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Today would have been my father’s 78th birthday. Today is also the 13 year anniversary of his passing. Talk about full circle. He died on his birthday, when he was 65 – I secretly think he was playing one last joke on his friends by officially retiring  at the standard age of 65 – but he retired from life. 🙂

I was only 23 when he passed away and my parents had long since been divorced. Our relationship was on-again-off-again and somewhat strained, probably quite a bit during the angst-ridden teen years (lol). Near the end, he was very ill – he was a very heavy smoker for most of his life and was anywhere between 1 to 2 packs a day, as were most men of his generation I suppose. So it was no surprise that he had health issues (emphysema). He passed away during the winter of the ice storm in Montreal.

The qualities I remember the most are:

  • He was very smart. And witty. (I take after my dad :))
  • He was  a great athlete – he excelled at most sports he chose to play. Fastball, boxing, golf (although there were some golf-club-flinging-into-the-tree moments), softball, etc. He also enjoyed watching all kinds of sports on TV.
  • He enjoyed chess (he was the one who taught me how to play – I was about 10 – and I’ll always remember the game when I finally beat him – this was years later). We were both early risers and would often play chess at 6am.
  • He liked to play all kinds of games as does my mom and us kids too.
  • He enjoyed video games – he was ahead of his time! He would have loved the console games of today.
  • He was artistic and could draw very well.
  • Table manners and etiquette were a Very. Big. Deal.

The small things:

  • He loved his Tetley tea and anything else was inferior.
  • He would wear three-piece suits regularly.
  • His preferred cigarette brand was Vantage, which wasn’t available in very many places.
  • Shaving was a big production. Personal grooming in general was very important to him.
  • He loved black licorice.
  • He used to say Toodle-oo and tell my sister and I to be good Doo-Bees (I’m assuming from the show Romper Room).
  • He swore like a lumberjack. It’s amazing that us kids don’t chop wood for a living.
  • He sang Happy Birthday with such gusto.
  • He was an animal lover and he would spend hours training our pets to do things. Funny story: When we lived in Toronto, he used to go to the zoo regularly and visited the parrot. He trained the parrot to say “Hello Ted”. He would then bring clients and colleagues by and start talking to the parrot and they would flip out when the parrot welcomed him like an old friend. 🙂

All this to say that I was shopping for my husband Chris’ Valentine’s Day present and to stick to manly traditions, I bought a shaving brush, stand and cream. Chris had mentioned a few times in passing that he used to shave with a brush when he was younger and loved it. I have no idea why he stopped so I’m hoping he’ll be pleasantly surprised and will enjoy his gift. But it’s a surprise so don’t tell him. I remember my dad shaving with a brush and us girls sitting on the side of the tub watching him at the sink.

So, this post is dedicated to the men in our lives, past and present, and keeping traditions alive. 🙂

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