My Dad died just after his sixtieth birthday. We’d always been close, but in the five years after his diagnosis we worked at getting to know each other better.
At 6’4″ and 265 lbs, Bill was always a guy’s guy. As a teenager he played Rugby and Football and was well liked in spite of his unmerciful penchant for teasing friends and family. He joined the RCAF, but was not a candidate for pilot – I think he just liked the uniform. He repeated his final year of high school, graduating with his sweetheart, our mother. He was the perfect salesman and later sales manager. Not in a smarmy kind of way, but with a authentic kind of charm that you could not resist as a client or employee.
Dad had a yearning of a sort to explore. I could tell by the kind of stories he would share about the few trips, like to Venezuela, that he and Mom were privileged to attend on the company nickle. His peers would joke about the beautiful women while Dad would talk about the food and the drink ~ the Culture.
Now and then, Dad and I would drive down to China Town. Nothing like the scope of Toronto or Vancouver, but for an eleven year old girl living in Calgary, China Town was incredibly exotic. We would meander through every store quietly examining bamboo novelties, textiles and China teapots. The last stop was the grocery store where he’d fill a small basket with produce or dried fungi. Upon arrival with our treasures, my mother would roll her eyes at the items we gleefully shook at her and then placed in a mason jar like our own personal Curio Shop.
Eventually the purchases led to cooking. Sunday Chinese dinner in our household became a legend amongst our friends and boyfriends, as we shopped, cooked and ate with our father grandly pronouncing his favourite dish as the evening’s winner. One time a friend left our house briefly on the pretense of needing a final ingredient. When his dish was announced the best, we learned, so desperate to win, that he’d gone to a Chinese restaurant and brought back a fully cooked dish.
Fathers, if your daughter ever shows any interest in going with you somewhere nonsensical, don’t question it, just take her. It will become your secret world and a familial compass in her future. In my case, it also led me to York University at age 40 to obtain a degree in something we both love, social cultural anthropology.