I have been lucky in my life to have had several kinds of dads who influenced me.
My two granddads, my beloved dad (Poppa), a grandfather-in-law, and two fathers-in-law. Each of these men taught me different lessons.
My grandpa Ted, had a ready smile, dimples, and a twinkle in his eye that meant we were about to do something fun. He was a very dedicated community volunteer, and a hard-working man with his own thriving plumbing company. He was a proud fire chief of many years. When we went somewhere, everyone knew Ted Burns. His handshake was his word, and he would tell me to always honour a handshake.
My granddaddy John was a pilot in the old days of barnstorming. He was a very intelligent man who wrote teaching manuals for the Federal Aviation Administration.
He was also an avid tennis player, supporting clubs and tournaments for as long as I can remember. He grew up in the “dirty thirties” and when he became more successful he collected the most impressive shoe collection and matching outfits I have ever seen. Granddaddy would tell me to never forget my roots.
My grandfather-in-law Harding, was a very tall man who played in the Santa Rosa Symphony, loved to fish, and was an old-time doctor, that still made house calls in his later years. We went duck hunting, boating, played music, and enjoyed laughing together in the outdoors. I caught him in the ear once with a fly when we were fishing, and instead of getting mad, he surprised me by laughing and saying “by God, girl, you have a hell of a cast but could work on direction.”
He adored his great-grandchildren.
My first father-in-law Kit was brilliant with money and investing in future technologies, such as geothermal, sustainable farming, and responsible ocean harvesting. He tried to act like a gruff character, but somehow no matter what we were doing I’d at first exasperate him and then he’d start laughing.
I got to see the softer side of him, especially with his grandchildren. We often did things outdoors, hiking, fishing, water skiing, and then he’d make me do things outside of my comfort zone like going to a ball in San Francisco. He knew I was nervous, but proudly held my arm, and told me never to let anyone see you sweat.
My father-in-law Frank was a proud military man who worked after the war for 30 years for Sask Power. He would have a glint in his eye and laughingly tell all of us the best job in the world is one where you can drive around and drink coffee.
He was a bit of a jokester and laughed at the shenanigans of his grandkids with great gusto. His military years affected everything he did, his routines, his lifelong friends, and his fierce loyalty to Queen and Country.
The times he would speak of the horrors of the war and what he saw were extremely rare but left an impact like none other on me. He would say to the boys, I fought the war so you would never have to. I loved chatting with Frank, he gave me a unique perspective.
And then there is my own Poppa, my dad Tom, the first man I ever loved in my life. He’s taught me everything I’ve needed to know in this world. He is an amazing educator, professor and teacher.
He has encouraged my free spirit, held me when I fell, taught me to see the very best in people, and to keep trying no matter what. He was my mediator, my mentor, my measuring stick for other men in my life and my lifelong safe harbour.
He is my sounding board and teacher for life. I adore my Poppa and hate the many miles between us. He gave me laughter, a love of all creatures, and deep respect for life, and so much more. He is my hero and my friend.
I have been fortunate to have become a combination of all these men, to have internalized what they each taught me, and to be a better person because of them.
To my husband, two sons and two sons-in-law, you are each incredible daddies that I am so proud of. You are men of many talents and your children are the inspiration in my life.
Keep on trucking boys, you’re doing a spectacular job.
Happy Father’s Day!