Dad’s Life

Yesterday, for my Father’s Day post, I was trying to find this photo of my dad taken by a Life magazine photographer in 1948. Mom sent the copy this morning; I remembered the fourth thing my Dad (and Mom) taught me. There’s no shame in being utterly cheap.

Years later in 1980, Timberline Lodge was used as the exterior shots in one of my brother’s and my favourite horror movies, The Shining. Gotta be some connection.

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Photo of Dad and his friend Dave up at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon. The print still quite good considering this was taken in 1948.  This photo appeared in Life magazine, February issue of that year.  The Life reporter saw your dad shaving over in the lodge washroom one morning and asked, “Why are you shaving in the washroom?” Then Dad took the reporter outside behind the lodge and showed him their pup tent. Dad told the reporter, “This is where we are spending our nights – it’s all we can afford.” 

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Dad

A very happy Father’s Day to my dad. Now nearly 89, he’s had a life full of eclectic experiences. No one can say he’s a typical dad! Still game to ‘debate’ with whomever shows up at the door these days, be it a hapless home security system salesman, a Jehovah’s Witness, or a politician, they are never the same as they limp back down the front steps. He’s been a bush pilot up north and on the Gang Ranch, a fisher, a farmer, a fireworks salesman. He was a United Control electrical engineer whose handiwork was in the early Apollo flights. He’s scampered up electrical poles in northern B.C. and he sat at a desk as a loans officer with Alberta Department of Agriculture, and for the Treasury Branch. For many years, he drove a school bus, and I’m sure he still has the collection of cards and drawings from the kids. Way before I came along, he scampered up the rock faces of the Cascade Mountains (like below). He and Mom had a ‘late honeymoon’ in the early 50s in a small boat up the Athabasca River, alone; she was almost eight months pregnant with my brother. They camped in abandoned trappers’ cabins at best, and in tents, fishing as they went. After that, they homesteaded in a tiny shack outside of Tofino where they dug clams and grew potatoes. If I had to name the best gift my father ever gave me, it would be twofold: a love of reading, and a soft spot for animals, all the way from bugs to bigger things. Okay, maybe three things: if you take on a job, do it well. “Perfection is barely good enough” seemed pretty harsh to a kid, but the distilled message was to do your job well. Get your chores done. Don’t be a slacker. And be a decent human being. Mom and Dad live in Whitehorse now, and I can’t wait to get there. Maybe we’ll do some rock climbing.

Fred, Rock Climbing Cascade Mts_1

Dad, hanging out in the Cascades, in the 1940s.

Speaking up

Thanks to Jeffrey Acevedo of CNN for this story. I love the letter this mom wrote to the doctor who advised abortion when they found out her baby had Down syndrome. We’d like to think medical professionals are more enlightened nowdays, and many are, but there are those who still have the “burden to society” attitude about people with disabilities. “Naturally, you don’t want THIS baby.” Or they may just be in a hurry. Whatever the reason, it’s right to speak up.

Years ago, when Jim was 26, we visited the doctor and she wrote a referral to a specialist for a minor problem. This lovely person had been my husband’s family doctor for years and had looked after my stepchildren, including Jim, since they were little. She even delivered the youngest. She was now close to retirement. After leaving her office, I read the referral note and saw that she had written to the specialist: “A 26-year-old Downs…” and went on with her request. When I got home, I wrote her a note. I reminded her that Jim was not “a Downs” and that I was disappointed in her language. To top it off, Down syndrome didn’t have anything to do with why we needed the referral. She called me and apologized. She had been in a hurry and scribbled down what she thought the other doctor should know, but never intended to dehumanize Jim or describe him only in terms of his disability. And she thanked me for reminding her that language is powerful. Words can have important meanings that might not be what was intended.

Congratulations to Emersyn’s mom for reminding her medical professional that ‘perfect’ comes in many forms.