Tomorrow (September 28) will be my Dad’s 91st birthday! I am happy and thrilled that he has reached such a fine age and that he is so healthy and strong and so very smart. There are so many things in my mind as I think about him tonight. Dad is so much to so many of us. We are a large family with a diversity of gifts and talents. We have our own needs, our own desires and our own loves. I am keenly aware Dad has so much to do with so much of who were are. We are a reflection of what has been invested in us. I am proud of my family and the strength of character that lives in it. That character is in a large part a result of the love, care and attention that Mom and Dad heaped on us.
Now, that love was not expressed in a “Beaver Cleaver” manner. Mine was a working family and Dad was tireless in his day to day routines. That sense of commitment to hard work did not stop with his retirement 26 years ago. When Dad retired at 65 I was 10 years old, yet I did not see my father as a retiree. There were no trips south for the winter, no extended summer vacations, no card clubs or seniors clubs. All who know my Dad will attest to how very young Dad still was when he was 65, 75 and indeed even 85. Dad got up – early – every day. He worked all day every day. He still works hard, if it is not painting that he is up to, it may be building crafts of many kinds, or tearing rotting wooden clapboard and siding from the house, replacing a window or two – or who knows what he doesn’t tell us.
In our reality in Newfoundland we lived what I call a clean and wholesome lifestyle. It was simple and uncomplicated and based on very basic realities. It was subsistence in many ways and the whole system of provision was a responsibility for all of us. We worked to live and we took our lead and our guidance from Dad. Bob George led his family’s daily routine. In the spring it was planting vegetables, come late June it was capelin, later in the summer it was making hay (Old style – scythe, pitch forks and wooden rakes), the fall brought on digging up the gardens and filling potato sacks, later fall was sawing up firewood and putting it in the shed every day after school, once the Jimmy Rowe’s Pond froze over and could bear the weight of our Newfoundland Pony Brandy and her sled – it was into the woods every Saturday Morning to cut down firewood – those where great days now when I look back. My four brothers and I were together with Dad. It usually involved a “boil up” lunch often with Salt fish, homemade bread and lots of good tea! I can’t get that back but I do live it again from time to time – mostly with an ironic sort of reverie. You see I hated getting hauled out of bed those mornings – it felt like a whole lot of work. Now I see it not so much as work, but as a great time – time especially good for five boys with their hard working Father. Fishing (that means Cod for the Mainlanders) was like that too. We would be up in the arly morning to get out on the water while the sun was just rising to get fish to alt for the winter. (I would give anything to have that back – but it is quckly becoming a lost way of life). I know that over the years we have all had our great moments with Dad. I still remember going with him, trouting – walking over an hour to get to the "good ponds" that were not fished out. I can still recall at 15 thinking – how is it that at 70 he can move so far so fast? He would watch to see that I was getting tired and would suggest that we “take a spell.” Or better still, all the times he attempted to get me in to "the falls" but he alwys had his basket filled with trout before we could make it in the brooks that far.
On this night as I ready myself for sleep, perhaps I will dream of the many family events where we have been all together and have enjoyed frivolity and great cheer. I will sleep dreaming of what tomorrow might be. Catherinanne and I would so love to be with them all tomorrow. Family is everything.
My two Sisters and my four Brothers are so important to me. I see each one of them as a reflection of my parents. On this eve of Dad’s birthday I am grateful to the God who gives us all life, for a family that works so hard, perseveres through all manner of life, laughs so very well, cares so very much and gives so freely and willingly. I hope that on his Birthday, Dad finds us all a reminder of how his hard work in life paid off. I know that each one of us in his/her own way will take time to tell Dad how much he is loved and how thrilled we are to have his guidance, counsel, and love over all those years (He has been parenting for the last 57 years). To his title Dad, he has added the words, Grandfather (Poppy), Great Grandfather, and Great-Great Grandfather. The more than 50 that we are now as family all say heartily – We Love you Dad – Happy Birthday.
Lady Diana Cooper who was a great social figure, and actress and a writer wrote, “First you are young; then you are middle-aged; then you are old; then you are wonderful.” She would know. In 1986 she died at the age of 93. I think that I speak safely for my six siblings and my Mom when I say that indeed we have been learning that Dad is beyond old – he is indeed – now wonderful.
I sure do miss being home at a time like this.
If you want to send Birthday greetings to Bob George – email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward them on tomorrow to his open house!