by Fallen Leaves on July 10, 2011
I have departed from this website, but I feel like writing right now and using a pen and paper feels like it'd take forever.
My dad turned fifty on Wednesday. Tonight, his sisters and parents were out at our lake for a weiner roast celebration of his birthday. My grandparents (called Memere and Pepere -- we're French Canadian) are very kind people that make good conversation, but sadly there are tensions between them and my mother and I rarely get to spend time with them.
Tonight, Pepere stood up. He was holding a wooden vase. The vase had narrow lines carved and wrapped around its centre. Within those carvings were different sorts of grains glued in -- starting with canola, including wheat, barley, oats, and peas. The wooden vase is very intricate and was his own handiwork. It's a quite impressive piece, as this eighty-some year-old man meticulously put these grains in neat rows. The vase has a top (so I guess it isn't really a vase) with a space to hold a candle. Pepere had put a candle in it, with the number '50' written on it in glittery gold writing.
My pepere is a sweet old man. He may be eighty-four (?) but he is quick as a whip, both physically and mentally. Pepere began a speech. "I'd like to officially announce to all of you that I am retiring from farming after 50 solid years. This vase is a representation of all of those years, and includes every grain I've ever farmed. I made this myself. This candle represents the 50 years that I've been farming, too. I would've quit farming long ago, if it weren't for my son. He was always around to help me out and we were partners. Since I'm officially retired, I now pass this torch, this representation of my life, to my son, Gilbert."
My cute grandfather was tearing up, and handed my dad the candle.
Hell, all my aunties were tearing up. I know I was.
I love my pepere. He has a charming French accent and an enthusiastic approach to everything. He is an honest man. He is the man that worked hard every day of his life, and has come out of it wealthy with regards to both money and family life. He is an active Catholic and strong believer. When I was in Punta Cana with my extended family this February break, he came parasailing. He danced at his granddaughter's wedding. Pepere is sincere, and loving, and gentle. He comes to watch my softball games and knows everything there seemingly is to know about ball.
And then there's my dad, who channels his own father strongly. He works hard, and in his honest work he has come out with a comfortable lifestyle and a beautiful family. My dad has always been patient with us, even though his children are prone to bad attitudes and swear to never farm. He's truly a good man, and I am so very, very proud of him. He is generous. He has a good life: work hard, support the family, and go to church faithfully on Sunday. Help those who need help. Play catch with his daughters. Farm with his father and with his son.
An example that comes to mind of how amazing my dad is was exhibited a few months ago. I've been having a lot of trouble socially this year -- if you don't drink in small town Saskatchewan, you are not a welcome peer -- and was trying to make ammends. I was going to drive to a party at a classmate's house to try to mingle. I was backing out of my driveway with my mom's car, and I got stuck in a snowbank not twenty feet from the garage. (I had been stuck a few weeks before about a half kilometre from my house, so I was pretty pissed this time.) I stormed into the house, and found my parents who were visiting with some friends. "Dad! I got the car fucking stuck again! I'm not going to the party!" Dad pulls away from company, grabs a shovel, and asks me outside. It took us a bloody hour to dig the car out. We broke an ice pick, we used ashes for traction under the tires, and we struggled to get this stupid vehicle out of the miserable Saskatchewan snow. Finally we got it out and he drove it into the garage.
I was waiting for him on the platform in the garage. He started taking off his snow stuff and was getting ready to go back to the company he and Mom had.
"So," he said, "Your curfew's still two, hey?"
"You're still letting me go, even though I got the car stuck in the yard again
"Well of course. Everyone gets stuck. I'm not mad at you for getting it stuck. It happens. Just... watch your language, okay?"
It took him an hour, broken tools, and lost visiting time to get his teenaged daughter's poor driving situation fixed, and all he had to critique was my use of the f-word.
I burst into tears. I knew my parents were far too amazing. I was crying because I didn't know how to tell them. I was crying because I was upset with myself for being stupid enough to get the car stuck. I was crying because I didn't want to go to the party anyways. I was crying because I was sick of not fitting in at all, merely because I choose not to drink and that I'm ambitious in school.
It was okay, though, because my dad wrapped his arms around me anyways.