Heroes

When I look back at my childhood and the impact my dad had there, along with his current impact on my adult life it’s two different tales. A lot of my memories of my dad when I was a kid are 50/50 at best. Half of them were him and I not getting along while the other half were just normal. Normal in the sense that they’re your stereotypical things that every dad to varying degrees imparts on his son or daughter. I’ve avoided putting my dad on a pedestal for a lot of my life because I was never enamored with the concept of hero worship in the slightest. I mean after all, he’s my dad, he’s already one of the greatest people that I’ll have in my life. Ever.

And then I got older, moved away for college, started my life in a city that I call home to this day. December 29th, 2016 marks a decade since I last lived at home. With my hero, my dad. I came to this not so profound realization a few years ago, when he got laid off from his job of 20+ years. He was angry, upset, but still the same guy he has been since I can remember: just focused on getting by, making sure my mom, the pets, and us kids were fine. Like many he’s selfless, but I feel like that’s one of the best things I’ve learned from my parents. That and to never take food from strangers.

My family is a little different than your run of the mill white privileged family in Western Canada. Both my parents were married and separated before they met. My dad has two other sons with his previous wife so I had two older siblings I never really connected with due to some circumstances. We were poor, maybe even poorer than poor at some point. My dad sacrificed a lot and so did my mom to get to where my family is. Some families never get that opportunity and it really bums me out. My parents really made a focus of being aware of how lucky and privileged we were. My parents tried to instill ‘checking your privilege’ early on which is something I’m grateful for.

The older I get, the more I reflect on so many things I was jaded about when I was a kid. To fighting with my dad about things that were so damn pointless in hindsight. The animosity I had for my half-brothers who came into my life later; who probed at wanting to know what our dad was like. All they wanted to know is what I’m pouring my heart out about here now: that he is great and was great. They missed a lot and I feel guilty for not sharing what I experienced.

And that’s why I think the John Scott story resonated so much with me. In a lot of ways, the characteristics we built cults around for the enforcer are the same things I love so much about my dad. The way his kids look at him draws me back to how I looked at my dad as a kid. The belief that my dad is the toughest man ever, the willingness to stand up and fight for your family or friends, to being a fixture of laughter. All of these things are the traits discussed when we discuss these men of a bygone era.

As much as it’s the timely but yet untimely end of the enforcer, John Scott’s near Clint Eastwood in The Unforgiven aura of the weekend meant so much. More so than anything with the setting being in Nashville of all places. He rode into town, with the energy and story of a gunslinger looking for one last duel. And he won, he won triumphantly, with his family there. All of the townsfolk, with throats raw with impassioned chanting and screaming collectively in love with his presence.

That’s what I feel when I’m with my dad all the time. Whether it’s us chatting on the phone about pointless things or small talk. To when we’re sitting on the couch, screaming at the top of our lungs watching hockey. Or when we’re having a real serious talk that inevitably ends up with my dad’s deadpan humor breaking the mood. When he told me he had cancer it was Christmas Eve and we were driving back to Wetaskiwin (where my parent’s live now). Without skipping a beat from us talking hockey it went seamlessly to:

Well I’m glad you’re sitting down because I have cancer.”

What?”

Yeah, doctors say I have prostate cancer.”

From there, it was a blur but he broke it just by being him; breaking the tension of the moment with a pointless quip that made me snap back into reality. Since then it’s been a lot of highs and lows, some of which I never want to feel again. He turned 55 on January 14th and I hope we celebrate many more. I hope that this cancer setback is merely a setback and he lives on a few more decades.

All of this is magnified another ten-fold with Bret Hart’s announcement today. He’s 58, only three years older than my dad, and he’s battling the same thing. I grew up watching that man, being a hero to many just like I grew up watching my dad with the same look in my eyes I have today.

Cancer sucks, guys. Call your parents and tell them you love them.

Leave a Reply