Monday, October 18, 2010

Red...

Today would have been my father’s birthday. Why am I posting a picture of Robert Redford with this post? Well, because my father looked exactly like Robert Redford. Well, I should say, Robert Redford looked exactly like my father -- exactly. When Dad was a young man, he had rather a lot of girlfriends, as my mother kept reminding him over the years. I especially used to hear about one girl named Phyllis, whose name kept cropping up, and I once saw a picture of her. She was beautiful – just like my mother.

Dad was trained as a Chartered Accountant, and he worked for the firm of Arthur Andersen in Toronto for a few years, but he didn’t like being “desk-bound”. He said wearing a suit and tie was not something he enjoyed, so he came back to British Columbia to work in the woods. Dad loved the outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing… My father was one of the first forgers of the rugged, world-famous, West Coast Trail along the coast of Vancouver Island. On their honeymoon, my mother and father spent their first night together in a farmer’s field on Vancouver Island, and they woke up with a bull staring at them. My father created a distraction while my mother sprinted for the fence surrounding the field. My mother always joked that her trousseau consisted of hiking boots and a back pack from the Army and Navy.

My father was extremely intellectual, and I loved having conversations with him. He was a bit of a philosopher, and our conversations about politics, religion, art, science, literature and music have formed so much of who I am today. Red could be opinionated, and if he disagreed with something he would holler, “Bunkum…!” I think bumkum and claptrap were two of his favourite words. There was no way you could pull the wool over Red’s eyes. He had the clearest vision of anyone I have ever known, and he was always right. Whenever my brothers and I had done something wrong, my Dad used to say, “You know when something is wrong. There is right and there is wrong, and you know when you have done something wrong…!” It’s true; we always did.

One of my favourite pictures is of my father and my oldest brother – who was about 18 months old at the time – sitting on the front porch. My Dad has his arm around my brother, and Dad has the sweetest, most tender look on his face. That photograph sums up who my father really was. He was very affectionate, but he did not always show it.

My Dad was multi-faceted and he played piano well, he painted, he loved to cook, and he had a wonderful library of books. When I was a teenager, I discovered so many great authors in my father’s library – W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Orson Welles, T.S. Elliott, James Thurber, Thomas Wolfe, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, A.L. Rowse … I could go on ...

Red was probably the most important person in my life, and I still think about him every day. Every once in a while when I see someone doing something that is wrong, I can hear my Dad’s voice saying, “That’s just not right…!” and it makes me chuckle

Happy Birthday, Red.

13 comments:

Single and Sane said...

How odd - August 18th is also Robert Redford's birthday! It sounds like they had more than looks in common.

Thanks for sharing your memories of your dad. He raised a fascinating daughter!

Margaret

DUTA said...

This post is very touching. Such a sweet tribute to your father's memory!

Marguerite said...

Lovely tribute to your Dad! Loved the honeymoon story and trousseau! I can see a lot of his qualities in you, Jo, and think that you must look like him, too?

DJan said...

It's so nice to be remembered like that. And to have a famous person who reminds you so much of him, that's amazing. No wonder you are such a special person, with such a special father...

ρομπερτ said...

Indeed a felt tribute. May love negate time and distance.

daily athens

@ly said...

How sweet and most importantly you have carried a piece of him in your heart. The memories of happy times are what make us move on. Your Dad sounded like a very interesting wise man....I think he passed those traits onto you. :-)

Alicia said...

There's nothing in this world like a father. Yours was a very special man to leave you with so many beautiful memories.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a lovely father you had! How very wonderful for both of you.

It's really strange, but my older brother has always resembled Robert Redford, too, and one of his sons does as well.

I really enjoyed reading this post and getting to know your parents a bit, army boots and all. So kind of you to share them with us.

Firefly said...

I am amazed at how many wonderful memories and stories you have of your mother and father. Always great to have.

kenju said...

He sounds like a very good man. the 18th is my younger daughter's birthday too.

Pauline said...

this was a wonderful tribute from a daughter who sounds much like her father :)

Carla said...

Beautiful tribute to your Dad.

Paula Slade said...

Jo, I definitely see a striking resemblance between your picture and the Robert Redford photo you posted.

Thank you for sharing remembrances of your father, he sounds like he was a fascinating man, and gorgeous too! :)