Father’s Day: My dad, the rock star
Father’s Day: My dad, the rock star
Last Father’s Day, I told my dad a bold-faced lie. “Happy Father’s Day,” I said over the phone to B.C. “We are really sad to be missing your big party next week.”
Five days later, we walked into a restaurant in my hometown to greet the stunned face of my darling dad. The following is the speech I gave at his 50th birthday party later that night. Love you, daddy!
My dad has always been a rock star to me.
At first, he was, literally. With his long, flowing locks and bitchin’ facial hair — truly a dad ‘stache for the ages — he played gigs and had jam sessions with his friends. He drove a Volkswagen van for a bit and work was just a means to get to Friday night to rock on again.
My childhood memories are littered with guitars, rock and roll radio every morning, jean jackets and basements soundproofed with egg cartons. The sounds of Pink Floyd, Rush and Neil Young were kind of like an unofficial soundtrack for our house. I’m sure my dad probably had dreams of a record deal and going on the road at one point, but life has a funny way of taking you on unexpected twists and turns.
Then, he was my idol, in the way all dads are idolized by their kids. We’re kind of like Justin Bieber groupies in that way — fans for life. Nicole and I insisted on getting moccasins one summer during a road trip to Alberta so we could be just like dad. In fact, I looked up to him so much, one of my first aspirations in life was to be a dad.
Now, obviously, that dream didn’t pan out. But I did learn a lot from my dad about how to be good person and I carry a lot of his best qualities with me every day.
He taught me to have a real appreciation for creativity. Besides taking me to my first rock concert and instilling in me a love for music, creative endeavours have always been supported in our house. Whether it was starring in school plays, dabbling with oil paints or pursuing the lucrative career of journalism, dad always encouraged us.
He taught me to never take life too seriously and that there’s always room for laughter even if your jokes are groan-worthy sometimes. This came in handy when we toured the Maritimes the week before my university graduation and realized too late that tourist season hadn’t kicked in yet. Dad kept our spirits up and it’s the laughter and silliness I remember from that trip, not the fact that we couldn’t actually get in anywhere.
Dad also taught me to have confidence in myself and that I could use that confidence to accomplish anything. I’ve always remained pretty level-headed in tough situations, thanks in part to my dad’s faith in my abilities. When I was learning to drive, my choice of vehicle was either the big, white 12-passenger van most of you probably remember or my dad’s standard 1987 Ford Tempo. We went with the Ford because, even though mastering the clutch on top of keeping the gas and brake pedals straight would likely be an extra challenge, at least I’d come out the other side being able to drive anything. One time when we were out practicing, I begged my dad to let me try driving the car all the way home, which included frightening obstacles like intersections and other vehicles and my uncanny ability to stall every five metres. As we bunny-hopped down the road in the middle of nowhere, I could tell my dad wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. But he believed in me, which was all the encouragement I needed to master the mean streets of downtown Chilliwack that day. And I didn’t even stall once.
Although my dad probably didn’t know it seven, eight or even maybe nine kids ago, he was made to be a family man. Us kids have always been a priority and there has never been any doubt that we are loved.
Recently, I surveyed my siblings about the first thing that comes to their minds when they think of our dad. We pretty much were all in agreement on two things: one, in the words of Kalie, he’s “funny as hell.” Monica followed that sentiment with a comment about how his goofy personality always brings a smile to anyone’s face.
The other thing we all agreed on is how much of an example he is for all of us. It takes a particularly strong person to share the good with the bad and wear your heart on your sleeve like you do, Dad. We all admire your strength of character and have learned a great deal from your openness and honesty all these years.
So, as you embark on the next 50 years, I looked to some of your peers in the rock-and-roll world for some guidance on what you can expect before you get to the dentures and puréed-dinner phase of your life.
With a great example from Bono and Bob Geldof, always find time to give back. It will give you a good appreciation of how blessed you are.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just when you thought Steven Tyler would never be able to reign in the crass enough for prime time, he lasted as a judge on American Idol for two years. Guys like Tommy Lee and Pete Townshend have written very well received autobiographies. Even the hardest of heavy metal rockers Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons have ventured into reality TV. (As an aside, our family probably doesn’t need a reality show, even if the networks would find us lucrative.)
Lastly, always remember you’re only as old as you feel. Mick Jagger is still rocking out with the Stones with more energy than ever and he’s turning 69 in July. Seventy-one-year-old Paul McCartney was the main attraction with a three-hour set at Bonnaroo last weekend, which is consistently one of the best music festivals around. And Roger Waters, who will be 70 in September, has been touring The Wall for three years straight, extending the show six times in the process.
Dad, that record deal may still be elusive and you may never have sold out Madison Square Garden, but as Mick so wisely sang, you got what you need. And looking around this room, boy did you ever.
So, I raise my glass to an incredible 50 years, filled with love, laughter and rock and roll. Here’s to doing all of this again, with walkers and the music on really low so as not to blow out hearing aids, of course, at your 100th. And I promise you, that unlike Keith Richards, I will not snort your ashes when all of this is said and done.