What to Remember Him By


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What to Remember Him By

This past February, I remembered the death of my father, who on February 18th, 2013, passed away, five days after his 91st birthday.

This morning, my wife and I were going over an old topic: What I will do with my spare time now that I will soon be out of a job? As of March 25th, I’ll be full-time at home. (My new boss and I were like oil and water.)

We were also listening to Stacey Kent. I recently signed on to iTunes’s streaming radio feature. I had typed in Kent’s name into my iPad and instantly all of her albums showed up. All morning we listened to her music. This fairly recent offering by Apple has me wondering if people will buy albums anymore. For about $10 per month, you can listen to any music that you wish to hear. Buying music might be helpful when you’re in the car and you want to listen to music on your iPod, but for the home, hooked up to your WiFi, there’s no longer a need to have a music collection…

As we were talking, a song came on entitled “Manhattan”. Suddenly, tears came to my eyes. This was my father’s favorite song to play on the piano… When he would sit down to play, this was the first song he went to. (As the tune continued, I realized that this wasn’t the song; the one that he liked so much to play was “The Birth of the Blues”, but there must have been a lot of similar chord sequences.)

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It was nice thinking of my father and his piano playing. He was quite an accomplished pianist and had a great ear for music. The pianist playing behind Stacey Kent was only slightly better than my father. Lately, unless another memory came to push it away, whenever I would think of my father, the thought that came up usually had to do with his last days fighting pneumonia, not a very pleasant memory to dwell on.

Another aspect of my father’s life that inevitably brings a smile was his love for fishing. Sitting by my father while fishing and by his side while he played the piano were two very enjoyable activities for me.

My father was a skilled fisherman and would often show me his technique for catching fish, something I could never quite get, the little tug on the fishing rod after he sensed that the fish had started to nibble the bait. This would ensure that the fish would be caught on the hook by its lip and not swallowed, which was a messy thing to fix up.

The topic of fishing recently came up while my wife and I were discussing an upcoming trip across Canada that we are planning for later this year. One of the national parks where we’ll be staying in Manitoba has lakes where there are plenty of fish. We talked over what each of us could do in this endeavour, her filleting, me preparing bait if necessary, and I instantly travelled back in time where I would be sitting in a little motorized rowboat with my dad, (this before he bought his own cabin cruiser), rocking in the middle of Lake St. Louis near Montreal, passing hours fishing and gazing over the water at the giant cargo ships passing by.

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