever. And it still serves me well. 
I remember one night Connie, who was younger, tried the same trick and when dad came in the room to deal with us, she quickly closed her eyes and said, “I’m asleep.” And while we never actually heard Dad laugh, no spankings were handed out that night. 
Chances are, if you knew my dad, you have been on the receiving end of some sort of act of service (and I encourage you to share those experiences with each other and our family) And chances are, you’ve never been allowed to reciprocate the act of service. While very giving of his time and energy, Dad was also very proud and independent, even stubborn, and he’d rather do without than accept offers of help from others. 
Dad’s doing-what’s-right character had him taking a second job working as a guard at the jail when we lived in Fernie. He loved and respected the police force and almost considered himself one of the boys in blue. And unfortunately for him, so did some of the inmates he stood guard over. 
He woke up one morning to find his car completely spray painted with profanity and words like “pig”. To this day, I think he was secretly proud to be counted among them and have his car vandalized in such a way. 
My dad loved to garden. For the first dozen years of his marriage a garden was a necessary means of keeping his family fed. But when they lived in Prince George he began to garden as a hobby. A big hobby. And we adult kids and the neighbours reaped the benefits of his labour.
After his retirement and they moved from Kelowna to Kamloops Dad began to garden full time, seemingly forgetting that he and mom were only two people. And again, we kids reaped the benefits of his labour as he begged us to take home boxes of vegetables each time we’d visit. And for those family members here in Kamloops, stopping for a visit was like a quick trip to the grocery store. 
Each year he’d threaten to reduce the garden size and his workload, but he never did, even in these last couple of years when he lived alone. 
My dad was a list maker. Amongst his things we found pages listing every vehicle he ever owned. He hadn’t yet updated the list to include his new truck he drove for less than two weeks. The list totalled 26. The boys think there were more.
There was a list of every job he ever had. There were 34 employers who were lucky enough to have my dad as an employee.
He listed every house he has lived in since he left home in Yorkton. I think he missed a couple. They totalled 31.
26 vehicles. 34 jobs. 31 homes. Yes, Daniel, you are a chip off the ol’ block. 
While Dad was very handy at doing all sorts of “boy” jobs, he wasn’t all that experienced at jobs that fell into the “Mom” category. Although I do remember him and some guy we knew as “Pineapple Fred” watching us four kids while Mom was away having our youngest sister Jennifer. I’ll never forget how amazed I was when he baked bread from scratch. We were especially impressed when he added blue food colouring to the dough. 
It’s not that he was incapable of doing the “mom” jobs – he proved that he was capable of running a household, cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, banking and a host of other jobs after we lost mom 2 years ago. It’s just that during their 50 year marriage, Dad and Mom had worked out their roles and responsibilities and they served each other happily and without complaining or grudge holding. 
I don’t think there’s a marriage today that couldn’t learn something from their total commitment and joy of serving one another.
My mom didn’t need to cut the grass or fuel her car and my dad did not need to cook, remember birthdays or spend much time on the phone. 
My dad wasn’t into phone use for the most part. I remember he’d get us kids to phone and see if so-and-so was home. Or “phone this number and see how much they want” for some item he’d found in the classifieds. 
Often if he answered when we phoned and started telling him about some goings on in our family, he’d cut us short and say, “Here’s your mother.” Getting the story and counselling the family was a Mom job. 
I don’t recall him ever signing a birthday card or phoning just to see how the kids were doing.
That is, until March 2013 when we lost Mom. And at that point what we witnessed was truly an incredible blessing. 
My father, a strong, stoic, faithful man lost half of himself. Yet in his brokenness, he accepted his circumstances and bravely faced each day, never wavering in his faith in Jesus. 
The learning curve this man in his 70’s took on is amazing. After 50 years of having their separate roles, he embraced both roles. He learned to cook. He learned to bank. He learned to use a computer. He even learned to bank using a computer. He figured out the iPad and FaceTime became his preferred method of communication – perhaps stemming from his anti-phone days. 
My dad, who was never the emotional or gushy type, became both “Great grandpa and Great grandma” to his six great grandchildren.
Mom had frames displaying photos of “the greats” and she would regularly update them as the kids grew and changed. Dad would have none of that. He couldn’t bring himself to cover up the old photos and the memories they evoked, so he simply purchased new frames for the updated photos and added them to the collection he proudly displayed. 
Last year when Baby Beatrice was born – his first “great” here in Kamloops, there was renewed spark and joy to his days. And I can promise you the majority of the kilometers on his vehicle in the past 10 months were a direct path between his house and hers. 
Even in his final days, when he had limited communication, his face lit up when I showed him pictures of the great-grands on my phone. There were days when he was fairly unresponsive to his visitors - until Baby Bea arrived on the scene. My heart will be forever blessed by the burst of energy, joy and love I witnessed between my granddaughter and my father. It was almost emotional and gushy. 
Even in my dad’s final couple of more emotionally vulnerable years he still held fast to his no-frills, matter-of-fact kinda character that helped him get through many rough times, hardships and failures. I think if I had to narrow down the greatest thing I learned from my dad, it’s “yesterday’s shoulda woulda couldas cannot change today’s facts.” It is what it is, so there is no sense living with regret or complaining. Life is not fair. It never has been. It never will be. Just pick up the hand you’ve been dealt and play your cards. 
Deal me in, Daddy. Deal me in.

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