eulogy part two

A few years ago my dad helped me with a piece for my sister. Shannon was slowly transitioning out of a business venture that she had built from the ground up.

I had tried to imagine what the process of leaving would be like.

He made suggestions, I ignored them.

I tried other words, couldn’t make them work and went back to his suggestions.

This is the only piece we ever co-wrote and I am proud to share it here.

there was no clock here

minutes passed to hours
moments became ours
where yours and mine
released into

made light fill our minds
moved through space
and time
and found sacred spaces
secret places
hiding in plain view.

all the while in this

made long lines
of life and limb
reaching to imagined skies
fingertips blazing
in animal pantomimes.

we offered our best
and worst
to our adopted spirits.

drawing fingers opened wide
reaching for that hanging
sweet breath.
and breathe we did.finding harmony within us
and between us
where namaste waited for us
to accept the offering
that felt so new
and yet so familiar.

and grateful
head bowed down
in awe
in honour
heels planted like
oak roots and
ass to the sky.
this is a strange salute
to the universe
but damn
it feels good. 

now we accept
we are fractured
and fictional
and factioned
yet we find focus
in the breathing.

on this emotion,
in the breathing.

on that sick relative,
in the breathing.

on that random guy over there…
in. the. breathing.

my gods,
what time is it?

a prescient metaphor
but cruelly imprecise.

I know what time it is.

we know
the time has come.

we leave in slow motion,
caught in the gravity of memory.

and we, 
keep breathing
as the door opens
and light speed life
taunts us
disses us
and offers this,
there is no clock here.

wonder expands
and expects
a willing child
to follow,
so we do…
we are
wonder full.

Thank you, everyone single one of you for being here with us today.

Throughout this evening and the last few days, I have found myself many times both thankful and humbled by the love, compassion, and grace of our community.

Your presence with me, my sister, and my mom is overwhelming and appreciated tremendously. And I thank you all for being a part of our family.

 I love you Pop.

eulogy part one

the art in banking or [you’ll learn, someday]
When I was in university, I liked to take the train home to Oshawa. When I could, I would meet my dad at Union Station, at his office, and we would ride home together.

Sometimes we would each read. Sometimes we would talk. Sometimes just sitting in our own solitudes, staring out the window at Lake Ontario frothing in the distance, passed the time.

On one occasion I asked him why he worked for the bank. My question was soaked with antagonism. I thought back to all of the times while walking through his office, I felt that his work was life-sucking. I would be looking at his workplace measuring happiness from a distance and thinking that I would never want work like this for me.

He had talents that I understood, he could write and draw, and he seemed to get a lot of joy from being creative, so why bother with the banking? I probably should have led with a compliment about his writing or drawing, it definitely would have been kinder, but I had no clear words to compliment, so I poked.

For me, being authentic meant doing exactly what you wanted, when you wanted- reality be damned. Being authentic also meant being singular in belief and confident despite counterpoint. I was bold. He was calm. When he answered it was measured and clear. As he continued to stare out the window he said. ‘Even though I don’t love banking, I have found the art in it.’

Stunned and now silent I wanted to challenge him again. Instead, I stared out at the water and mumbled something mumbly.

He explained that ‘Work is necessary. But it does not have to be everything.’ And ‘…committing to work is one type fuel for family well-being.’ I asked about his writing and his art in a backhanded way, he responded with the sage coolness of someone who has a handle on the big picture. He assured me that he has never stopped asking himself ‘am I on the right track?’ Or, ‘Is my work challenging enough to keep me at it one more year?’ And, ‘Who else depends on the work that I do?’

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t.

But now, I get it.

meet pete part three

peteMy father became a wonderful writer from one long and many other short steps. I have always been a writer and much of what I have created I have kept to myself. In the process of moving through my dad’s body of work, I have come to the realization that sharing my creations is necessary.

He retired from the bank and began to write business consultancy texts, leadership strategies, and small-scale operations manuals- all of which held importance to him but never flew to the heights of success that could have sustained this new venture. Nor did they rightfully capture the depth of his life lived for a corporation.

He lived for the bank, I think he loved the bank- when they parted ways, my dad got the memories, the bank took everything else. I will say that writing, in the least, allowed him a slow curtain call from a remarkable career that spanned four decades.

Funny thing is, I truly believe that his best writing, his own creative writing, sprung from the fall of his small business attempt. I have slowly worked my way through his pieces. I have found bits of treasure woven into his words, words that take me to places in his creativity that I never knew existed. Words that surprise me with bits of past forgotten. Images of things I thought he never noticed. But he did. It was me not noticing how he did it.

My mother and I were honoured to attend an event for the Writers Community of Durham Region where one of his pieces had been published. I read the piece, met his colleagues, spoke of his achievements, and felt him present. In that space, dots suddenly became connectors and connectors became connections with life. I now see how my dad existed in spaces, hidden from me, yet he beckoned to me, spoke to me, reached out to me – I missed the cues.

Writing his eulogy broke me down and built me back up over and over. Reading it to an audience gave strange peace and took my breath away several times. The next few ‘meet pete’ posts are taken from the eulogy for my dad.

The posts will eventually shift to his writing pieces. Many are stories, wrapped in lessons, shaped with humour. My dad was like that. So am I.

To honour my dad, I post, in parts, here.