What follows is roughly what I said at the two memorials that were held for my Dad. I couldn’t hope to fully give you an idea of who he was or what he meant to me, but this might help give you a tiny glimpse into my Dad.
And he definitely would have wanted me to try and make people laugh.
As those of you who have spent any time at all with my Dad, you know he loved sweets. And when he was a kid, one of his very favourite desserts was custard. The problem with him making custard was that everyone else in his family liked custard too. And he didn’t want to share his custard. His feeling was, “I made it, I should get to eat it!” So, what did my Dad do? He made the custard, just like he normally would… with one extra ingredient.
Green food colouring.
Tasted just like regular custard. Looked just like regular sick.
And he got to eat all the custard he wanted.
This proves that my Dad knew how to think outside the box from a very young age.
There is something else that my Dad loved to do.
When I was in my very early teens, I had what could very generously be called an “enlarged sense of self worth” — i.e., I was insufferable. I read a lot and thought I was really, really intelligent. One day, I found this one insult in a book — it may have been Shakespeare, or maybe I liked it just because it sounded “Shakespearean” to me. Either way, I LOVED that insult. With the heat of a thousand suns. But I didn’t have a good opportunity to use it. I had to keep it to myself. And it HURT to have to keep such a wonderful and intelligent-sounding insult all to myself. It was KILLING me.
Until one day, me and Dad were going at each other and I could take it NO MORE. I knew — this was THE MOMENT, this was when I had to let loose with my BIG GUNS. I took a deep breath and I let him have it —
“A POX ON YOUR FIRSTBORN”.
I stood there, waiting for him to shrivel away.
But he just looked at me.
And looked at me.
And looked at me.
And THEN it hit me.
Yeah. That felt good.
I think seeing that look on my face was one of the very best moments of his life. He never let me live that one down. And I mean NEVER. “A pox on your firstborn! A pox on your firstborn! A pox on your firstborn!” Sometimes, I would catch him quietly chuckling to himself and then he would mutter to himself, “A pox on your firstborn… heh heh heh.”
My Dad loved to tease people. Especially those he loved.
(Especially his firstborn.)
But when he wasn’t driving my self-esteem into the dirt, my Dad wanted nothing more than for me to excel. And he found the best way to truly excel at a task was to challenge yourself.
Which he did to me.
From a very young age.
My Dad loved to tell this story. When I was just learning to walk, I’d be on the floor of the living room and my Dad would be in his old rocking chair. And I would struggle to stand and then I’d make a couple of steps across the floor, heading over to my Dad, and just when I got in front of him, he would reach out, put his foot in the center of my chest… and push.
And I would fall down.
And then I would get up again, and walk towards him… and he’d push me over again.
And then I’d stand up again, and walk towards him, and he would push me… and I would step back, and I would teeter… but I wouldn’t fall down.
He said I would be so excited at not falling over, that I’d laugh and laugh and then run towards him… and he’d push me over.
My Dad loved to challenge himself. And everyone around him.
And my Dad taught me something very important, just by the way that he lived his life — that you never have to “settle”. You never need to say, “Well, this is what I am and this is what I will be for the rest of my life.” My Dad never stopped exploring, trying new things, reinventing himself. My Dad never stopped looking for his bliss.
My Dad was a teacher, an ambulance driver, an educator of energy conservation, a taxi driver, an actor, a writer, a graphic designer, a web designer, and a Flash developer. My Dad was a cyclist, a bodybuilder, a runner, a triathlete, a skydiver, and a motorcyclist. My Dad was a reader. My Dad was a son, a brother, a father, a father-in-law, an uncle, and a grandfather. My Dad was a husband. My Dad was a friend. My Dad was my best friend.
My Dad was a good man. My Dad was happy. My Dad was loved.