Remembering My Dad, Bryan Hayday
Today would have been my Dad's 60th birthday. We had been planning to hold a huge celebration, because making it to sixty years old was going to be a really big deal. His father (Ron), my Grandpa, had died at age 54, and his younger brother, my Uncle Wayne, had also passed away quite young, at 51. Dad used to joke that with every day he lived, he was setting records as the longest-lived Hayday male in Canada (our British relatives, it seems, fare better in the longevity department). The significance of this birthday was going to be even greater after he made it through a very difficult (and out-of-the-blue) heart surgery in the summer of 2010.
Instead, Dad passed away suddenly at the end of last May while away on a business trip in northern Ontario. We had no warning signs. In fact, he had breezed through hip surgery in early April, and at Easter we were referring to him as Bryan 2.0 ("now with titanium hip!"). Easter was the last time that I saw Dad in person, and he was looking relaxed and happy. He was less happy when we spoke on the phone on election night, but that was political, not anything to do with his personal life or health. In the last months of his life, I always got the impression that he was feeling calmer, less overwhelmed with work, and more serene about his life and his future, and looking forward to future adventures. I suppose that if anything, I can be thankful that he was in a good place in his life when he passed away.
But that being said, I still feel robbed of the time that I won't get to have with my father. For all that he travelled a lot, he had never been to New York City, one of my favourite places to vacation, and frequently mentioned his desire to go there some day. My sister and I had planned to take him this year, once his hip was fully recovered and he was up to long walks around the city. And over the past 8 months, I have constantly been reminded of how Dad was my "go-to" guy to get excited about accomplishments in my life. When I was a teenager, I used to get a bit irritated about how Dad would "brag" about us kids to his colleagues and friends. But when I got older, I appreciated his excitement. He was almost giddy with pride at graduations, and eager to share in our personal and professional achievements. I knew that I could count on him to buy up copies of my books to send to his friends. And after his cheeky comments about my first book, I was certainly going to find a way to "include an exciting car chase" to add a bit more action and zip to my next book (I'm still wrestling with how to work that into a discussion of Canadian bilingualism, but I'll find a way!)
February was (and remains) "birthday month" in my family. My Dad's birthday is today, and my own and my sister Catherine's fall later in the month. So one big joint birthday party was often how we celebrated. It's not going to be the same from now on. I miss you Dad. Happy 60th birthday! I wish you were still here so we could celebrate it with you.
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