The Swagger Coach: On Father’s Day

swagger coach
All of us have fathers. Many of us have a Dad. Many of us have a Dad who has passed, or may not be in our lives any longer for one reason or another. Some of us may not have known our Dads very well, and some of us have never met them. Some of us have had remarkable people step into our lives and take on the role of a Dad. But not everyone has grown up with a Dad. I have, and although our relationship has been strained at times (angsty teen years, hello) I think he did a wicked job. I mean, I’m not running the streets at four AM without shoes on, or fighting pigeons for crumbs while I wear a tinfoil hat to protect against radio waves reading my thoughts. For all intents and purposes, he did good.
Dad 1
Dads, they say the darndest things. The most important things I’ve learned from my own dad have been through his actions, not his words. My Dad is a human like any other, full of strengths, weaknesses, complexities and feelings, but he’s always been a good guy and a great role model to the young people he works with and interacts with daily. He’s the easy-going, patient counterpart to my EVERYTHINGRIGHTNOWALLTHETIME personality, and as I’ve grown up I’ve learned to appreciate the person he is and the influence he’s had over my family, my upbringing, and my sick, twisted sense of humour.

My Mom and Dad met on a cold winter’s day outside of Centeral Tech high school in Toronto, just blocks away from our Kensington Market store. My Mom, the petite Portuguese immigrant, slipped on ice and fell flat on her butt in front of the entire student body. My Dad, the 6’3 flute-toting ginger scooped her up and put her on her feet again. From then on they were inseparable. They got married right out of high school and adopted a handful of stray cats. I should clarify, it was my Mom who adopted the cats, my dad stocked up on allergy pills and lint brushes. My mom was the runaway train who was always out to tackle the next challenge, my Dad was the patient and reliable anchor that kept her from running off the deep end. They got a small apartment downtown, and began their lives as a couple. They tried for years to have kids, and were told by every doctor they came across that it would never happen. You know, until little old me came along, to prove them wrong. So much for “never”.

I was raised as an only child. My Mom taught me the essentials, and I followed after her example as though I were a tiny adult. She taught me how to write a decent essay, and how to keep an agenda organized, how to compile a shopping list, and to always leave a paper trail. My Mom taught me to be a grown up. My Dad taught me how to have fun and act like a kid. He’d let me stand on his feet while we grocery shopped, he’d threaten to “unleash the tigers” in a thick Russian accent (he’s Scottish) if I didn’t follow directions. When I was a baby, he’d smack himself over the head with a (clean) diaper for hours to put me into fits of giggles. I have a photo from a family trip to the cottage from when I was around three, showing me screaming with delight as I held a fishing line. (After an unsuccessful afternoon of fishing, my dad strung a Highliner fish stick onto my line and threw it back into the water while I was distracted so that I could “find my catch”. My God, the screams. I caught a fish stick. I was so very, very pleased with myself.)

Dad 2

My Dad continued being cool into my adolescent days. He bought us matching Razor scooters (remember when that was a thing?) and spent afternoons zipping around the neighbourhood with me. Mind you, his last trip was ended with a bad fall resulting in a broken foot and two metal pins through his toes, but the time spent acting like idiots was well appreciated and it did both of us good. He attended every single one of my choir and theater productions (how many times can one man listen to “There are Worse Things I Can Do or “Seasons of Love”? Kudos to you, Dad) and never complained about driving me to rehearsals, auditions, performances and workshops. We blasted James Taylor and the Eagles and Pink Floyd in the car, and he is to credit for my love of classic rock and sandalwood scented incense. He told me tales of his years with my Mom, dressing up as Frank and Magenta and going to midnight showings of Rocky Horror, then having to take the bus back as his fishnets peeked out from the ankles of the jeans he had thrown over top. Stealthy.

My dad taught me loyalty, as he stuck by my Mom throughout her struggle with illness and accompanied her to every single appointment, her best friend until her very last day. He taught me to have a good work ethic, by supporting his staff at the major news station he works at, no matter how many hours of overtime he took on to make sure the job was done. He taught me not to take life so seriously. He taught me to goof off every once in a while, to never FULLY grow up and to be sensitive to the feelings of those around me. He killed the spiders, reached the high shelves and fixed whatever needed attention. My Dad taught me character, tolerance, and yeah, a lot of highly inappropriate jokes. That’s what made him cool.

Dad 3

I’m grown up and I’ve moved away from home now, but my Dad is still one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met. I’m now looking towards the future and what’s to come for my family. Although I’m sad that my kids (if I decide to pop one or two out after all) will never know their Grandma, they sure have an awesome Grandpa to turn to for amazing kindness, patience and humour. Plus he does one heck of a Time Warp.

So, to my Dad and to the other Dads, to the Dads who are learning to be good Dads, to the Dads who devote every waking moment to their kids and the Dads who have to work long hours to keep a roof over their heads, to the Dads who are strict and the Dads who are lax, the Dads who we fear and the Dads that we love, THANK YOU on behalf of your kids. Thank you for the influence you’ve had over our lives, for the lessons you’ve taught us and for being there to clean the cuts and kill the bugs. We may not always say it, but we, your kids, appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made for us. Dad, I love you and I think you’ve one groovy guy. Thanks for the last 25 years, and HAPPY FATHERS DAY! 🙂

Dad 4

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