Friday, March 04, 2011

Always with the birds!

Found this one the other day in a box of photos that belonged to my Mum. It's me feeding junk food (white bread) to geese and ducks in Pickering, Ontario, 1992. Look at all that hair!

1992 was a year of highs and lows for me. Among other things,  I got engaged to Gordon, then two days later my Dad died. Gordon had whisked me off to Tadoussac, Quebec, for the Labour Day weekend. I thought we just going whale-watching! My Dad was sick at the time and had recently gotten out of hospital. He had recurring heart problems and diabetes. I was worried about going away while he was ill,  but he insisted I go and enjoy myself (this was in the days before cell phones and internet, so it wasn't quite as easy to keep in touch.) I was living in Montréal then, and Dad was 550 km away in Toronto. 

Gordon and I had two lovely days in Tadoussac. On September 5th, while we were watching whales from the shore at Cap de Bon-Désir (literally "Cape of Good Desire"; appropriate, eh?), Gordon asked me to marry him. All extremely romantic! At first I thought he was joking, which caused him some consternation. 

Poor Gordon: "Will you marry me?"
Me: "Maybe I will, maybe I won't." (Uh oh. He looks upset. He's serious. Wheeeeee!) "Oh my God, I thought you were joking. Of course I'll marry you! Yes!!" (Gordon looks relieved and happy.)

Poor Gordon, this is the sort of thing he's had to put up with for over two decades now. I'm grateful he hasn't fled yet.

So on the Sunday, I found  a payphone and called to check on my Dad and tell him my good news. My stepmother answered and told me I had to come home; Dad had been taken back to hospital again and the situation was very dire. I understood what that meant; my father was going to die. Somehow I managed to get a flight to Toronto from the tiny Bagotville Airport. Gordon drove back to Montréal alone in our rental car.  I bought a wedding magazine at the airport and sat in the back of the tiny plane, crying all the way to Toronto.

I made it home in time to talk to my Dad and tell him I was getting married, which made him very happy. He also cracked a joke about having to pay for the wedding. He never lost his sense of humour, even at the worst of times. Two days later, on September 8th, he was gone.

My Dad was the one who got me hooked on feeding ducks, geese and squirrels. He was forever taking me to the park to feed the animals. At least the squirrels got some decent food: peanuts in the shell! I don't even feed myself white bread these days.

For a guy who liked to play up his tough, masculine side, he was surprisingly soft when it came to little furry animals...

Here's Dad feeding squirrels in the late 1980s. Those look suspiciously like cookies or crackers, not peanuts!

As for me and Gordon, we promised ourselves, back in 1992, that we'd go back to Cap de Bon-Désir for our 25th wedding anniversary. That seemed a very long time away then, but now we're approaching #18, it's not quite so distant.

Tomorrow, I promise a post where nobody dies. :)


  1. I bought a wedding magazine at the airport and sat in the back of the tiny plane, crying all the way to Toronto.

    I can certainly understand this, given the context. But I do wonder what the other passengers thought.

  2. Fortunately the plane was almost empty! Not a lot of people zipping between Bagotville and Toronto.

    Also fortunately, I have not yet cried over my decision to marry the Bearded One!

  3. Talk about a contrast between joy and sorrow. Every time I read your blog I love you more and more.

  4. Hey Natalie, you've certainly had some great male role models in your life.
    Two bitter sweet posts, beauitfully written.
    It's interesting the people who enter our lives and the marks they leave on them. Hopefully, we learn much from these people and pass it on to to others.

    Hope your weekend is going well. It's a beautiful Autumn day here, despite the burning off that's taking place. Working myself up to cleaning out the chook house/chicken coop..........

    Claire :}

  5. So you grew up loving animals! This is such a beautiful and sad story about your Dad, I'm still wiping away tears. (I hate being such a girl - one who cries over blogs!! but alas, such is life, I'm not gonna change now).
    Love the 90's hair!

  6. Aw, CogDis, I love you and your blog too!!! :)

    CLaire, I had better male role models than female, sad to say. ANd thank you, I had a nice weekend even though Gordon jetted off to Washington without me! :) GOod luck with the coop cleaning. I did that last fall (our fall, not your fall!)

  7. Ooh, Lynn, sorry about that. But you know, it's okay to cry. I'm trying to teach myself that one!:)I still miss my Dad a LOT. He used to call me and ask me what I was eating for dinner. We talked about food a lot. It's amazing neither of us was ever overweight. ;) Then he'd ask me if I wore a jacket that day, because it was cold (I was 28 at the time.) I miss having my Dad's love!

    And yes, I always loved animals, from a very very early age. If it weren't for Gordon, I'd be a crazy cat lady. YOu'd better hope nothing ever happens to him, or I'll be living here with 50 litterboxes and a herd of felines... ;) Kidding. Sort of.


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!