20ish years ago around this time in February, at the age of 20, I went back to Newfoundland after leaving when I was 4. This was also the first time my Dad had seen me, and that I had seen Dad since his last visit to Ontario when I was 12 years old (for complicated reasons).
My step-mother picked me up from the airport as Dad wasn’t feeling well, but he got up when I arrived and he gave me the biggest hug he could, reaching up at my 6ft3 frame.
I went back one more time to Newfoundland during August 1995, 6 months later, on my way out to England to study in Norwich. Dad insisted on paying for my flights out and back, with the provision that I stop in St. John’s on the way out. It was the last time I would see him as he passed away Christmas Eve 1995. It wouldn’t be until 1998 that I would go back out to St, John’s to see my step mother.
I felt so awkward during that trip, but we made the best of the time together. I also had a bad cold, probably a bit worse than the one I have now.
So much has happened and changed in those 20 years. Graduating, getting my first car, getting married, getting jobs, losing jobs, travelling, the ups and downs of life.
I wouldn’t have changed the experience for anything.
I’ve often struggled with having to figure life out for myself without having that father figure. That doesn’t mean the efforts of my grandfather and uncle are not going unrecognized – they did the best they could with the energy they had (my grandfather), and with their own families they were bringing up (my uncle). What doesn’t kill us does make us stronger.
I’m also thankful to those who have been able to step up and help out in that mentorship role since, and I’ve been glad of the opportunities where I’ve had a chance to share my own wisdom as well.