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Pencil sketch of S. Brydges by Lance Brydges Copyright 2018Dad left us in 1999 but he will remain forever in our hearts. Through his teaching, his stories and his poetry, he touched everyone around him and is deeply missed. He wrote the following poem around 1998 and gave each of the family a signed copy.
This poem didn't surprise any of his children as he was a typical father in the sense that he would often say, "What are you going to do when I'm gone?" or "You better smarten up, I'm not going to be around forever." And dozens more to suit every situation. We just ignored it for the most part but on the day I was to drive him 100 km to the city hospital his "I don't think I'll be coming home from this one." caught me the wrong way and I got angry telling him that we'd probably have to put up with him for another two or three decades." It would be a reply that would haunt me the rest of my days. Dad died the next day in the hospital before we got a chance to get back down to see him. The anger had nothing to do with him as I was still stewing over the apathetic way that he was treated at our local hospital. A common occurrence but not something one gets used to. The excuse didn't matter, I would forever remember that my father died alone, in a hospital. A place that always caused him severe anxiety even in our familiar local one. It would come back to haunt me many times and in the most severe way. My father was as open and as forthright as one man can be but shortly after his passing my mother received his death certificate and she was asking everyone what the cause of death was. None of us were familiar with the term "oncology". As uncharacteristic as it could possibly be he had not let slip even once, any hint as to the nature of his illness. But I realized later that he must have wanted to very badly with his comment of, "I don't think I'll be coming home from this one." He must have been trying to get me to ask why he thought that, thus providing him with a reason to finally tell his secret. How lonely and frightened he must have been in that hospital bed. As he watched us leave was he thinking that that would be the last time he would see us again? I know what it feels like to watch someone you love leave with no idea when they would be able to return. The very second that you lose sight of them it feels like the walls are closing in on top of you. But I was pretty young for most of my extended stays in the hospital and most nurses treated me in a very compassionate way. I'm learning that that level of compassion seems to be inversely proportional to the age of the man regardless of having a positive disposition, however a negative disposition adds to the apathy.

                              Before long I must leave on a journey,
                              and I know I will not return.
                              But there is something that I have to tell you,
                              and it has given me great concern.
                              I want to tell all of you that I love you.
                              All equal, but not all the same.
                              As different as each of you are by nature,
                              I am sure that I don't have to explain.

                              In my lifetime I have made many errors,
                              and I am sure you have made quite a few.
                              I promise that I will forgive your mistakes,
                              so I ask you to forgive me mine too.
                              Now I don't know where I am going,
                              but I have hopes of paradise too.
                              My one prayer before leaving,
                              is to spend eternity with all of you.

                              I don't have to tell Mom that I love her,
                              I am sure that she already knows.
                              After all the years we have been together,
                              I think that it surely would show.
                              A soft touch, a word of endearment,
                              simple gestures that only true lovers can know.

                              I will not want to leave here,
                              for I have loved and been loved by the best.
                              But I have faith in God's promise.
                              A place of eternal rest.

Copyright © 2010 Lance Brydges

When he gave it to me, it was just another of his poems from a man reaching the end of his life. A fact of life that youth just take in stride never seeing that it will change so drastically as one reaches that end point. What it said to me after his death was quite different. I could feel the fear, the sadness, the love, the desire to tell us the truth and the pride in saving us the heartache of knowing. His deepest fear was losing Mom. A part of him that was probably the strongest in me. When he loved he did so with such fierce passion. His commitment to her was so strong and so deep that nothing would have broken it. Nothing would have even come close. It was a truth that would have never been questioned. A devotion increasingly rare and the one that gave me the greatest pride in my father. Unfortunately it was also the one that would have caused the worst suffering in a man who knew he was dieing.

Gardening was something dad loved to do, and is reflected in this little poem.
Also evident is faith. He could recite the bible chapter and verse and had a faith stronger than any man I knew, even those who went to church. And there wasn't a priest alive who could make him feel unworthy. I heard him shut many priest up after their admonishment for never attending church.
"Where even two are gathered in My Name, that is My church," was his usual response. And that being the case, we were probably quite close to the top of the list of church goers never seen at church. And the huge bonus was the fact that in infuriated Catholic Authority when we cut out all the bullshit of middlemen and went straight to the top. If curses have any affect on the dead then whoever let that gem slip by, failing to cut it out of the bible along with the Book of Saint Thomas, will have suffered tremendously for that oversight.

                         In the cold dark earth, buried deep so deep,
                         A dear little seed was fast asleep.
                         "Wake" said the sunshine, "Creep" said the light.
                         Then the dear little seed came back to life.

                         It grew so tall, with leaves so green,
                         and flowers so rare they were fit for a Queen.
                         With nature so wonderful we can't understand,
                         It must be a touch of God's tender hand.

Copyright © 2010 Lance Brydges

Recently I discovered that my father was deserving of a World War II medal and pin for enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces at a time when men were desperately needed. I do not believe that Dad knew of these medals or he would have at least mentioned them and it is equally confusing why the Canadian Forces did not write him to tell him that they were issued. When I found out I immediately contacted Veteran's Affairs Canada and, with their prompt and friendly service, the medals were soon in my possession and displayed proudly beside a photo of him from that era. Now if I could just find a photo of him in uniform. Thank you VAC.

World War II Medal and Pin

War Medal 1939-1945
General Service Badge pinned to ribbon.

Below is a poem I wrote on my father's passing. It came to me in this topic probably because this is what I subconsciously associate with the time in my life where I was trying to make a stronger connection with my father. Not that there was any friction between us, it was just that we never connected on anything. My father had his favourite and as he got older he was less able to disguise it. We all knew it but we did not all view it the same. Being a realist I never really gave it much thought. I had a mixed bag of emotions about my siblings so why couldn't he? Which is exactly why I was trying to fix that issue, unfortunately too late in life. If there is any real regrets it is my not noticing that the time I had left with him was getting very short. Probably one of the biggest reasons for his favouritism was because I was so independent. I cannot remember a single time that I had asked my dad for help with something that he wasn't right there. That was what he liked, being needed. Some kids never even get that even after they have kids of their own, but I did. However since I was so far removed from my sibling's generation, it was far too late for me to rectify the problem. I was far too independent and too far in between ages. That was probably the main contributing factor. My siblings all had families and jobs and adult problems while I was still in elementary school. And most of them laid their problems in dad's lap and left them there for him to deal with. They didn't want to know how to fix them they just wanted them fixed. So I was a silent witness to all the problem solving techniques of my father. And he was pretty dam good at it. So much so that except for my initial start into adulthood, I fixed my own problems and no small amount of others as well, just as he had. But despite knowing that the relationship that we had would never get any closer I never failed to let him know that I loved him. Every Father's Day, every birthday, and every Christmas at the very least. And like me he wasn't hard to please, even just best wishes and I Love You was all he needed. I even remember one time long after I had moved out and started a family of my own, I was actually writing a letter for him to some government agency or the like and had signed his full name. When he read it he looked shocked and asked me how I had known he middle name. I honestly don't believe that the topic had ever arose but I told him straight, "you're my father, why the hell wouldn't I know your full name?" He seemed awestruck and pleased. I was too young and naive at the time to think of asking him why it surprised him. Thinking about it now I would not be at all surprised if any of his other children hadn't known his full name. So self-centred and self-absorbed it wouldn't be a shock to me if they called him dad only because they couldn't remember his first name.
I guess I was right about the little things. He got great joy from us visiting often. It was rare to go longer than two weeks without even a phone call. It wasn't even something conscious, we just had to touch base to see how everything was going. I see families today who go for months and years without even talking! If there is love in a family like that then it is well hidden or I'm going blind. I am beginning to see a lot of truths that I was completely oblivious to. But as these things go one always seems to think that they have more days ahead to fix things until suddenly they are all gone. In the end, after all was said and done, my father had paid me one huge disservice that bothered me for awhile. But I gave it time and wouldn't you know my own family taught me that sometimes the days ahead to fix things run out on dads as well. So I can't really blame him for that. And I believe that if I were to die tomorrow and joined my parents, he would look at me much differently than before and I think he would be quite pleased and very grateful. We seem to have such capacity for love. We well up with tears when we see it in movies. We are shocked when we don't see it in families that we know. What causes it to just vanish for no reason whatsoever? I was always an optimistic person and openly friendly and helpful with anyone I met. But lately things seem different. And if what the experts say are true and we are entering a new age of enlightenment where our personal views and our nature will be what shapes things to come then I am very afraid. Maybe it's just the imaginings of a jaded old man but either way I can't wait to be out of here, and hopefully go fishing with my Mom, Dad and older brother and sister. And catch up with a whole lot of other family and dear friends.

No More - The Death of a Fisherman

You can also find a version of this poem in the Poetry & Song portion of this website.

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