As Father's Day approaches my thoughts turn to my dad. He passed away more than a decade ago at the age of 89. Dad was born in a village in Poland, the son of poor peasants who made their living peddling household goods. His home, as a boy, was a shack with a dirt floor. He shared this humble space with his mom and three sisters while his dad was over here working to save the money to bring his family to a better life. Hunger was dad's constant companion during those years. Root vegetables were the bulk of his diet with a bit of chicken on special occasions. For dad, wasting food was a sin. Giving food, even tinned or packaged, was his way of showing love.
My grandfather brought his family over here when my dad was eight. Dad went through the school system, then on to university and law school. After graduation he set up practice and met and married Mom. My two sisters and I soon came along. He was living a life almost unimaginable to the poor boy in Poland.
\While Dad loved his family, he had developed other passions, one was golf and the other was fishing. He was an avid fisherman, deep-sea fishing in winter and heading north for muskies, pike and pickerel in the summer. I have many happy memories of sitting with him in a boat on a still lake waiting for the perch to bite. Blueberry pie and a tall glass of milk at some small town diner was often the perfect end for those idyllic days.
I particularly remember one cold and snowy January morning when my sisters and I were teenagers. Dad had left the house well before dawn dressed in his warmest fishing clothes while the rest of us slept soundly under our quilts. When he arrived at the lake he chopped a hole in the ice, lowered his line and sat patiently on his little stool waiting for the smelt to bite.
A few hours later, when the sun had risen to give us a gloriously bright day, Dad returned home with quite a catch. We, of course, were still asleep. He gutted and scaled a big mess of smelt, seasoned and dredged them in flour and dropped them into hot oil in the frying pan. While that was happening, he also threw some buns in the oven to warm, set the table, put on the kettle and cut up a platter's worth of fresh vegetables.
When all was ready Dad walked over to the stereo and picked out one of his favorite records, Scottish bagpipe music. He turned the volume up as high as it would go and let the sound do its magic. From deep under the sheets I poked my head out when I heard, "And here come the McGregors!" just before the drone of the pipes began.
One by one, my sisters, Mom and I staggered out of our beds to find out what all the racket was about. On the dining room table was a mouth-watering feast. There was nothing quite so wonderful as this fish fry breakfast, my father's delicious and eloquent expression of his feelings for us.
I love you, Dad.
For the past few years I have been gathering other people's true stories of love which I've put into a book called Heartbeats. Heartbeats contains 50 stories about love in its many forms. It will be on Amazon as an e-book in a few weeks. My purpose in gathering these stories is to share them with others. To me, love is the most important thing in life. I believe it is what we are here to learn. We are either in a place of love in everything we think and do or we are not. It's that simple. The stories in Heartbeats are meant to touch us and remind us of how connected by love we really are.
I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org