A Letter to My Dad

Ev Bishop: In honour of my dad, a letter sharing just a few of the things I’m grateful to him for

My dad passed away Oct. 17, and our relationship—a close one, for which I’m grateful—has been on my mind. I didn’t want to submit a column, but then I remembered a letter that I wrote for him one Father’s Day about seven years ago. I feel the words even more strongly than I did then. So, in honour of my dad, a letter sharing just a few of the things I’m grateful to him for.

Dad,

Thank you for the little Pooh-bear that you got me when I was about six-months-old. I still treasure Pooh and have deeply regretted the loss of his cute little red shirt since I was about eight.

Thank you for chasing me around the hassock on your hands and knees, roaring. I can remember giggling so hard I’d fall down and be unable to get away. . . .

When everyone else was getting Barbies and doll sets, thanks for making me a workbench for Christmas and equipping it with real tools (like a vise and a saw!), nails, screws and chunks of wood. It rocked. Thanks for getting me Barbies, too.

Thanks for taking our family on so many camping and fishing excursions. I’ll never forget Dragon Lake and all the trout we caught. Wasn’t one of them a twenty-pounder? You’ve never been an animal lover, yet I was allowed a whole menagerie of pets—toads, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, goats—Thank you.

Thanks for constantly singing Irish folk songs and playing a mean harmonica. So fun!

Thank you for the gift of gypsy blood and the love of gallivanting. Home really can be so far away from house.

Thanks for not listening to my whining (or perhaps I should say not giving into it), for making me work hard, and for teaching me that there’s never an excuse for not doing your best job and giving your best effort. Thanks too for believing that chores had no gender and that I was a (cringe) “big, strong, capable girl.” I’d still take wood hauling over dishes anytime.

Thanks for liking weird food. I credit my diverse palate to the fact I had a dad who not only ate every vegetable known to man, but everything else that wasn’t nailed down too. That unfussiness is a great quality.

Thank you for making me memorize the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

Thank you for every time you uttered the words, “I have a book you should read. You have to read it!” You gave me a love of books and learning, and encouraged me (still do) to reflect on life and search for meaning.

Thank you for staying married to my mom even when it was really hard to do so. You taught me about never giving up on people, and about how, with patience and determination, love endures and renews.

Thank you for finding a new love and making a new life, despite your grief after my mom died—showing me that life does go on, and that where there’s a will (and a lot of grace), there is a way to happily ever after.

Thank you for getting past the many differences we’ve had over the years. Even when we don’t see eye to eye, I know I can count on you.

There are many other things I appreciate, and I’m sure I’ll kick myself later when another really important one pops into my head, so one final, all-encompassing thank you: Thank you for all that you have done for me and my family, for modeling kindness and for having such a big heart.

Leonard Cohen once said, “What I consider a hero is a person who goes to work every day and supports their family… I think to hold it together nowadays is a heroic enterprise.”

I couldn’t say it better. When I was little, I used to tromp around in my dad’s huge black gumboots; all these years later, he still leaves pretty big shoes to fill. My dad always tried to live up the responsibility that the name “dad” implies. There aren’t enough words to say thanks for that.