Frank Sinatra’s lyric’s to “I Did it my Way” described my father perfectly and so that was the song we chose to play at the end of the church service for his funeral. I think he would have liked our choice for he liked Sinatra and he considered himself, indeed a man of his own making.
He left his native farm town of Rama, Saskatchewan when he was seventeen, hitching rides on the top of train boxes making his way to Sudbury, Ontario. There he found himself a job in the mines and because of his hard working spirit he quickly became a boss and the stories I later heard from him about the mines were how under his supervision his team always were the best miners.
He left the mines because of he fell in love with my mother and I never once heard him talk about how he regretted leaving that opportunity behind. Perhaps it was because he found better opportunities in Sherbrooke, Quebec, where he set up his French Fry truck which, in the years that followed, he had three fast food restaurants. Louis’ Luncheonette. Everybody knew him in town. His fries were the best.
I can’t imagine my father being anything else but his own boss. He was never the kind of man to take orders from anyone. He set his rules for himself and for his children. With me he found his adversary. I think the reason I loved him so much, admired him so was that we were so alike. Yet, my relationship with him was full of renegadoes. As much as he was opinionated about Blacks or Jews or lawyers I counter-attacked with the same force defending them.
I remember once bringing home a black man. I knew darn well what I was doing. I was throwing it in his face and I knew that he would be livid. Yet, in spite of our ongoing father-daughter war I never once doubted that he loved me and because of this I came to know the borderless of love and that the heroes who you end up having are not perfect. I disliked my father for his prejudices and it wasn’t until I understood the history of his generation and that prejudices are bred and not borne that I began to give him some slack.
My father had regrets, I am certain. As we all do. Mine these days revolve around my sister. Now that it has been a year since she died I regret the most not having talked to her about her death. In this way I feel that I let her down. My own fears of losing her were so strong that they overpowered her experience and had the capacity to mask the reality staring in front of me.
I think about this moment over and over with regret. Regret for not talking about death to her. About her fears. About whatever is going through her mind. I think that if I had spoken to her about my own fears I might have prevented her death. I think about my weaknesses, my failure and how I let her down.