Last month I wrote a Mother’s Day entry after hearing about how Kara organized a group project. It was fun. I like these sorts of gorup projects more than the ones we had to do in high school. So when I got an email from her telling me there would be one for Father’s Day too, I jumped on board.
They say that most little girls are “Daddy’s little girl” and I was no exception. I loved playing with my mom too, and as I got into the later teen years, I sought out my mom’s advice more and more. I have many wonderful memories of times with my mom.
But oh, there are so many fun memories with my dad too. Let me share some of them with you.
We used to go cross-country skiing just about every weekend where it was even remotely possible. If we had a chance to plan things out we would go to Mont-Tremblant park and do a day trip, have lunch at the halfway point, ski back, and then drive an hour home to my grandmother’s house. If we didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it and we just needed to get out and ski we’d either go skiing around the bush up where our friend Donald lived, or we’d even go to the golf course and ski there for a few hours. Hell, I would ski in my grandmother’s backyard if worst came to worst, doing laps.
My dad was an excellent skier and I learned to be one too through his coaching. My only complaint was that he and Donald would often ski leisurely along, looking at the scenery whereas I would take off with Donald’s daughter Paula and see how far we could get in ten minutes of heavy “kick and glide” skiing; we usually got far enough to be a little ticked off when they’d finally catch up.
My dad also taught me the “poles between your legs” maneuver that he and Donald used whenever they hit a hill that was too steep to attack straight on; you took both poles, put them between your legs the way a witch does on a broom and you used the baskets as a brake to slow you down. I can still remember screaming “WOOOOHOOO!” all the way down one particularly long and crazy hill we had to take when we used to come back from the 20-person overnight ski trip at Mont-Tremblant park. Fun.
My favorite thing about my dad and skiing was that he was so good at it that he never fell. As long as he was actually SKIING. More times than I can recall, I watched him stop to take a cigarette break, take a puff, and fall on his ass. Hee. Proof that smoking is bad for you I guess!
In the summer when we couldn’t ski, we’d try to go camping. I’m a fairly serious camper. To me, a cabin is vacationing, not camping. Camping means a tent and a walk to the outhouse down the trail (or the closest bush) and no showers. Camping is ROUGHING it. We went a few times back to the same park we skied in, and we’d camp out on Lac Herman. We’d try to catch fish while my dad frantically rowed our raft out of the bullrushes and back to the middle of the lake (and though we never caught a damn thing it was still fun), walk to the other swimming-friendly lake for a dip, grill venison steaks for supper, and listen to wolves howl across the lake at night. I miss camping.
He was a fan of target shooting and as a young teen I was up at the sand pit shooting at bulls-eyes or sometimes up on Donald’s farm doing the same. We entered in a turkey shoot once; no you don’t actually shoot the turkey although that might have been, uh, interesting. The best shooter in different age categories wins a turkey, next best wins a chicken. I won the booby prize, a can of cranberry sauce, but I didn’t even care that I was the worst in my bracket, I just had a load of fun firing a .22 with my dad.
I’ve told this story before I think but it seriously bears mentioning again because it never fails to make me laugh. Hopefully the humor translates in writing. My dad snores. My dad snores like someone is driving an 18-wheeler through the house. So you can imagine how loud it was when you were stuck in a tent with him.
(Tangent – on one of those overnight ski trips, I woke up to use the bathroom and I swear to GOD, every last person but me was snoring in that bloody cabin. It was like the 1812 Overtures being played with bandsaws. Insanity. I never got back to sleep that night.)
Anyway, usually I managed to deal and if it got bad enough I would just nudge him with one foot and he’d stop long enough for me to fall asleep. One night though, nothing worked. We were in Vermont, Alburg to be precise and we were visiting my aunt and uncle’s trailer in the rec park they stayed in each summer. Although there was room in the trailer for all of us, my dad and I set up the tent for fun. That particular night, he was snoring like the apocalypse was going to rain down. I nudged him. No. I kicked him. Still nothing. I yelled, “Daddy! Stop snoring!” Each time he would wake up, apologize and IMMEDIATELY return to snoring. I could not sleep and I was exhausted. In desperation and frustration, I grabbed my pillow and whacked him three times across the head saying, “StopItStopItSTOPIT!” through gritted teeth. He sat up wildly, confused and asked, “Wha? What? What’s happening?” I innocently said, “Oh nothing, you were just snoring a bit, go to sleep.” He blinked a few times, apologized, rolled over and went to sleep. Quietly.
I know my dad is reading this and I’m sure he remembers all of them (except perhaps the aforementioned pillow fight when he was sleeping), but I think my favorite memory of him may surprise him. The summer I turned 16, I was dating a guy I had known in high school. He and I dated all through our final year. That summer, for the first time ever, I didn’t want to go to Vermont for the week. I wanted to stay home alone, like I had done on weekends from time to time so that I could hang out with my friends and see my boyfriend. With some reluctance my parents agreed (I don’t know why they were concerned, it’s not like I could have a wild keg party with the landlady living right downstairs), especially once I landed a job interview one day that week. So off they went, driving the 2-2.5 hour drive from Montreal to Alburg.
The VERY NEXT DAY, jackass boyfriend dumps me. By phone. CLASSY. He was my first boyfriend. We were planning a movie date one minute and the next he was telling me he didn’t want to be with me anymore. Come on, I was 16, I thought my world was falling apart. So I called the park office, my parents called me back, and my dad hopped in the car and drove all the way back to Montreal. I sobbed and bawled and sobbed some more, then I went to bed. The next morning, I threw some stuff in a suitcase and my dad drove us back to Vermont again.
The entire time I was so upset, either crying or just staring out the window. I think it had been at least 24 hours since I had smiled at all. As we got close enough to tune into the Alburg country music radio station, my dad switched it over. At one point, a brand new song came on by a singer that I had never heard of at the time. It was Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With the Boy”. When it got to the line, “Her Daddy says he ain’t worth a lick, when it came to brains he got the short end of the stick” I started to giggle. My dad laughed, then I laughed more, and every time she hit the chorus and sang that line, we laughed.
Sitting in the car, broken-hearted with my dad who had driven so far to come and get me so I wouldn’t be all alone for a week, listening to a funny song was one of the best moments with my father. To this day, as soon as I hear that song, I think of my dad.
I could write so many more things, like how he always played with my Hot Wheels cars after supper whenever I asked. Or how he built that log cabin in my grandmother’s back yard for me. I could write about how we share a similar sense of humor for certain movies (especially slapstick) which would lead to the two of us crying from hysterical laughter while my mother wondered why we thought “Home Alone” was THAT funny. I could also explain how many times we played Scattergories as a family and my father would make up answers and deliver them straight-faced to see if we would believe that there was really a book called “The Cowboy From Cambridge” or whatnot. But you know what? It’s midnight and the more I keep writing the more I remember and I need to wrap this up at some point so I can get to sleep to prepare for the inevitable early wake-up tomorrow morning.
Happy Father’s Day.