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Jun 17 2012

A Few Good Men! In Honour of Father’s day, have a nice day!

“Have a Nice Day”

The song is by Bon Jovi, one of my favourites and makes me think of the men in my life. That being said:

In honour of Father’s day, I thought I’d say a few words about the men in my life.

The first man I think of is my own father. To anyone following this blog it comes as no surprise that my father died almost two years ago. He is the real reason that I started writing in the first place; I didn’t start this blog because I thought I was a writer. I started it because I had so much in my head that I needed to get out  I began in a small journal dedicated to my grief experience which turned into a very long word document that I would send in pieces to a dear friend of mine who was gracious enough to accept the emails and send me a note back asking me to continue with my story. The story’s title is “Googling Through Grief” which I have been secretly writing since shortly after my fathers passing. It’s not so secret now since I have been sharing excerpts with you all since April.

I wrote this a few months after I started.

Here it is.

I am a 6 year old girl. I am standing on the street watching my father walk farther and farther down the road. I wanted to go with him.

It was always a pleasant day and a special treat to go with my Dad on his errands; A quick stop by the post office, a long walk downDrouillard Rd, at least 3 or 4 long city blocks, past the little old lady who was always working in her garden. My Dad would call out to her and give a little wave. She’d stand up stooped and in broken English call back to him “Tomatoes, you take!” My father would thank her kindly. He’d actually say it, “I thank you kindly” and promise to pick them up on his way back home. We’d walk on and across the busy intersection and head towards where he worked chatting on about the birds and the beautiful sky and what a great day for a walk it was. We would pass his work and he would wave to the guys in the receiving dock who were working the weekend. They would quip back and forth, my father laughing heartily as he picked up the pace to stay on task. Sometimes we’d stop in for a minute, my father disappearing inside to drop off or pick up some information for some union business. I’d sit on the steps of the old building or kick around the stones on the ground being urged to behave and stay out of harms way. Moments later, Dad would appear and we would continue our way down the street, stopping in at the only men’s clothing store in the city my father would buy his pants at. He was always greeted warmly and he always greeted everyone likewise. He’d chat for a moment without missing a step as he would make his way to the alterations department or the cashier.  We’d scoot across the street and drop into the old Gray’s department store to pick up an item my mother might have requested. On occasion, if there was time, my father would let me head down to the basement of the department store where they had fabric for sale and I would check out the prices and feel all the textures and look at all the colours. With a quick look at his pocket watch, we would be on our way back home. I’d complain some about my legs being tired and my father would promise we would be home soon. He’d take hold of my hand and pull me along, distracting me with a silly song or poem or story of long ago. Cars drove by and honked and with each, my father replied with an exuberant wave. He seemed to know everyone. Back downDrouillard Rd, where the little old lady would be waiting with a basket of ripe red tomatoes. Again he would thank her kindly and we would make the final stretch home.

My father was so far away, I kept calling out to him but he couldn’t hear me. I had heard the front screen door shut and I scrambled to get my shoes on to follow him and ask if I could go with him. Tying my laces was still a concentrated task and by the time I had tied them properly and ran out the door, he was blocks away. He walked so quickly, always with a purpose. He never looked back, his eyes were always forward to where he was going.  I called for him louder and louder until my throat hurt and he disappeared out of my view.

I was a 44 year old woman and at the same time, I still felt like that 6 year old girl, calling for him, wanting him to come back to me.

The second man is quite the character. He is my father in law. He wears a hat and he’s hard to find.

I am 20 years old and months after meeting my husband, I am finally let out of the basement and up the stairs to meet his parents. While dating my husband, we always came into his house late after a day of watching him play baseball. Right after the game, we would head over to the sports bar that sponsored his team and spend hours on a outdoor patio; the guys would be replaying and boasting of their great plays, the girls would be rolling our eyes as we patiently waited for our fellas to finish their last round of drinks. By the time I drove his car home, it would be dark and my husband, ever the gentleman, would hold open the door and shush me inside and point to the stairwell downward.

I would ask him, when I was going to meet his family. He would say, “I don’t think you want to do that.”

A couple of months later, in mid summer, my husband, took my hand on the old couch in the dim lit musty room and said, “Well, do you really want to do this”. I felt honoured that he thought of me enough to introduce me but scared out of mind about what I was walking into.

We walked slowly up the stairs and around the corner to where his parents were sitting. His mother smiled at me and surveyed me and then said she was happy to meet me. She was so sweet. His father took one look at me and said. “Oh, it’s the basement girl!” as he looked at me briefly and then took a sip of his beer as he stared at his golf game on T.V. I was hooked.

He is a man of few words.

The family would gather most every Sunday for a grand reunion on the front porch. My husband, his sister, his 4 older brothers, their wives and girlfriends and a few of the grandchildren would be scattered under the porch overhang, sitting on lawn chairs and on the edge of the cement capped ledge that enclosed the porch. The conversation was always spirited with reminiscing and teasing and laughter that I’m sure echoed for blocks. My father in law would sit back and watch everyone as he half listened to the baseball game that was playing on the little transistor radio that sat on the table to his left.

The first Christmas I spent with all of them was absolute insanity. My mother in law was really Mrs. Claus. She decorated the house from top to bottom right down to the Christmas toilet paper that hung in the washroom by theHolidaytoilet seat cover. Even the morning constitutional was sprinkled with Christmas bliss. My father in law could be likened to “The Grinch”. Every Christmas as we joined the rest of the family in our greeting him with “Merry Christmas”, his usual response was Bah Humbug.

He doesn’t get excited. I’ve never seen him lose his temper.

He worked from a very young age, ten I think. He gave the money he earned to his mother to help raise his 7 or so brothers and sisters. They lived in a two bedroom house. He married my mother in law, I think at 19 or so. He always worked and eventually opened his own butcher shop, taking care of his now growing family and the one he left behind. He worked long hours to take care of everyone and stayed steadfast and true to them. He hired his own children to work for him, helping them get their start. He fired one of them too, a few times from what I hear. After the big box food chains moved in he lost the business. Instead of being completely devastated which I am certain he would have been, he picked himself up and started again.

 He had many accounts that had not been paid; he was known to give lines of credit for those who were struggling. He never went after any one for the money. He just closed the business and absorbed the debt himself.  Most people would have declared bankruptcy. He did not. He paid what he had to over many years while he managed the department at the big chain He never complained about the money owed to him. He never spoke much about this great loss of his dream; he just kept right on going.

  His children have carried that same solid steadfast approach to life and their successes to this day. They are all successful, each one of them. There is nothing that can get a Meloche down for long. They always get right back up. Strong people, just like their father.

They all have great hair too. At over 80, my father in law still has a full head of the most beautiful white hair. He is a good looking man.

He is uncomfortable with displays of emotion. Most times, when I tell him that I love him or that I think he is wonderful, he says, in a Clint Eastwood tone “Have a nice day!” Other times he says, “You’re weird, you know that?” or “give your head a shake”

But on a summer day, when the roses in his back yard were in their radiant red bloom, he would, without a word, walk past his wife and I as we sat at the kitchen table and wander out into the yard. Moments later he would return with a fresh cut flower, one for the love of his life and one for me. He would hand them to us, having already removed most of the thorns and then return to his chair in the living room to continue watching his golf game.

Today, on this day of honouring the fathers in our lives, we will not be spending it with him. “Why? You might ask. We will not be spending the day with him because he will be hiding. . Somewhere in the city, he will be parking his car on some random street or alley way or wedged between two larger vehicles. He will be hiding in some bar and grill or out of the way restaurant hoping to avoid the attention. My sister in law will spend the day on stakeout, riding up and down the city roads until she finds him. She always does at some point and I swear he goes home and schemes up a better strategy and escape route for the following year.

You have to love this guy!

In honour of father’s everywhere; Have a nice day!

 

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3 comments

  1. Karen

    & I did find him too….he can’t hide from me 🙂

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      I figured you would. We invited him for dinner. Somehow the way he said “Yeah, right!” told me he wouldn’t be by any time soon. Where was he this time?

  2. Maureen

    I love when you post stories about Dad!! It brings back so many beautiful memories of him!! God how I miss that man!!!

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