**** This is an old blog that I have brought back in honour of Jeff’s bday. So, Happy Bday, big guy. You aren’t forgotten.****
So I’m sitting here trying to write about my Dad … and it’s not going well. I’ve tried looking at every source of inspiration possible – my kids, other blogs, funny dad quotes … and nothing. I’m finding it a little frustrating because it’s not like I don’t have lots to say about the guy. Trust me, I could talk about him for hours; it’s just not flowing nicely into the written word tonight. And it wasn’t yesterday or the day before that either.
I suppose it’s not something I should be stressing over; I mean, if it’s not working, it’s not working, there are many other things I could write about, but I feel like I owe him this. After all, I’ve written plenty about my mom and lots about my kids; I think he would be a little insulted that I haven’t written about him too. Of course, that is if dead people feel insulted, which I’m not sure they do.
Anyway, I want to write about him because a) he was an incredibly inspirational part of my life. He is why I have road rage and love Bob Seger and Yorkshire puddings. And b) because the tenth anniversary of his death just passed, and I feel I need to commemorate that somehow.
For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to know my Dad (Jeff), he was an avid hockey fan (Canucks), crossword master, lover of jokes (particularly ‘Little Johnny’ jokes), and the ultimate tough guy. He was the type of Dad that always had his arms and ears open to my friends, and he was a fantastic cook. He didn’t have a vast menu of things that he made, but the things he did make were delicious!
Among his most popular dishes were his caesar salad and his prime rib. He loved cooking a roast dinner (complete with fixings) and beaming with pride when every morsel went. There was never a scrap to spare because it was so yummy … and also because he never made enough. This may be a British trait because he’s not the only Brit I know that makes just enough to fill you, but barely enough for seconds, and certainly not enough for leftovers. I’ve never been able to understand it. Is it because they are frugal? Or perhaps because they like the self-esteem boost of watching everyone lick their plates clean? Not a roast dinner went by that good ol’ Jeff didn’t look around at everyone’s empty plates and longing eyes, chuckle with pride and say, “Well, guess I could have made more, eh?”
“Yes, you could have made more! For the love of God, I’ve been saying that for 16 years! Make more! This stuff’s delicious!”
I miss that routine.
Another thing that I loved about Jeff is that although he was ‘tough as nails’ (one of the things I was most proud of as a child was that ‘my dad could definitely beat up your dad!’) … he was also a huge softy. He would often get tears in his eyes when he saw I was crying; he would always hug and ferociously defend my friends when they were upset. And he even got so worried when he found out I was (very unexpectedly) pregnant with my first child that he vomited (just a touch of the flu, he muttered). He cared so deeply about those in his circle, he was always willing to listen, and he was very forgiving … unless you were driving on the same stretch of road as him at the same time.
I have yet to meet someone with more severe road rage in my entire life. It didn’t matter what you did as another driver on the road; you did it fucking wrong. And too slowly.
Truth be told, Jeff could actually be a HUGE grump. I say that with love. My friend Danny said it best when he got up to speak at his funeral and started his speech with, “When I first met Jeff, I thought he was the most ornery, cantankerous, old so-and-so I’d ever met!”
And it was true.
Most of my friends were a little scared when they first met him, although that didn’t last long. It was the little things that bugged him … Heaven forbid there be any noise (like breathing) while he was doing his crosswords in the morning or watching his beloved hockey at night. God help you if you clinked a glass too loudly or drank any of his drink mixes. You never knew what would set him off, but one thing you could count on was the reaction you would get a ‘tsk,’ a dirty look, a dramatic sigh, and a ‘Jesus Christ!’ (not necessarily in that order).
The weird thing is, I swear I miss that stuff as much as I miss the rest. I miss the road rage (which, although we are not biologically related, I seem to have inherited), and I miss his crankiness. I miss the ‘tsks’ and the colorful language (which I have also inherited).
I miss it all.
For those of you that never knew him and just heard my stories, you missed out. The stories don’t do him justice. He was one of the kindest, funniest old farts you could ever meet. (He would appreciate that I just called him an old fart).
He was one of my absolute favorite people. Still is.
So, Jeff, thanks again for everything. Thanks for always being there. Thank you for making our home safe and always making my friends feel welcome (except when they tried to get into your drink mix). Thanks for always being there for mom and for always making me laugh. Thanks for always trying to record the shark shows so I wouldn’t miss them and for buying me feta-stuffed peppers cause you knew how much I loved them. Thank you for introducing me to Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, The Righteous Brothers, and all the other good music.
Thank you for keeping an eye on us (I am confident you are). Please help guide my boys. I will continue to remember you every time I see Rottweilers, eat prime rib, hear a ‘little Johnny’ joke, or see an old redneck mutter ‘Jesus Christ!’ under his breath.
I probably didn’t say it enough while you were alive, but I love you, and you were always, and always will be, my true Dad.
You were the only source of inspiration I needed.