Yes indeed Dad, here you are 80 years old and still the tip of the spear for your family. Few men that have walked the earth have ever been as full of life as you are today. Who you are affects everything I do each day of my life. Anything good that is in me comes from both you and the Creator (and Mum). No man could ever have asked for a better father. I couldn’t be any prouder to be your son.
What a tremendous man you have been to look up to. And I still consider you my ultimate role model today. Iron sharpens iron as they say. Whenever I am in doubt or lacking in courage I think of you. I ask myself what Papa would do. The answer is never that complicated, but it always comes down to having courage and doing the right thing. You have a common sense and a hard core pragmatic nature that is always there for me to refer to. Who you are gives me the courage of my convictions and the will to take action.
As I think back to when I was a young boy, it was simply fantastic growing up in your household. We never wanted for anything and had tremendous active childhoods. I’ve got so many great memories from early on in the Eastern Townships, to life in the suburbs of Montreal and then moving back home again for college in the States.
The summers and winters in Windsor Mills were just incredible for a young boy. I remember beautiful happy summer days and crisp and invigorating winters. The memories of you out there in the cold winter nights flooding the ice rink in the back yard are something I will never forget. Even back then as a young boy I was so proud of your spirit and life energy. Even as a young man yourself you were an oak, with deep roots and an incredible expression of life; I could feel it then and I can feel it today.
The years in Montreal were also the very best. Being driven around all over the city to play hockey was such a great part of my life. Sitting in the back seat, letting one rip and then waiting for you to explode still cracks me up today. You and I and Mum know I can still pull it off on the way to church and laugh my ass off like I did as a young boy. And I still refer to the best advice you ever gave me before a hockey game today when I’m in need of inspiration. I go out there and I “Play With Total Abandon.” To me that embodies the incredible courage and spirit that you have which I still try to model in the present day.
Your inventiveness, creativity and imagination were never more evident than on the few occasions when you were able to step in and coach one of my teams. I remember that one playoff game when we only had nine players versus a fully stocked and stacked opponent. It was pure genius. Coaching us to play for whistles and then changing shifts in slow motion on every one worked like magic. You had the other coach losing his mind, the opposing parents completely up in arms and our opponents completely off their game. And then when the referee came over to complain about us delaying the game you were ready with the perfect response. “My boys are just so tired, we are only nine total, they are exhausted and doing their best.” Yes indeed, that was a great win and a proud day for me as your son.
Coming back home after 3 years to go to college was also just as glorious as my younger years. You set the tone right away for love and compassion as a man among men by painstakingly cutting out and pasting the words “Welcome Home” on the back windshield of the Ford EXP you purchased for my commute to school each day. It was really something to come back home after a few years on my own and witness a man of real character do his thing everyday. What a loving and vibrant home it was.
And even today, it is still exciting and the very best to come home to visit with you and Mum and the girls. To spend some time with the rest of the family and hopefully get to hear one of your stories are always some of the best days of my life. To hear of your accomplishments and adventures is endlessly entertaining. I learn something from you every time I get to listen, even if it’s about something I’ve heard before. I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing you speak about the things you’ve done. And it’s still very hard for me to leave when it’s time to go home.
Hopefully I can continue to pursue my very best and meet the standard you have set. Even if I can stretch myself to within the reach of your shadow I will finish life as an extraordinary success. I will always have some area of my life to improve upon and will continue to do so with you in mind as the standard. And I’m lucky because even today you set the tone for principle, conviction and compassion. I can still watch and learn from how you handle yourself as a truly self-made man.
As your Mum and Dad look down upon you from Heaven, they must be so proud of their son on this day.
For me and the girls and Mum and my kids you are the foundation for all that is good in our lives.
Your daughters could never ask for a better Father and they love you and Mum like crazy.
You provide us all with a measure of stability and security, even today as adults.
Your life force and your spirit affect us all each and every day.
You are still the tip of the spear.
Happy Birthday Dad!
With love from your Son.