My dad died June 22 2006, about a year before I got married, and about six months before Ross proposed. Dad liked Ross a lot so I know he would have been very happy. I am sad that he never got to meet Kale, as I think Dad would have thought he was a pretty neat little guy. Kale’s middle name of Frederick is a little token of remembrance. My dad died of prostate cancer that had spread throughout most of his organs and bones.
Dad didn’t talk too much about his service as I was growing up, and it’s something I regret not knowing more about. What I know now is little snippets and pictures and documents I’ve managed to obtain. His wife at the time of his death pulls rank on me with the Department of Vital Statistics and we don’t speak.
What I do know is that in late 1962, my father volunteered for a three year service term with the Royal Canadian Navy and was given the rank of OS – ordinary seaman. I don’t know how he felt about signing up – I know he was looking to be trained in a trade (which he was). I don’t know if it was about serving his country or if it was just a ticket to a future. Dad was based out of Esquimalt, a base that still operates. He served on five different ships over the course of his three years (going back to two of them for a second round), had acheived the rank of ABEM1 – which I think refers to Ablebodied Seaman Electrician’s Mate First Class – and was honourably released from service on November 26 1965. His records note he had a few scars and passed a few tests.
For a lot of the people who have served in our country, I think that’s the case. These were ordinary people. They wanted to do something – whether it was serve their country or get a trade ticket for free. The lucky ones came home. The unlucky ones left their families to mourn. I am blown away at the ease in which my dad, and countless others, signed up. I know I am not that brave.
I never said it while he was alive, but today I am thanking my dad for his service. He came home, lived a good and happy life, and in the end died a happy man at peace with everything.
Today I commit to teaching my son about what serving in the military was to our family. My granddad, who Kale has also never met, also served for England. I know too little about these two histories. And today I commit to learning what I can and passing it on to Kale when the time is right. These histories should not go dark like the lives of so many people.
Today, I remember.