As I write this, my computer’s taskbar displays today’s date: 11/23/18. I remember with fondness that two years ago on November 21, we celebrated a milestone at Chez Bos: my lovely wife Maria, also known as the Bos Lady, turned 50 – a momentous occasion to be sure.
Now here we are in 2018, and a couple of days ago I took mental note of another anniversary of sorts. November 21, 2018 marked 30 years to the day that my father passed on.
Yes, for all these 30 years November 21 was a shared date for an anniversary and a birthday.
As the 80’s slipped into the 90’s, November 21’s were somewhat bitter-sweet: I experienced a bit of a pall mentally while celebrating Maria’s birthdays. I do not know if she noticed. I only know that she never mentioned it, let alone complained about it. For that, I thank her deeply.
Soon enough though, that mental fog of grief and loss on those November 21 birthdays faded away, and I was able to fully celebrate the day with Maria while fond memories of my dad’s life flitted through my thoughts. November 21 was fully and completely Maria’s Day again.
It was all that this year again. But this year, I also spent a lot of time thinking about my dad within a “happy thoughts” narrative.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that he’s been gone for 30 years. Almost 11-thousand days. Our family has grown in that time from just the two of us with an 18-month old baby to a middle-aged, greying-at-the-edges couple with three adult children, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and four (almost five!) grandchildren.
As time moves ever on, the human spirit and mind more readily remember the good things about loved ones that have passed on. I am no different. Like all people, my father had his faults, but my memories now rarely bring them into focus. What value would that be?
Now I remember my father’s hands. Big and powerful. The talented, calloused hands of a working man. Hands that built houses, rowed boats, planted gardens, and rolled cigarettes perfectly.
I remember his sense of humour, which was often self-deprecating. Friday nights when Dad and Mom’s best friends, the Noot’s and Brandsma’s, came visiting; the rum and rye splashing in glasses and laughter ringing off the walls, the loudest peals coming from Dad.
I remember his commitment to perfection in everything he did. No house he built ever had a framed corner that wasn’t square and true, nor was ever a corner cut. That front lawn of our home in Spruce Grove – all seeded, no sod. The lushest, deepest lawn in all of the Grove.
And I remember the cross he carried, which he mentioned only once to me in a particularly dark time in his life. His folks had two children, both sons. My dad’s brother was the apple of their parents’ eyes, the one they had their exclusive hopes and dreams for, the Golden Child. My father was raised as the also-ran. I remember this fondly only because my father did not let this make, break or define him. He moved on in his quiet, stoic and stubborn way.
Thirty years, Dad. Been a long time. I trust all is perfect up there.
Your son, Ron.