This isn't what I was intending to write about.
I was planning to write about something pithy and wryly amusing - something to make you laugh (if you've a mind to) and something to make you think (if you've a mind at all).
It was going to be something that would make some people nod in agreement and make some people furrow their brows in disagreement.
But moments before I sat down to write my pithy, wry, thoughtful column, I got a phone call. It was one of those calls that you never want to get, even if, somewhere in the nether crannies of the back reaches of your mind, you've been kind of expecting it for a while... but just never wanted to admit it.
I have been very lucky in life. I have received very few such calls.
I have five brothers and a sister, most of them older than I am (and I have to admit I am no spring chicken anymore), and we all got the call today about Dad, just as we all did 27 years ago about Mom.
For an immediate family of nine, you've got to admit that's a pretty good record.
Now, I know there are some folks out there, maybe a lot of them, who couldn't have cared less about getting a call like this about their father - or their mother. Not every child loves his or her parents, and often with good reason.
But neither Mom nor Dad ever gave any of us reason to feel that way.
Mom was in her 60s when she left. Dad would have celebrated his 99th birthday this September.
Until a few weeks ago, he was very healthy (for 98, at least). He was able to walk around - without assistance, thank you very much.
He'd had a few very small strokes over the past year or so, but his mind was agile, if not always clear since he entered hospital a month or so ago with a serious infection.
Truth is, while his mind was still able to handle practically anything, that body of his had begun to desert him, a little bit at a time, over the past few years.
I'm not sure how I feel right at this moment. I guess that's normal. The whole experience needs to sink in and resolve itself. Like I said, I have been lucky in that I haven't had a lot of practice dealing with feelings like these.
Some special moments keep taking over my consciousness.
Interestingly, the ones that keep coming back most clearly are things he said and did that relate to life and death, like the time he suddenly pulled over the car just before the Somass River Bridge early one morning. He told me to walk the sidewalk toward the middle of the bridge. He would cross the bridge and meet me halfway, and when we got "there" I should follow his lead.
I didn't get it. But he always noticed things, and I hadn't yet seen what he had.
We saved a life that day - or at least, Dad did. Even when I finally noticed the woman, it still didn't register that she was outside the railing, and so cold in the morning mist that, even if she'd changed her mind, she wouldn't have been able to hang on much longer.
The past couple of days he was playing chess... with friends he'd lost long ago.
I guess those friends had come to get him, and today, he was ready to go.
I had my Dad much longer than most people get to have theirs. Still not long enough.
Bob Groeneveld is editor of the Langley Advance and Maple Ridge Times.
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