Bittersweet 16

I used to have this dream.

This was a long ago time: I was in my 20s and plying my trade as a sports writer.

My brothers and I are standing in a line and my father is introducing us to someone,  it never really matters whom. I’m last in place, although I’m not the youngest.

He starts with Shane. 

“This is my eldest. He runs the IT department for a building supply company.”

Then Kevin.

“This is my second. He’s in technology in Ottawa.”

Then Jason, who’s now a big-time exec for a major eastern Canada corp.

“And my youngest, a forestry engineer.”

Then me.

“This is my daughter. She goes to hockey games, takes pictures and writes about them.”

It was my own way of feeling pretty insecure about the choices I’d made and not feeling very successful in those choices.

Sixteen years ago this week, however, I stood at the wake house in Antigonish, N.S., looking over at his casket and trying to figure out who was the waif-like creature lying there so peaceful and serene.

A handful of men his age beckoned to me.

“You’re the daughter,” one of them said.

I nodded.

“Your father was so proud of you.”

What?

“Did you know he took copies of your newspaper up to Tims every week and showed us what you wrote?”

What?

“You were all he ever talked about.”

What follows next has long since faded from my memory.

That conversation, however, stays with me all these years.

I don’t take pictures of and write about hockey games any more. And I’ve done all right for myself in the land of milk and honey, the last few months notwithstanding.

So I don’t have that dream anymore.

Instead, it’s been replaced by an occasional presence, one that lets me know he’s ever with me.

To let me know how proud he is of me.