I remember when I was a youngster, just five years old and in kindergarten, in a small Newfoundland outport.
Mondays were special because my dad was off on those days and he would be home preparing for his weekly parties for my six older siblings and myself.
Because it was a spread out community, we were given an hour and half for lunch to allow those of us who lived further away to get home and back again, and school would end each day at 3:30 p.m.
I would spend the last half hour before noon absorbed in watching the minutes go by in anticipation of getting home as fast as I could to spend as much time at dad’s Monday party as possible.
Each minute was sacred.
The bell would ring and I would hurl myself out the school door and run like the wind all the way home.
Dad would be waiting for us and he always decorated the house with streamers, balloons and confetti for his parties, and he would serve us Freshie with marshmallows along with our lunch, usually consisting of hot dogs and hamburgers.
These were special times and formed some of the best memories of my early life.
These thoughts, and so many more, crowded through my mind earlier this week as I watched my 91-year-old father pass away at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
My father, James Joseph Barron, died holding the hand of his loving wife of 67 years and looking deep into her eyes as she silently wept, along with the rest of us who were at his bedside.
He was the best man I’ve ever known.
Over all the years dealing with seven children, none of whom were angels, I never saw my father raise his voice in anger or ever raise his hand to strike any one of us.
That was far beneath a man of his character.
All he ever had to do was look disappointed in us and that’s all it took for us to mend our ways.
Having such a man disapprove of us, even for a moment, was enough punishment.
I understood early in my life that my dad was something special; the fathers of my friends couldn’t hold a candle to him.
Dad lived for his family and his love kept us together and connected with each other all the way across the country as we spread out over time.
I could hardly catch my breath and it was all I could do to keep my rubbery legs underneath me as dad closed his eyes for the last time.
I always knew the day would come and I tried to spend as much time with him as I could in recent years.
I wish there was more time to spend with this most special of men.
I’d like to thank the good doctors and nurses at the NRGH for the tender care they gave my father in his last days.
They treated him with the dignity and respect he deserved and it meant a lot to my broken-hearted family.
I hope I can be privileged enough to meet with you again someday.