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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Fathers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and personalities. Some express their emotions freely; others tend to be rather reserved and keep their emotions bottled up inside. My father was unemotional except when he disciplined my brothers and me. His temper flared occasionally, but only when we deserved to be punished.

Dad was a true Scotsman. He was proud of his roots, and spoke with a Scottish accent until he died. He and Mom emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1939 with my older brother and me in tow. I retained my Scottish accent for a few years, but exchanged it for a Canadian accent that I later exchanged for an American accent. No one now would ever guess I was born in Scotland and reared in Canada, eh? Nevertheless, I inherited my pride of Scottish roots and my somewhat reserved personality from my father. I tend to keep my emotions to myself.

Dad and Mom enjoyed Scottish food. (I can’t call it cuisine.) So I grew up on porridge, steak and kidney pie, mashed potatoes and mince, rabbit, tripe, saps, and blood sausage. My parents called blood sausage “black puddin’—a euphemism if ever there was one. I actually enjoyed a few of those meals, but I could have survived quite nicely without the porridge and tripe. Once, when I pushed aside an unfinished bowl of tripe, my father issued an ultimatum: “You get that knocked into ya or I’ll break baith yer legs.” The message came across loud and clear. I ate the tripe to the last slithering spoonful.

Dad was a door-to-door bread salesman. He left for work Monday through Saturday by 6:00 A.M. and returned home around 6:00 P.M. The days were long and hard, especially in winter. For several years, I assisted him each Saturday. It was hard to work outdoors in the cold and snow just one day a week. I knew I did not want to become a retail bread salesman on a full-time basis. But observing Dad at work and working alongside him instilled a strong work ethic in me. I don’t think I will ever retire.

On this Father’s Day I’m sure my daughters and son know I love them. I may not express the depth of my fatherly love verbally, but I have always tried to demonstrate my love by providing for them—often by working two or three jobs at a time when they were growing up—by showing an interest in them, by leading them spiritually, and by standing up for them.

Please indulge me on this Father’s Day as this Scottish-Canadian-American dad says, “I love you,” to Sherrie, Heather, Brian, and their mother.

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