Fatherly love

dad-meMy dad and I are very close. But it wasn’t always the case. You see, my parents divorced when I was 5, my dad left the country for good when I was 10, and re-married when I was 11. I remember I cried my eyes out after he told me the news over the phone. I don’t know why, but I guess in my little, naive mind I thought my parents would eventually get back together and all would be well… It felt like I was the only kid on the block with divorced parents. I used to tell my mom that I would go out to play and if I needed anything and call for “dad”, her to come at the window and say he’s sleeping or stepped out. I crushed my mother’s heart with those words, but she looked ahead to the wounds being healed and me to move on. There are very few flash backs that I have from my childhood that involve my dad, but I vividly remember the day he left our apartment, the day he left the country, and that dreaded phone call. Don’t get me wrong, I love my step-mom, but at the time I knew nothing about her – I don’t even think I knew her name – I only met her once while she was out with him and my mom and I bumped into them on the street.

The day he left our apartment, mom and I were returning from my grandmother’s house. I had spent the summer there. I walked through the door and a big luggage was waiting in the hallway. I asked dad if we’re going on a vacation to the beach. He smiled and said not this time. Then I asked where was he going. He kneed down and grabbed me by my shoulders and said he would be spending some time with my other grandmother, but I would get to see him all the time. All the time meant on Sundays, as I was in kinder garden then school all week, and Saturday was homework day. I used to count the days and sleeps until I got to see him. My favorite times were when we went to my cousin’s house for “play dates” or when we spent what felt like countless hours watching cartoons on Cartoon Network while he translated the conversations for me.

March 5th 1995 was the day my dad was flying out to Canada, for good. And I was supposed to be home so he can come and say his “until we meet again” good byes. And I did . for while . until I got antsy and went out to play . and not close that I could see him when he came…And he did come . and I wasn’t there . of course. He left a note at the door that they were all gathering at my grandma’s house and I was invited. I must have missed him for 10-15 minutes, because I read the note and ran to grandma’s place. They were all at the dinner table sharing moments and wishing him all the best. I remember I had to leave early, as my mom came to get me, and that was it. Dad left. I had no idea when I would see him again or if I would at all. But I didn’t let that bother me too much. I didn’t even know where he was going or how far he will have to travel… I just knew my dad was gone and Sundays were going to be lonely. On my 10th birthday, I was admitted to the hospital with an aggravated appendix that was about to pop. Surgery went well and recovery was fast. Dad wasn’t able to come visit, but he sent over a cute birthday card to make my day and we also spoke over the phone when I was released from the hospital. Mom was a hero and slept with me a couple of nights and after, she used to come daily to bring me soup and mashed things that I could eat easier.

We talked regularly on the phone. He used to ask me if I am doing well learning English. I had a tutor starting grade 4, because,  in school, it was French that was the first language introduced in second grade, and English to follow in 6th grade. By the time 6th grade came around, I knew most of the basic words and expressions — I really forced myself to learn it so that I could understand the cartoons, since dad wasn’t there to translate… A year since he left, during one of our regular calls, he told me that he will be getting married. I remember remaining calm on the phone and politely congratulating him. As soon as I hung up the phone I started screaming and crying “my dad is getting married!! he can’t!!”. My mom sat me on the couch and we talked about it until I came to terms that it was going to happen regardless if I liked it, approved of it, or wanted to talk about it. And then I realized he would be happier, and that made me happier.

When I was 13 (before grade 7), mom and dad agreed for me to go visit him. I was over the moon with excitement. The whole school knew Laura was going to Canada for the summer! I recall the geography teacher specifically asked me to talk about the geography of North America, in particular Canada, as I needed to make my dad proud with all I knew about where he is. I didn’t like that very much at the time! And so the day came to board a plane for the first time! I was traveling with my cousin’s grandparents (my aunt’s mom and dad), and they were there for the first time too. It all went well and we arrived safe and sound. Driving out of the Pearson Airport was so miraculous and so grand that I would stop mid sentence to just admire all the traffic and some of the taller buildings. He lived in a quiet neighbourhood and the first thing he did for me was teach me how to read the streets map from the Toronto Map Book. And to this day I am grateful for it! He had a bike for me and used to highlight different routes for me to take each day to “explore” the neighbourhood. By that time, my aunt and uncle were there too and settled in their new apartment (hence my aunt’s parents came over to visit) and we spent some time together during my 4 months stay. My cousin was in third grade and sooooo into Spice Girls and that’s all we talked about! But I didn’t care as long as we conversed in English and I could practice so I could tell dad I was doing better and better with the language. Summer passed extremely quick, but it was full of adventures. On the way back, I traveled alone and I really impressed myself that I was able to manage speaking English during the lay over in London and during the time I missed the plane because the lady that was helping with the “traffic” of people, understood I was traveling to Budapest rather than Bucharest. But all turned out well because dad was able to say, as I went through the security line, “just in case you need it, our phone number is XXX-XXX”. I repeated that over and over until I got in the plane…and was happy to re-call it when in London.

By the time I got to high school, mom and dad were talking more and more about what’s best for my future and where I should continue my studies after high school. They both agreed that it was best for me to finish high school in Canada so that Universities will look at the grades earned here and not abroad and fuss about it. And so, when I was 17, I boarded the plane once again for a one way flight to Canada – a country I knew nothing more about than what the geography professor tried to drill into my head. By this time, my dad had moved in another house. He also had 2 minions walking around the house – my sister was 3 at the time and my brother was 2 years old. Before dinner time, my sister sat on the bed and watched me carefully while I was unpacking and curiously asked “when do you go back home?”. I smiled, sat down on the bed next to her, and said I won’t be going home, I would stay here with her and try to be the best big sister she could ever have! She was ecstatic about that thought and ran downstairs to tell everyone that Laura would be staying and would be her big sister!

And so 7 years later, as life wanted it to be, I had my dad back – I never really lost him, but he was now closer than ever! And he was looking forward to close the gap of years and learn all that he could from and about his teenage daughter. And so he sat me down one day and laid down the house rules!

By the time I was writing this, 13 years had passed since I became a landed immigrant of Canada and dad helped raise a well-grounded young adult and sent in the world to fend for herself! I moved out at 25 and changed a few jobs until I landed the perfect one. And what made it really special was that it was walking distance from dad’s work. We spent an hour each day, at lunch time, talking…about anything and nothing! and I loved every second of it! And we shared food and surprised each other with little treats every now and then.

And that was perfect!


You can read about my mom here.

One Thought on “Fatherly love

  1. Pingback: My mom – my hero | Caledon Acres

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