barn board

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and like all children I think of my Dad and the impact he has had on my life. I’ll wear his college sweater tomorrow as I always do on Father’s Day. And I will mention him in my sermon. I talk a lot about my Mom for many reasons. In the context of church it is easier to speak of my Mom, she was an active Christian, church goer and talked openly about faith. She also always wanted to be a Missionary so in a way I knew I was living a life she wished she could have experienced. She took a very keen interest in my work and attended services when I was leading worship whenever she was in the community. But even though my Dad was never keen on church or Ministry he always encouraged me to do what made me happy. And he gave me a gift that my Mom did not, the gift of imagination and daring to do what others would not.

I would not call this gift courage. Dad did not “dare” to be different, his oddness was not a matter of prophecy or righteous living. Rather my Dad just did as he pleased and was never much interested in whether it was “normal”. When our little house was too small for a family of five Dad did the unexpected, he expanded the house by one story and widened it by another room. The house was significantly higher and wider than any other house in our area. And then he put rustic shingles on the house which gave it the look of a large barn. To top it off he put barn board that he collected from collapsed barns across Nova Scotia on one wall in each of our bedrooms. I alone among my friends could nail things to my wall. Cool!

The garden he and my Mom cared for included ditch flowers and plants from across Nova Scotia. They would drive in their used K-car across the province with a lined trunk (garbage bags) and shovels and pitch forks. When he spotted something that caught his eye in a highway ditch he would stop the car along the side of the road and immediately use the pitch form and shovel to dig the flower or plant up and deposit it in the trunk. Later he would transplant his findings in the backyard garden, making it easily the most eclectic garden I have ever seen.

Long before the days of Pete’s my Dad would go to grocery stores looking for the oddest vegetables and nuts that he would routinely eat while sitting in front of the TV late at night, sometimes asleep, sometimes awake. And there was always a salt shaker nearby!

My Dad also taught me the art of compromise, he was a minimalist living with a wife who was a hoarder. How he made that work was an exercise in creative harmony. He missed and misses my Mom terribly, she died in 2004, but as soon as she died he de-cluttered the house and after three years of getting rid of and giving away things he moved to an apartment where he lives with a large TV, a desk, a computer, a chair, a clothes bureau and a bed. That’s it, that and clothing is all he owns.

My Dad tells stories in the most interesting way, he always creates riddles throughout the story, challenging you to figure out what he is saying and what he is referring to. Kim and Lucy say I am doing this more and more as I age.

We are not alike, my Dad and I, but we love each other and we enjoy each other. Each and every time I say or do something that comes from imagination, not “common sense”, I thank my Dad for his influence and his example.